Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Sun Valley Revels in Snowpocalypse
Elk sported noses caked with snow, and the fish kept biting despite the weather.
Sunday, February 10, 2019


The snow caked on the Australian shepherd’s grinning face at the finish line of Ski the Rails said it all.

The snow just never let up.

Light snow started falling about 5 p.m. Friday and, by the time the sun didn’t rise Saturday morning, Bald Mountain had collected more than five inches of snow.

The snow didn’t faze this dog who happily took part in Ski the Rails.

It only kept snowing, amassing 15 inches by the time skiers lugged their weary quads into the lodge Saturday afternoon. And  by morning Sun Valley was reporting 29 inches had fallen overnight.

Smiles were broad as skier after skier bragged about what may have been the best powder day of their lives, starting with fluffy runs through powder up to their knees on groomed runs.

Though the highway couldn’t be seen beneath the snow that kept falling, nothing seemed to grind to a halt.

About 200 skiers turned out for Ski the Rails from Ketchum to Hailey, according to Blaine County Recreation District spokesperson Janelle Connors, despite a steady snow that dumped a couple inches on what used to be the Union Pacific Railroad track after the groomer had made his last pass.

Anne Jeffery tries to down a cookie at a Ski the Rails aid station before it becomes weighted down by snow.

Given temperatures in the low 20s, the snow was light as a feather as the skiers scissored their way through it, dogs romping along the side.

It was a big contrast to last week when the 27 degrees atop Baldy at 6 in the morning provided an 80-degree contrast to Fargo, N.D., and Duluth, Minn., which were 53 below that day.

Sun Valley Community School Coach Richard Whitelaw called Ski the Rails “a good slog,” Ketchum City Council Representative Courtney Hamilton, “a ski adventure.”

Dudes on Nordic Skis and others kept the skiers amped up with high-octane Don Bars, chocolate chip cookies and brownies prepared by Galena Lodge, along with schnapps and even beer from a keg.

These two fishermen from San Francisco were among dozens that trekked through the snow to find peace on the end of a fly-fishing rod.

A couple from Salmon were among those taking part.

“We heard about it and decided to give it a try. It worth doing again,” said the young man as he stepped out of his skis.

Just a week ago snow surveyors reported under-average snow packs throughout southern and central Idaho, giving farmers cause for consternation.

But snowstorm earlier in the week took the Big Wood Basin snow pack from about 80 percent to 91 percent. And by Saturday afternoon the Hyndman Peak stood at 95 percent while the one at Galena Summit was 90 percent.

Power Engineers’ Kelvin Yee enjoys the scenery from the Pegram truss railroad bridge south of Ketchum during Saturday’s Ski the Rails.

By Sunday morning Hyndman Peak was at 101 percent of average, while the Galena Summit was at 94 percent and the entire Big Wood Basin was at 95 percent. That's 67 percent of the average season snow pack.

The Soldier Mountains SNOTEL site reported 115 percent of average for this time of the year—not bad for an El Nino forecast of a dry, warm winter. And weathercasters say they could receive as much as 58 inches of snow in the coming days.

Additional snowstorms forecast for this week could take the Big Wood Basin to 100 percent of average, noted Nordic Ski patroller Ted Angle.

“This is opposed to 70 percent of average last year at this time,” he added.

Those who tried to shovel Saturday afternoon found themselves with another inch or two of fluff on their driveway by the time they finished.

It may not have been the 10 feet that Bobbie and Art Dahl’s son found himself in at Mammoth Mountain earlier this week. But no one was complaining.

Life went on, as compared to Seattle where eight inches of snow—what they typically get in an entire season—fell at Sea-Tac airport, canceling flights, leaving 80,000 without power and prompting  the state’s governor to declare a state of emergency.

The Sun Valley Suns played Game No. 1000 Saturday night at Campion Ice House, beating Holy Cross 4-1.

And fishermen turned out in droves.

“We don’t mind,” said one fisherman from San Francisco. “But we only fish in the snow when we’re on holiday.”


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