A Taste of Trail Creek (at a special price)

Welcome to Trail Creek Cabin in autumn -- fabulous food in a fabulous setting and now at a price that can't be beat

Welcome to Trail Creek Cabin in autumn -- fabulous food in a fabulous setting and now at a price that can't be beat

Ah, slack. The autumn shoulder season in Sun Valley brings many pleasures – gorgeous sunny days, bright fall foliage, and no less importantly … slack food specials. During the quieter months, most of our area’s mouthwatering eateries entice diners with appetizing meals at an appetizing price.

Sun Valley Resort is on the slack special program with historic Trail Creek Cabin offering a dinner special and both Gretchen’s and the Sun Valley Club inviting lunch patrons to enjoy the season with a price break.

Midweek, Trail Creek Cabin's charming and rustic interior was filled with happy diners

Midweek, Trail Creek Cabin's charming and rustic interior was filled with happy foodies

Wednesday night, finding myself with nothing in the refrigerator and too tired to cook anyway, I decided to take the short drive to Trail Creek Cabin for their two entrees for $30 promotion. On the menu through November 2? Hungarian Beef Goulash, Spicy Cajun Gumbo, Vegetarian Lasagna as well as the full regular Trail Creek menu featuring locally sourced, seasonally appropriate fare.

Greeted by not one but two roaring fires on the brisk, almost-full-moon-lit October night, our group of five was quickly seated at a spacious, comfortable table. In short order, a big basket filled with Trail Creek Cabin’s famous sweet scones and other breads was delivered. Two minutes later it was empty. Did I mention I brought all three of my children?

Surrounded by the flickering fire, rustic décor and tantalizing smells from the kitchen, my family’s mood improved almost immediately. Conversation flowed and the day’s happenings were compared as we perused the menu.

Healthy, light and local,the Idaho trout was an addition to the specials this week

Healthy, light and local,the Idaho trout was an addition to the specials this week

For me, the only problem with slack specials is that many of them, at many local restaurants, don’t appeal to me. I am a pretty particular eater and, I am told, difficult to dine with. But there was something for everyone on the Trail Creek special menu. I found myself struggling to choose between the lasagna, the gumbo and a third special that evening, Idaho trout with seasonal vegetables. In the end, I went with the hearty gumbo as well as a cup of butternut squash soup with white beans. My dining companion opted for the trout special and everyone at the table ordered the soup. My children couldn’t deviate from their Trail Creek favorite (and the most popular menu item) — a cowboy steak with onion rings and a loaded baked potato.

All the food arrived piping hot and plentiful. The soup was a creamy taste of the season. My gumbo offered just the right amount of kick and my friend’s trout was fresh, light and full of flavor. Of course, the kids loved their steak, too.

Two-for-one dessert made finishing our meal with something sweet a given

Two-for-one dessert made finishing our meal with something sweet a given

For dessert, I downloaded coupons offering two-for-one, so we had to take advantage of that, too. Soon, two tall, frosty root beer floats arrived at the table, as did two warm chocolate lava cakes. They disappeared as quickly as the scones.

That evening, Trail Creek was bustling because even when Sun Valley is quiet, it’s not that quiet. Romantic tables for two were interspersed with large party groups. Many diners wore their badges from the Jazz Festival that is in full swing at Sun Valley Resort.

Cozy and inviting, this is the perfect time to head to Trail Creek Cabin

Cozy and inviting, this is the perfect time to head to Trail Creek Cabin

Trail Creek Cabin is a special place. Just a few miles up the road from the Sun Valley Lodge, the historic building is cozy and inviting, harkening back to simpler times and feeling very much away from it all. Now, with the aspens glowing gold, the evening air cool and invigorating and dinner very affordable, it is the perfect time to make the sojourn to the cabin.

Be sure to reserve your table and enjoy a memorable meal by November 2.

Bon appétit!

–RES

Our group was all smiles following a memorable meal

Our group was all smiles following a memorable meal

Crosstoberfest: one part cyclo-cross, one part craft beer

Sure, Munich has its traditional Oktoberfest each fall, replete with plentiful beer, brats and a rocking party atmosphere. But the Wood River Valley, with our deep European roots but upstart ways, takes Oktoberfest and makes it our own with Crosstoberfest, a weekend of cyclo-cross bike racing, a craft beer fest and much, much more.

Cyclocross is coming to the Wood River Valley this weekend and you're invited to the party (photo crosstoberfestidaho.com)

Cyclo-cross is coming to the Wood River Valley this weekend and you're invited to the party (photo: crosstoberfestidaho.com)

Cyclo-cross is a type of bicycle race; one that pits cyclist against cyclist and racers against a full complement of terrain that can include gravel, dirt, mud, sand, stairs, pavement, and yes, in Idaho, in the fall, even snow. Riders compete in many laps of a short course and must dismount, carry their bikes to navigate obstructions, remount, keep riding and do it again. It is America’s fastest growing cycle-sport and it is great fun for both participants and spectators.

