SkiTrax - - Gear Test - By Jonathan Wiesel

Set in the spec­tac­u­larly rugged Saw­tooth Moun­tains, Sun Val­ley Nordic (these days, you can add “& Snow­shoe Cen­ter”) was one of the first cross-coun­try ar­eas in North Amer­ica, chrono­log­i­cally just af­ter Ver­mont's Trapp Fam­ily Lodge and just be­fore Cal­i­for­nia's Royal Gorge. It's com­ple­mented by a vast se­ries of trail net­works, mostly main­tained by the Blaine County Recre­ation Dis­trict, with iconic Galena Lodge as their cen­ter­piece.

My mem­o­ries of the re­gion are pretty won­der­ful, be­gin­ning around 1980 with an out-of-the-blue phone call from Dan Hamil­ton, then co-owner of Galena Lodge, of­fer­ing me the po­si­tion of man­ager. It was a huge morale-lifter at a very dif­fi­cult time per­son­ally, and though I didn't take the job (I'd never even been to the area), it's some­thing I re­call re­ally fondly and won­der, "What if . . . ?"

Since then, I've vis­ited many times, mostly in win­ter, and en­joyed – hmmm - maybe a quar­ter of the trails? That's ac­tu­ally not neg­li­gi­ble, since we're talk­ing about a cu­mu­la­tive 200 kilo­me­tres. There's tremen­dous di­ver­sity in ev­ery­thing from ter­rain to snow­fall to sur­round­ings – some trails on the edge of Sun Val­ley Re­sort and the neigh­bour­ing town of Ketchum, some higher and far from sight of any struc­ture or even a road.

So here's my take on ski­ing the two cen­ter­pieces of the re­gion. It feels like a long and af­fec­tion­ate shared his­tory.

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