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Boise, Idaho; River Surfing! Ketchum/Sun Valley, Idaho; Hell Roaring Lake and Creek; A Very Expensive Rainbow Trout

Have I mentioned before that I used to be a surfer? I think my form here is pretty good, considering my age… (My Lovely Bride is laughing hysterically and saying, “In your dreams, Dude!”) Okay, so maybe that’s not me, but whoever he is, I was impressed! This photo was taken near our campground on the Boise River. A fabuloso bike path runs for about 25 miles along the Boise Greenbelt, with many lovely homes and parks along the way.

Boise is one of our favorite places, and while Suzanne was teaching back east in DC, I was racking up bike miles on the Greenbelt. But what is a hungry and thirsty cyclist to do on a hot day, except stop at Joe’s Crab Shack and have some fried catfish, gumbo, garlic bread and a Fat Tire beer?

This is the Boise River in repose… it was actually running faster than I had hoped, because I wanted to do some fly fishing. I went out twice, returning fishless, but the locals said that the 1,500 cfs (cubic feet per second) flow rate was too high. Sigh… the story of my life, “You should come back in a few weeks; the fishing will be great then!”

I passed this sign on a telephone pole that provided some sobering information… it stood about 15 feet above the current river level. The 1,500 cfs that day was piddling compared to the 21,000 cfs on April 20, 1943, and that was before “deplorables” were driving SUVs and pickup trucks… (must have been Russian weather interference…) but I digress.

This guy is well-prepared for the next flood. He has his Jeep and boat towed behind his RV. I’ll bet he has a shotgun, .30-.30 Winchester and fishing rod ready for living off the land… and probably no kale in the fridge!

While in Boise, we met up with Teresa Stella, a friend from Palm Springs, CA, who had just moved here. Teresa and her fur baby Sparky were happy to arrive in their new home – especially Sparky, who now has a big yard to run around. 

From Boise, it was a 3 hour drive up to Ketchum, Idaho, adjacent to Sun Valley, one of the premier ski resorts in the US. The country here is beautiful – this was the early morning view from our coach…

Hiking here in the Sawtooth Mountains is fabulous, and we wanted to let Rudy and Gretchen enjoy the scenery, so we took them on a 5 mile hike in our special doggie backpacks. Here is My Lovely Bride with Gretchen, now 13, who is her normal subdued self… keeping an eye around the area for squirrels, but otherwise not commenting on much. Rudy simply sleeps a lot when we’re hiking – at 14, he’s slowing down a bit, like his Dog Dad. But both our babies would rather be with us than back in the coach.

I took the opportunity while in Sun Valley to drive farther north to backpack in the Sawtooth Wilderness, which is a famous destination for hikers and fly fishermen.

My destination was Hell Roaring Lake; the trail parallels Hell Roaring Creek, and climbs up a glacial moraine, remnants of the massive movement of boulders and rocks that occurred during the last Ice Age, part of the Pleistocene period, from about 2.6 million years until about 11,600 years ago. (Yep, they had climate change back then as well.)

Arriving at the lake, I was greeted by this stunning scene… in the foreground is the lake’s outlet, the start of Hell Roaring Creek. The water is crystal clear and a bit chilly. I filled my water bottles right here, far nicer than a faucet.

I found a flat spot for my tent in a grove of pines and spruce trees. I was close enough to the creek to enjoy the white noise of the stream tumbling over the rocks, but not loud enough to keep me awake at night. My tent door opened toward the lake, which I could enjoy while in my sleeping bag. Bugs weren’t bad, just a few mosquitoes that visited around sunset for an hour or so. I hoisted my food bag into a tree about 100 feet away, just in case an Ursus americanus (black bear) came looking for a midnight snack. (Actually the bigger threat to my food was squirrels and chipmunks, but they are rarely aggressive.)

Sunset and the long shadows gave the lake and surrounding mountains a totally different look… I had expected to encounter at least a half dozen other backpackers here, but I had the entire lake and campsite area to myself for 24 hours… what a blessing. 

After a decent night’s sleep (that means you see every hour on your watch, but go right back to sleep), and only having to get up once to pump bilges, dawn’s early light gently woke me. I fixed a cup of coffee on my tiny gas stove and walked down to the shore to observe one of Nature’s greatest light shows… with absolutely zero wind, the reflections of the trees on the lake were flawless.

I enjoy my solitude while backpacking in the wilderness, but I always miss Suzanne, Rudy and Gretchen. On the way back to the trailhead, I stopped to fly fish in Hell Roaring Creek. I did catch a small rainbow trout (Oncorhyncus mykiss) on an olive midge wet fly, but released him (her?) immediately without a photo, because (1) I didn’t want to stress the fish by taking the time for a photo, and (2) I was standing in the middle of the creek on some small rocks, and getting my phone out of its plastic bag while holding my rod and a flipping fish (literal meaning, not figurative) makes for a clumsy and potentially wet spectacle. MLB reminded me when I told her of my rainbow that the per capita cost of my fly fishing is now down to about $200 per fish, after instruction, waders, river boots, trout net, rod and reel, leaders, tippets, nippers, hemostat, flies, and miscellaneous accessories are included… sigh


  • Anonymous
    Posted November 22, 2020 at 1:05 am

    Wow, what great country you are exploring! Enjoy! Brad

  • Unknown
    Posted November 22, 2020 at 1:05 am

    I love hearing about your adventures Ty! And am jealous of your overnight in that pristine locale. Good for you for being able to do that! xo

  • Cat
    Posted November 22, 2020 at 1:05 am

    This post is absolutely lovely, words and photos. So calming. Thanks for not stressing the fish!


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