Cyclists ride all kinds of bikes, but cyclo-cross specific bikes are lightweight with narrow tires and drop handlebars. They typically have a greater tire clearance, lower gearing, stronger frames, cantilever brakes and a more upright riding position.

More than 75 craft beers are the star of the Crosstoberfest show

More than 75 craft beers are the star of the Crosstoberfest show

Our version of Oktoberfest is about more than just racing, though – like it’s German cousin, it’s also a celebration of beer, food and music. Now in its tenth year, Crosstoberfest, sponsored by Hailey’s Power House Pub & Bike Studio and Sun Valley Magazine throws a party with two days of original live music and almost 75 different pours from 20 breweries. Locally grown and raised Bavarian-inspired food keeps racers and spectators energized.

Crosstoberfest Idaho is the brainchild of Billy Olson, a former professional road bike racer and owner of the hybrid bike repair shop/burger and beer joint (with really good food) that is Power House in Hailey. Olson is a huge proponent of biking of all kinds, for every age and ability level, in the Wood River Valley. Crosstoberfest reflects his philosophy that biking is for everyone, with race categories for children, juniors, masters and mixed groups.

This two-wheeling weekend takes place at Old Cutters Park in Hailey. Men’s and women’s events launch Friday, October 11, at 4 p.m. and the fun resumes at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Prizes abound for participants and include everything from beer for the adults to cash prizes. The event benefits Road & Dirt, a non-profit organization promoting local cycling events.

Flow trails are coming to Baldy next summer, adding to Sun Valley's endless two-wheel opportunities

Flow trails are coming to Baldy next summer, adding to Sun Valley's endless two-wheel opportunities (photo courtesy Tal Roberts)

With more than 1,100 miles of mountain bike single track in the immediate area and endless road biking, the Sun Valley area is rightfully recognized around the country as biking Nirvana. And it’s only getting better.  Atop Bald Mountain, work continues on the new flow trails being cut and readied for summer 2014.  Nine new trails, all with lift access, are planned to add thrills to summer fun in the coming seasons.

Get stoked! This flow trail will be as fun as it looks

Get stoked! This flow trail will be as fun as it looks (photo courtesy Tal Roberts)

Don’t forget it’s also sheep weekend in Sun Valley. The Trailing of the Sheep Festival kicks off on Thursday and activities abound for the entire family.

The weather this weekend in the Sun Valley area looks like it will cooperate, so get out there and enjoy everything this wonderful, chock-a-block weekend has to offer whether it’s biking, sipping a beer, eating a lot of lamb, or enjoying the region’s rich history.

–RES

The Sheep are Coming!

The sheep are making their way toward Ketchum for a weekend that's all about them

The sheep are making their way to town for a weekend that's all about them

It is officially October in Sun Valley, and that can mean only one thing: the sheep are coming! The countdown has begun to the 17th Trailing of the Sheep Festival that kicks off October 10. This wild and woolly weekend has been called one of the Top Ten Festivals in the world by MSN Travel, one of the Top 200 U.S. Festivals by Amazing Festivals and one of the Top 100 Festivals in North America by the ABA. Around here, we just call it a beautiful fall weekend that provides a wonderful glimpse into our region’s rich history. And the parade of sheep down Main Street in Ketchum is pretty entertaining, too.

It is believed that John Hailey first brought sheep into the Wood River Valley in the 1860s. They soon became a source of fiber and food for early settlers. As the mining industry became less important in the region’s economy, the role of sheep increased. For decades, the sheep population in the state of Idaho greatly outnumbered the human population!

All eyes are on the region's rich history during this festival

All eyes are on the region's rich history during this festival

The Trailing of the Sheep Festival celebrates this heritage in a very colorful, flavorful, hands-on way. The four-day event kicks off on Thursday, October 10, and continues through the Trailing of the Sheep parade that runs down Main Street at noon on Sunday, October 13. In between, events up and down the valley entertain and educate.

One of the Festival highlights (among many) focuses on food. If you are a lover of lamb, you truly don’t want to miss opportunities to taste and savor this delicacy in countless incarnations. All week, even before the official kick-off of the Trailing of the Sheep Festival, foodies can enjoy a lamb dine-around in Ketchum. Local chefs are offering all kinds of lamb specials — from a modern take on the traditional herb crusted rack of lamb with red wine and rosemary sauce at B. Restaurant in Ketchum, to lamb sliders with Lava Lake lamb on Big Wood bread buns at the Cellar Pub, to slow roasted lamb tacos at Despos. Many of your local favorite eateries are offering new takes on lamb so be sure to reserve a different table each night of the week.

Lots of tasty lamb treats are available to sample at the Folklife Fair

Lots of tasty lamb treats are available to sample at the Folklife Fair

Sun Valley’s historic Trail Creek Cabin is on the sheep celebration, too. The talented chef Wendy Little is sure to have an innovative take on incorporating lamb into her fall menu. Please call 208.622.2800 for more information.

