Subject: Sun Valley and Ketchum, Idaho
Hello all, We just returned from a quick four-day trip to Sun Valley/Ketchum, Idaho. My wife, Sara, was attending a conference at the Sun Valley Resort and I was more than happy to accompany her. This is the second year in a row that we've headed up to Idaho for this particular conference. The weather was gorgeous; sunny skies with moderate temperatures in the day (not oppressive heat like the previous year) while the overnight lows were just chilly enough to remind you that you were, after all, over a mile-high in elevation. And, unlike much of the rest of the western U.S. this year, no wildfires (knock on wood)! Like most mountain towns in the West this area offers a full array of outdoor recreation; hiking, biking, kayaking, horseback riding, fishing, etc. Last year I concentrated on hiking which culminated in an ascent of Bald Mountain (the site of the Sun Valley Ski Area). A pleasant hike which ascends about 3500 ft. in 4.5 miles. The views of Ketchum and Sun Valley below, as well as, the Sawtooth Mountains to the east and north are spectacular. And an added bonus of hiking to the top of this mountain is the option of riding the chairlift back down to the base for free! For those short on time or energy the chairlifts can be ridden to the top and back for a fee. Although Sara and I did do some hiking this year my main focus of activity was biking. In addition to a plethora of mountain biking options this area has a fantastic system of paved recreational bike trails. In the late 20th century (I love to say that) historic railroad lines were converted to bike paths in what came to be known as the rails-to-trails conversion. Today more than 30 miles of recreational bike trails are available with 20 miles of them along the picturesque Wood River and another 10 miles looping though the resort areas of Sun Valley and Elkhorn. With my rear-end firmly planted on my rented cruiser I managed to accumulate over 50 miles over the 2 1/2 days and 4 rides I made. Gladys and Dave in Buffalo would have been proud of me. A wildlife highlight of the trip was watching a doe mule deer and her twin spotted fawns graze outside our condominium window for an hour early Tuesday morning. Bird watching is also an option here. The comical antics of the magpies always bring a smile to my face, soaring raptors are impressive as they ride the afternoon thermals (alongside the daring paragliders launched off the peak at Bald Mountain), and the acrobatics of the swallows along the river banks are unbelievable. This year I was thrilled to catch sight of a Mountain Bluebird flitting amongst a fir tree's boughs as I made my way down a bike path. Serenity is another easy catch while visiting this area. A visit to the Ernest Hemingway Memorial on Trail Creek afforded me some time to reflect on the great author's reasons for falling in love with Ketchum and the surrounding area. And Sun Valley has a couple of ponds with waterfowl populations that I find very peaceful. There's something soothing about relaxing next to water with four large Trumpeter Swans preening their ivory white feathers within arms reach. Oh yeah, dining is an option in Ketchum. This year we returned to the Ketchum Grill where the best bets were the elk loin in a cherry-cinnamon sauce and favorite dessert was a tie between Anna's fresh mint ice cream sandwich and a lemon goat cheese cake. For breakfast and lunch The Kneadery is famous for its omelettes and hash browns (remember Idaho & potatoes?). I enjoyed their homemade chicken-apple sausage, green onion, and Swiss cheese omelette. So, another successful trip to Sun Valley/Ketchum. Next year we may even rent a car to journey north to Stanley, Redfish Lake, and McCall. Supposedly it even gets better as one heads in that direction.

John In San Diego