Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Weekend in McCall, ID

Despite some severe snowstorms prior to our planned trip to McCall, ID, we made the trip. Throughout the week, we closely watched the weather and traffic reports and even phoned the resort to find out if anyone else was coming in from Boise. People were coming in, but the resort was getting lots of cancellations.

On Saturday, after one more scan of the weather and traffic reports, we packed up the car with our gear (and a solid emergency supply kit) and headed out around noon. The drive was smooth, finally hitting some solid snowfall once we got above 5,000 feet. After a stop to top off the gas tank and get more wiper fluid (man, that stuff can really flow with all of the road grime that builds up in the course of a two-hour drive), we headed into the snow with lots of drifts coming across the road. However, we got into McCall fairly quickly -- faster than expected.

When we got into the Whitetail, I noticed a van -- it was a fellow musician I jammed with a few months back. While checking in, I tracked him and band down. They were looking a little disappointed -- they were to play for 300 people for a fundraiser, and only 40 were going to show (due to the weather). It was good to catch up with the guys.

We checked in, chilled in the room for a while and then headed out for the ice rink. I haven't skated for more than 20 years. It quickly came back to Suz from her days in Denver. It was a first for the girls and they had a blast. After an hour or so, we were ready for dinner and checked out the McCall Inn. Good food, but slow service at the end of the town's Winter Festival.

On Sunday we went tubing. Rebecca wanted the slow lane, but gained an appreciation for speed and we finally got in a few fast runs. Rachael paired up with Suz and they were quickly kicking our butts in speedy runs. After hot chocolate, mom and dad got in another run each. The girls were cold and Rachael was showing signs of a return of her cold. That afternoon, we grabbed some chow at a great burger joint called My Father's Hamburgers. To date, their burgers are the best in Idaho.

Rachael began to show a fever that night, so we dosed her up and made it a mellow night in with movies. Worried she wouldn't rally we chose to cut Monday's plans short to get home and get Rachael to the doctor.

Monday morning, Rachael was still dragging. We showered, packed and glumly checked out. Overall though, a great trip. Next time, we're looking up Blue Moon Adventures -- they have a yurt on some park land that requires a mile hike, snowshoe or ski to get there. Once you get there, you're treated to a gourmet dinner and beautiful views of the lake.

Check out our photos.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Doug Goes Snow Camping

I had to try it. We Metzgars love camping, but doing it in the snow hasn't been done -- yet. We've been snowcurious, but with young kids, anything overnight might be miserable for them.

Thanks to my friend Bryan Oakes, a regular winter camper, I asked to join him on a winter camping trip. By coincidence, a local usergroup posted a snowshoe/winter camping trip for beginners. I was all over it. The plan: We'd snowshoe out on a mellow fire road to a campsite, set up camp, eat, hang out and then snowshoe back to the car the next day.

Things didn't quite happen as planned. We set off on a decent ascent (after I discovered what happens when you fall down in snow that's 3-4 feet deep -- thankfully, your face stops you) but soon found ourselves on top of a ridge with no trail in sight. We pushed on in the general direction of our GPS coordinates, hiking up and down several canyons (yes, sliding on my ass became an option at some points) before connecting with a forest service road. Leaving the navigation up to the group leaders, I assumed we were on the right (and per the map outlining the trip, the level path we should have been on). But fear not, we couldn't resist another draw -- heading straight down to the river where our campsite lay.

I imagined taking photos of that part of the journey, but was a little tired, covered with lots of snow, and reluctant to lose my camera down some canyon drop-off.

However, we made it to camp safety, albeit tired. Had a good time digging in for the night, getting to know the guys and swapping tips and tricks (I should have had a notebook for all of that information).

The next morning, we ate breakfast and just as we started to tear down, the wind and snow began to kick in. We hiked the remainder of the way on a decent trail, even though it was uphill until the parking lot;- ) The snow blew into our faces a lot. We were wet under our raingear, but kept up our core temperatures by hiking hard, eating and drinking lots of water.

Got back to the parking lot. Tossed off all the wet gear and warmed up in the car with more water and M&Ms. The rest of the group soon followed and we got everyone packed up and on our way to Idaho City for some chocolate malts and burgers.

Good times. Cold, wet, but fun as heck. I'm doing it again.

During the hike back and making the pace (you know, you get into a groove of the sound of your snowshoes shushing at a particular rhythm) and I thought about my girls. Would they like something like this? Nope -- Not wind and snow in your face. Maybe an easy hike and camp in the snow? Nope -- I imagined Rebecca, the one who likes to stay warm, crying 15 minutes into the hike, then crying all day in the tent, trying to get warm. Then I realized that a snowshoeing adventure would just have to be an hour-long hike (or less) around the snow, then home for hot chocolate. That's OK. I'll settle for that until they're a little older.

Here are some photos for your perusal:
Crooked River (My Shots)
Crooked River (Owen's Shots)
Crooked River (Steve's Shots)