Other eating (and drinking) opportunities are abundant, as well. Cooking classes featuring lamb and a course in pairing wines with lamb are scheduled for October 10. A barbecue on Irving’s Hill and Main Street Market in Ketchum will be available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Demonstrations show that not every process need be automated

Demonstrations show that not every process need be automated

My family’s favorite event of the weekend is the Folklife Fair that takes place in Hailey on Saturday, October 12. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Roberta McKercher Park, enjoy the spectacle of Boise Highlanders’ bagpipers, drummer and dancers; Peruvian dancers and musicians; Oinkari Basque Dancers; Polish Highlanders and dozens of exhibitions featuring sheep shearing, wool spinning and sheep herding, as well as countless booths showcasing fiber art, face painting, crafts, and, of course, lots of lamb-inspired food.

The colorful Trailing of the Sheep parade caps off a fabulous weekend on Sunday, Oct. 13

The colorful Trailing of the Sheep parade caps off a fabulous weekend on Sunday, Oct. 13

Then there’s the parade that you have to see to believe. Hundreds of sheep racing and jumping down Main Street preceded by wonderful musicians and dancers is a sight you won’t see anywhere else.

For a full schedule for the weekend, please click HERE.

Sun Valley Resort is offering special incentive to come, stay and enjoy all the weekend has to offer with room rates starting at $159 for single or double room. Mention Trailing of the Sheep Festival when you make your reservation.

Think sheep, think fall and I’ll see you at the Festival!

–RES

Edward Villella Takes to the Ice

The strains of Tchaikovsky’s Elegy drift from the speakers high above Sun Valley’s outdoor rink as a dozen skaters, members of Ice Theatre of New York, mark a new piece in their repertory. Couples stand face-to-face, shoulder-to-shoulder, hands on each others’ waists and backs, moving arms and legs slightly to the strains of the music and listening to the corrections and notes given by an elegant man, dressed casually in jeans and a New  York University sweatshirt, leaning on the rail.Edward Villella, Douglas Webster, Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre take a short break from rehearsals for Ice Theatre of New York

Edward Villella, Douglas Webster, Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre take a short break from rehearsals for Ice Theatre of New York

At the edge of the rink, Douglas Webster, the artistic director of Ice Theatre of New York, confers with this man, the legendary Edward Villella who is overseeing the rehearsal with laser-like intensity. “Do you like the arms here, or here,” Webster asks, demonstrating two possibilities. In response, Villella who is considered the most celebrated male dancer of his time, the greatest produced in America, responds by showing the port de bras he prefers. Even in that tiny gesture, Villella’s tremendous grace, passion and power, the hallmarks of his storied dance and choreography career, are apparent even to the untrained eye.

Villella joined the New York City Ballet where he became a soloist in 1958 and principal dancer in 1960. He is perhaps best known as the original male lead in many important ballets, especially a revival George Balanchine’s exquisite 1929 masterpiece, Prodigal Son. He left New York to found Miami City Ballet in 1986, bringing that company to international acclaim. He is a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors and was awarded the National Medal of the Arts by President Clinton. In the rarefied world of ballet, he is royalty.

Villella is accustomed to working with the best ballet dancers in the world but, in Sun Valley, turned his attention to ice dance

Villella is accustomed to working with the best ballet dancers in the world but, in Sun Valley, turned his attention to ice dance (photo: Villelladance.org)

Transferring a lifetime of working with prima ballerinas en pointe and danseurs in soft shoes to dancers laced tightly into skate boots with sharp, inflexible boots on their feet is a challenge Villella said he is enjoying. “The flat foot is where it is hard for me to translate,” laughed Villella at a rehearsal at the outdoor rink earlier this week. “But the arms, they are universal.”

Reveries is a special piece Villella is choreographing for Ice Theatre of New York’s Gala, a tribute to Kurt Browning and Sonia Rodriguez, a ballerina, in New York City on October 25. Villella describes Reveries, an 11-minute work featuring five couples, as a “lush romantic ballet about unattainable love.”

Ice dancer Kim Navarro said it’s been an honor working with the ballet great. “A door has been opened to this rich and historic ballet world and it is an honor to get to peek through it,” she explained. “It feels like we get to peer into a world that is something much greater than us, just skating. Just to be in Edward’s presence is a great honor that has not been lost on any of the skaters. May I also say how humble he is? He keeps thanking us for being willing participants of his work. Amazing!”

Sun Valley favorites Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre rehearse Elegy

Sun Valley favorites Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre rehearse Reveries

Sun Valley’s audiences can enjoy a performance of the piece set to Elegy and see Villella’s signature style, as well as the well-known ice dance company’s other repertory for the upcoming season at a special show on October 2. The show is free and features skaters from all over the globe, as well as Sun Valley On Ice dancers Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre, Joel Dear, Ty Cockrum and Natalia Zaitseva.

In the meantime, Villella, who is in Sun Valley with his wife, Linda Carbonetto, is enjoying fall in Idaho. Villella said he hasn’t been here in 30 years. “It is the most serene place I have been in a long time,” he said in his soft voice. He added that he is truly enjoying working here amid our spectacular fall scenery at the iconic rink. Linda, a former Canadian Olympic figure skater, is also relishing fall in Sun Valley, even finding time to skate.

The legendary Edward Villella works with his dancers on the ice

The legendary Edward Villella works with his dancers on the ice

For me, who seriously studied ballet throughout my childhood and became a fervent (fanatical?) fan of the New York City Ballet, meeting Villella left me speechless. It is always interesting, how in this little rural corner of Idaho, so many of us have the chance to meet or see our heroes, whether they are ski racers, actors, cellists, mountain bikers, pop stars, figure skaters, or in my case, a ballet dancer.

Be sure to come out on October 2 to enjoy a gorgeous night of ice dance and to get a glimpse of the greatness that is Edward Villella.

–RES  

Reaching Higher Ground at the Rink

What do you get when you mix a special performance by the Ice Theatre of New York, one of the world’s most famous ballet choreographers and Higher Ground of Sun Valley? You get a very special ice show coming our way on Wednesday, September 18.

Come out and enjoy a fall evening with a fantastic ice show -- all for Higher Ground, an organization that changes lives

Come out and enjoy a fall evening with a fantastic ice show -- all for Higher Ground, an organization that changes lives

Ice Theatre of New York, under the artistic direction of Douglas Webster, has made Sun Valley’s beautiful two rinks its home since September 11, bringing a three-week residency to our figure skating Shangri-La. Working with favorite Sun Valley on Ice show skaters like Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre, Joel Dear, Ty Cockrum and Natalia Zaitseva, and other professionals from all over the country and the world, the residency is preparing the renown skating company for a special performance in New York in October. In the works are rehearsals on existing and new repertory pieces. Swing by the Sun Valley outdoor rink between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. and, weather permitting, get a rare behind-the-scenes peek at how Ice Theatre of New York trains and prepares.

The one-and-only Edward Villella rehearses with members of Ice Theatre of New York

The one-and-only Edward Villella (right, with artistic director Douglas Webster) rehearses with members of Ice Theatre of New York

Now, cue the famous choreographer. The one and only Edward Villella, formerly of the New York City Ballet and founder of Miami City Ballet, is rinkside in Sun Valley lending his considerable talents to this project. To those of us who love ballet, he is a superstar.

Now, enter the excellent cause. All bleacher seats on Wednesday evening are being sold for a suggested donation of $10 to support the Higher Ground’s military programs. Higher Ground is a Ketchum-based non-profit that works with injured veterans and their families and loved ones. Men and women who have served and suffered physical injuries, a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and/or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD and/or MST) come to Sun Valley to participate in snowsports, fly fishing, whitewater rafting and other healing camps under the care and expertise of Higher Ground.

Higher Ground offers numerous programs throughout the year to veterans that utilize Sun Valley's amazing, healing outdoors

Higher Ground offers numerous programs throughout the year to veterans that utilize Sun Valley's amazing, healing outdoors

A special group that is holding a convention in Sun Valley this week reached out to Higher Ground, offering to help them fundraise for their vital projects. Erin Rheinschild, Director of Philanthropy at Higher Ground explained, “they had a ice show on their schedule this week, but planned to enjoy dinner at the Lodge and then watch the show from the terrace. That left the bleachers empty. They said they appreciate and value the work we do and would like, with Sun Valley, to offer those seats as a fundraiser for our military programs. Of course we said yes!”

So, on Wednesday night, come out to enjoy a sneak peek of the Ice Theatre of New York repertory, a headline performance by perennial favorite Jumpin’ Joe, the amazing core skaters of Sun Valley On Ice, all while supporting the life changing work of Higher Ground.

Expect some exciting extras, too. According to Rheinschild, a Color Guard from Mountain Home Air Force Base will be in attendance. They will also have a terrific silent auction and a pass the hat. “This event brings a great deal of awareness to everyone about our programs,” Rheinschild said. “We encourage everyone to come out, enjoy a fabulous show and learn more about Higher Ground.”

Tickets are available at the door for a suggested donation of $10. Seats are first come, first served and doors open at 7 p.m. For more information, call 208-726-9298 or click HERE.

Members of the Ice Theatre of New York look forward to showcasing their repertory for Sun Valley audiences

Members of the Ice Theatre of New York look forward to showcasing their repertory for Sun Valley audiences

Please check back to this blog for both a detailed look at Edward Villella and the Ice Theatre of New York in advance of their free performance in Sun Valley scheduled for October 2. Please also watch for a story on the tradition that Higher Ground continues – a long history of Sun Valley as a place of healing.

–RES

Go With the Flow

We all know that Bald Mountain is one big playground and next summer, expect to see new, updated, state-of-the-art places to play.

New mountain bike flow trails on Baldy will make the downhill even more fun

New mountain bike flow trails on Baldy will make the downhill even more fun

Picture this: It’s a spectacular Sun Valley summer day. You load your mountain bike onto the gondola at the base of River Run and hop on the next car, enjoying the scenic ride up the hill. At the summit, you strap on your helmet, snug up your sunglasses, mount your saddle and prepare to go with the flow.

In the works on Baldy, are nine new “flow” mountain bike trails that will, in the next five to six years, provide nearly 20 miles of new buttery single track that promise to get riders into a groove unlike any they have ever experienced. The first is expected to debut early summer 2014.

 

Construction is well underway on the first flow trail on Baldy

Construction is well underway on the first flow trail on Baldy

Flow trails have become very popular in recent years, but have historically been hard to access for recreational bikers. Not anymore. According to Sun Valley’s Julian Tyo, an avid and accomplished mountain biker who is involved in the concept, design and implementation of these trails, Baldy’s new terrain developments are a game changer. Tyo explained, “flow trails optimize the mountain bike experience for riders of all ability levels,” and ours will be accessible by chairlift.

The concept sounds tantalizing — downhill trails that have an intrinsic, smooth rhythm, a “terrain-induced roller coaster experience,” according to the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). Pedaling and braking are kept to a minimum on flow trails. Instead, features including banked turns, rolling terrain, jumps and consistent and predictable surfaces are what transport the rider through wooded glades or under bluebird skies.

Sun Valley is already singletrack Nirvana and is about to get even better

Sun Valley is already singletrack Nirvana and is about to get even better

Like a skier or snowboarder, the mountain biker carves back and forth, flowing down the mountain without worry of abrupt corners, obstacles or drop offs. Riders can revel in this experience without concern to their fitness level or skill set. There are no logs to jump or rocks to navigate on the flow trails being built.

Tyo concurs that this is what people can expect on Baldy. “We envision riders of all ability levels using the new flow trails,” he explained. “The design of these trails is for riders of different ability levels to have a variety of experiences on the same trail. Our goal is to provide trails that keep all riders wanting to come back for more.”

A comparison to winter sports might be the popular Family Cross and Skier Cross courses offered on Dollar Mountain in the snow season.

On flow tracks, the terrain and gravity do the work. You have the fun.

On flow tracks, the terrain and gravity do the work. You have the fun. This one will be ready for action for summer 2014.

The first phase of construction on Baldy’s flow trails is underway, which will result in the scheduled opening of the first at the beginning of summer 2014. Phase one is a “four-mile, green rated flow trail (with ratings similar to winter ski trail ratings) on Forest Service land from the top of the mountain to Roundhouse,” Tyo said.

The new trails are user-specific and unidirectional, available only for downhill mountain bike traffic. In addition to the flow trails, two new hiking and uphill biking only trails will be part of this upgrade. The design maintains existing use patterns on the hill.

How vital is this project to enthusiasts who visit or live in the area? Very! “This project is important to the Resort to increase summer offerings on Bald Mountain consistent with the goal of year-round recreation on public lands,” Tyo enthused. “The addition of these trails completes the picture of Sun Valley and the Wood River Valley as the ultimate riding destination, with nearly 450 miles of singletrack, two pump tracks and now a contemporary lift-accessed bike park. Our goal is create a ‘ski season for the summertime’ on Bald Mountain.”

Lift accessed downhill mountain biking is a scenic experience in Sun Valley

Lift accessed downhill mountain biking is a scenic experience in Sun Valley

Next May, when the snow has melted, your skis are tucked away for the season but it isn’t quite nice enough yet to get on the trails, just remember, soon, very soon, you will be able to get your groove on.

For Tyo, “adding new downhill trails on Baldy has always been a dream.” A dream, that is about to become reality.

–RES

It’s Autumn! Get Out and Hike

You don't need to go far from town to enjoy a fall hike complete with golden aspens

You don't need to go far from town to enjoy a fall hike complete with golden aspens

Ah, September in Sun Valley: Cool mornings and evenings; warm sunny days; the always-evolving alchemy of aspen leaves as they turn bright gold. Though each season here certainly has its merits, there is something truly spectacular about autumn.

And with the children back in school, the booked-to-the-minute fun of Labor Day weekend behind us, it’s time to get out there and take a hike. Though many local trails were temporarily closed in August due to the Beaver Creek Fire, right now, local hiking is at its peak.

The Hemingway Memorial is a beautiful tribute to the author and a gateway to terrific local hikes

The Hemingway Memorial is a beautiful tribute to the author and a gateway to terrific local hikes

Whether you have lived in Sun Valley your entire life or are just visiting for the weekend, a great place to start a September hike is at the Hemingway Memorial just east of the Sun Valley Lodge on Trail Creek Road. The memorial features a likeness of the legendary writer who completed For Whom the Bell Tolls in suite 206 at the Lodge, and is tucked beneath shady trees on the banks of Trail Creek. Stone benches in the shape of a half moon offer a place to sit and reflect on the inscription that reminds Hemingway is laid to rest in the Ketchum Cemetery:

Best of all he loved the fall
The leaves yellow on the cottonwoods
Leaves floating on the trout streams
And above the hills
The high blue windless skies
Now he will be a part of them forever.

From this very unique, and very nearby, trailhead, miles of beautiful single track wend through Proctor Mountain. For the novice, gentle walks lead along the creek and east. Craving more vertical? Numerous trails climb to the saddle of Proctor, offering fantastic views in every direction, including one of the best ones around of Baldy. If you’re up for a challenge, the Ruud Mountain trail cuts steeply right to the more traditional Proctor Mountain trails, leading to, and beyond, one of the first chairlifts in the world.

Bald Mountain in the warmer months offers stunning vistas and great exercise to those on foot

Bald Mountain in the warmer months offers stunning vistas and great exercise to those on foot

Also “in town” are popular hiking and biking trails near the White Clouds golf course across from Sun Valley Resort. Don’t forget Bald Mountain offers a great cardiac workout, terrific views and the possibility of a fabulous lunch to reward you for your efforts. Start at the River Run side of the hill and bear right to the Bald Mountain Trail. This leads, in switchbacks, both to the Roundhouse Restaurant (offering a fabulous barbecue deck lunch through September 8), and all the way to the summit. If you want to channel your inner local, head straight up the Warm Springs or River Run ski runs to the top. It’s an unbeatable workout and who knows, maybe you will want to take the Baldy Hill Climb later this month.

Slightly further afield, but still a very short drive from town, the Adams Gulch trailhead just north of Ketchum provides many trail options for hiking and mountain biking, as do Chocolate Gulch and Fox Creek. To the east, a hike to the historic Pioneer Cabin (there are three different routes up) is one of the most beautiful in the area. In the fall, this very popular hike is more lightly traveled and it is the perfect time to go.

The walk up to Pioneer Cabin is beautiful, but the real pay out is cresting the final ridge

The walk up to Pioneer Cabin is beautiful, but the real payout is cresting the final ridge

For all these hikes, remember, even if the trailhead is right up the street, you are in altitude and the autumn weather can be variable so be prepared. Bring plenty of water and a light rain shell, layers, wear comfortable sturdy shoes, bring a snack or lunch and sunscreen is a must.

For a full list of current trail conditions, please click HERE.

September is the most beautiful hiking month in the Wood River Valley, at least by my account. Take some time for yourself, get out there and hit the trails!

–RES

I Can See Clearly Now

Blue skies and picture perfect weather welcomed diners to lunch at Roundhouse Restaurant Thursday

Blue skies and picture perfect weather welcomed diners to lunch at Roundhouse Restaurant Thursday

The weather Thursday was bluebird skies, scattered white fluffy clouds, bright sunshine and no smoke: the perfect day to kick off Labor Day weekend by hopping on the River Run gondola to ascend to a barbecue lunch with the best view in town.  Sailing over the single track mountain bike trails and ski runs, the ride on the gondola is beyond scenic. As you soar above the tree line, the majestic Pioneer Mountains provide a sublime vista to the east, while the cities of Ketchum and Sun Valley take form in miniature below.

But getting there is only half the fun when you decide to have lunch at the historic Roundhouse restaurant. Perched at 7,700-feet above Ketchum, Roundhouse says Sun Valley like nothing else. With its rustic interior, vast decks and unparalleled views, a meal there shouldn’t be missed.

The view is unbeatable from the Roundhouse deck -- and the barbecue lunch lives up to its surroundings

The view is unbeatable from the Roundhouse deck -- and the barbecue lunch lives up to its surroundings

Roundhouse just reopened for the rest of the summer season and will serve a tasty, varied barbecue menu through September 8. Choose from traditional beef burgers or veer into the more esoteric: buffalo burgers, chicken burgers, veggie burgers (my choice – delicious!), bratwursts and entrée salads. Sides include homemade coleslaw, potato salad, fruit salad or chips. Enjoy a beer, wine, cocktail or soft drink with your sophisticated picnic on the deck.

From Friday to Monday, the Lookout Restaurant atop Baldy will also offer its wildly popular taco bar at lunch to those enjoying a hike, bike ride or sightseeing trip on the mountain. Lift service to Lookout begins where the gondola lets off to get riders to the tip top of the hill.

A gondola ride up to the historic Roundhouse for lunch is a must-do Sun Valley activity

A gondola ride up to the historic Roundhouse for lunch is a must-do Sun Valley activity

Lunch with a view is just one of many must-do activities to put on your Labor Day weekend “to-do” list. One of the busiest holidays of the year in Sun Valley, there are parades to delight; antiques and art to browse and buy; cars to covet; pancakes of which to partake.

The annual multi-day celebration that is Wagon Days is jam-packed. Starting Friday, Arts, Crafts and Antiques Fairs can be found up and down the Valley. From 4 – 7 p.m. that day, cowboy poets, old-time fiddling, western music and more will delight at the Ore Museum in Ketchum with concerts from Matt Renner and the band Slow Children Playing to follow.  Also Friday night, local art galleries will open their doors and welcome lookers and buyers from 5 – 8 p.m.

The "Big Hitch," made up of six enormous ore wagons is a sight to behold and the grand finale of Saturday's parade

The "Big Hitch," made up of six enormous ore wagons, is a sight to behold as the grand finale of Saturday's parade

Saturday is the big show with many events leading up to Wagon Days‘ famous Big Hitch Parade. Starting at 8 a.m., bring the entire family to Ketchum for an old-fashioned, all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast with all proceeds benefiting local youth groups. The kids can work off that carb-fueled energy at a children’s carnival featuring mini train rides, astro jumps, a climbing wall, bungee run and more.

At 1 p.m. the Big Hitch Parade rolls down Sun Valley Road. This, the largest non-motorized parade in the Northwest, features museum quality buggies, carriages, carts, stagecoaches and wagons that illustrate and honor the tenacity of the area’s early settlers. Six gigantic Lewis Ore Wagons, the Big Hitch, pulled by a 20-mule jerkline, offer the eye popping grand finale. Music and festivity in Ketchum extend well into the night following the parade.

The Great Wagon Days Duck Race also follows at Rotary Park. A favorite of children of all ages, this event launches thousands of plastic ducks into to Big Wood River to ‘race,’ all while benefiting local non-profits.

Sun Valley's Silver Car Auction is eye candy for anyone who loves fabulous four-wheelers

Sun Valley's Silver Car Auction is eye candy for anyone who loves fabulous four-wheelers

In Sun Valley, on both Saturday and Sunday, be sure to come by the Silver Car Auction beginning at 9 a.m. 250 collector car owners and dealers display and auction off unique and beautiful cars until 8 p.m. There is eye candy for everyone from admirers of classic cars to sports cars and is a must-see for aficionados of every persuasion.

While in Sun Valley, be sure to stop into the Konditorei or Gretchen’s for a delicious breakfast or lunch, or grab gourmet sandwiches to go at the Short Line Deli followed by a special ice cream treat at a la mode. Village restaurants will be serving dinner over the weekend, too – the perfect way to unwind and enjoy the best in local flavors and handcrafted recipes after a very busy day.

And then there is the final Sun Valley on Ice show of the year starring Johnny Weir, rodeos, more live music, a hoedown, western dance – not to mention golf, biking, hiking, tennis, horseback riding, the Gun Club, fly fishing, swimming …! There is so much to do, it’s a good thing it’s a long weekend.

The Great Wagon Days Duck Race is a spectacle and fun for children of all ages!

The Great Wagon Days Duck Race is a spectacle and fun for children of all ages!

We can’t wait to see everyone out in Sun Valley and Ketchum enjoying glorious weather (the forecast looks great), a fantastic array of events and fun for everyone. We are all so grateful that Wagon Days is on and better than ever and can’t wait to share this spectacular weekend, as well as our own very special, very active version of normal, with our guests. It’s going to be a great Labor Day weekend!

To borrow shamelessly from the incomparable Johnny Nash, Jimmy Nash and others, “It’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day…”

–RES

Sun Valley Salutes Firefighters and Looks Forward to Labor Day

The simple sign at the base of River Run said it all Sunday night

The simple sign at the base of River Run said it all Sunday night

The intermittent heavy rain that fell this weekend offered more than a hint of the poetic following the raging wildfires that threatened the Wood River Valley just a week ago. As the moisture swept through in waves during Saturday night’s Sun Valley On Ice show that benefited the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, and again on Sunday, during a huge picnic and concert at River Run honoring the 2,000-plus heroes who fought the behemoth Beaver Creek Fire, there was no question there was change in the air. With her thunderous announcements in the evening sky, Mother Nature proclaimed that Sun Valley had turned a corner – that it’s time, again, to look ahead.

Visitors and locals mingled with fire professionals at the base of River Run, looking forward to enjoying the rest of the summer

Visitors and locals mingled with fire professionals at the base of River Run and looked forward to enjoying the rest of the summer

Sunday evening’s party at the base of Baldy’s River Run drew firefighters from all over the state and country who were part of the Great Basin National Incident Management Team #1. It also drew our local heroes from the Ketchum, Sun Valley, Hailey and Wood River Fire Departments. To say thank you, Sun Valley distributed 565 tickets to firefighters and their families, providing a full western barbecue and beverages, all for free.

A little rain couldn't keep the crowd away from the party at River Run where locals and visitors were able to thank firefighters in person

A little rain couldn't keep the crowd away from the party at River Run

In the light drizzle, the firefighters, still in uniform, looked relaxed and happy, enjoying live music from local bands Up a Creek and Old Death Whisper. They shook hands with appreciative locals and visitors alike and by all accounts, greatly enjoyed the party thrown in their honor.

“We thought we’d have the picnic to bring the entire community together to thank the firefighters,” said Jack Sibbach, Head of Sun Valley Marketing. “This fire affected the entire Wood River Valley and this was a great opportunity for everyone to gather in one place and say thank you. It’s also the time for all of us to now look forward to the rest of the summer and the fall.”

At the storied Sun Valley ice show Saturday night, the fire’s Incident Commander Beth Lund also expressed her appreciation for the huge turnout, the support for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and for the Valley that so clearly valued her team’s efforts. She reiterated how dangerous a job it is to fight these fires and how organizations like the Wildland Firefighter Foundation provide critical help to families who suffer a loss or an injury amid the unpredictable flames.

Admission to Saturday's Sun Valley On Ice was free, but donations were accepted on behalf of the Wildland Firefighters Foundation

Admission to Saturday's Sun Valley On Ice was free, but donations were accepted on behalf of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation

The cast of Sun Valley On Ice then emerged under the lights wearing fire hats and skated from the heart, honoring the events of the past weeks. The show was provided free to guests with a suggested donation to the firefighters.

Sun Valley truly has turned a corner; skies are clear, the sun is shining. Those short-lived evening rain showers washed away any remaining ash and soot and changed the entire feeling up and down the Wood River Valley.

Starting Wednesday, jump on the gondola and head up to Roundhouse for lunch with a pretty spectacular view

Starting Wednesday, jump on the gondola and head up to Roundhouse for lunch with a pretty spectacular view

Now it’s time to end the summer on a high note. Bald Mountain reopens to foot, bike and gondola traffic on Wednesday, August 28.  The gondola will run daily from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and the deck at Roundhouse Restaurant will offer a daily barbecue. There is no more scenic place to eat. Beginning Friday, the famous taco bar at Lookout also makes and end-of-summer, back-by-popular demand appearance.

Sun Valley has extended its sale on winter passes through September 15. Don’t miss this opportunity to save up to $350 on what promises to be an amazing snow season. This year, there are seven passes from which to choose, including a new Young Adult Pass, as well as a new installment payment plan for select products. Come by the River Run Ticketing Office, buy a $15 ticket for the gondola and check out what’s new for the coming season!  While you’re at River Run Plaza, be sure to also pop into Brass Ranch and check out the sale in progress.

The centerpiece of the Big Hitch Wagon Days Parade is something you have to see to believe

The centerpiece of the Big Hitch Wagon Days Parade is something you have to see to believe

For Labor Day weekend, it’s on! Festivities begin in earnest on Friday and run all the way through the Monday holiday. Highlights include: an antique car show and auction, Rebecca Rusch’s Private Idaho bike tour, pancake breakfasts in Ketchum, the final ice show of the season featuring crowd favorite Johnny Weir, rodeos, antique and art shows, an Art Gallery walk, a western shoot-out, and of course, the Big Hitch Parade. Be sure to be in Sun Valley during one of the best Labor Day celebrations in the nation.

And it’s not over after Labor Day! September in Sun Valley is a spectacular month during which to golf, hike, bike, fly fish … you name it. This year, it is also a spectacular month for music. Tickets are on sale now for Reckless Kelly, playing September 6 at the Sun Valley Pavilion and Clint Black who will entertain under the sail on September 12.

Again, we thank the amazing firefighters for giving us the gift of enjoying this upcoming Labor Day celebration and the renewed opportunity to truly appreciate the beauty and splendor of our one-of-a-kind valley.

Rest up now. It’s about to get busy!

–RES

Come Out, Thank a Firefighter and Celebrate

The valiant efforts of 1,500 firefighters saved our beautiful Valley. Come say thank you Sunday night at River Run

The valiant efforts of 1,500 firefighters saved our beautiful Valley. Come say thank you Sunday night at River Run

With the monstrous Beaver Creek Fire now 70 percent contained and clear, sunny skies prevailing over Sun Valley, it is time to show our appreciation for the firefighters who protected our Valley and the way of life we so value.

Just a week ago, the outcome of this fire was very uncertain as crews worked around-the-clock from Hailey to north of Ketchum (photo Great Basin NationalIncident Management Team #1)

Just a week ago, the outcome of this fire was very uncertain as crews worked around-the-clock to contain it from Hailey to north of Ketchum (photo Great Basin National Incident Management Team #1)

Sun Valley Resort is throwing a picnic on the River Run lawn this Sunday, August 25, to do just that. Everyone is invited to bring a blanket or chairs down to the mountain beginning at 6 p.m. for an evening of celebration and entertainment featuring the popular bands Old Death Whisper and Up A Creek.

There will be a complete western barbecue with chicken and ribs, beer, refreshments and ice cream available for purchase. You are also welcome to bring a picnic.

The brave men and women who walked into the flames of the Beaver Creek Fire have earned a standing ovation from all of us. Come down Sunday night to honor them, reconnect with friends and neighbors and take in the beauty of everything that was saved. Many firefighters are expected to be in attendance so you can express your appreciation personally.

Please check back to the blog for updates on this event.

–RES

Two of Ketchum Fire Department's finest work Wednesday to ensure the danger has passed

Two of Ketchum Fire Department's finest work Wednedsay to ensure the danger has passed