Boise County has only 3 remaining unclimbed 10k+ peaks, all deep in the heart of the Sawtooth Wilderness. But I have been increasing my trail running mileage for months, and these peaks presented the perfect chance to test my abilities.
Ruby Dome is the highest peak in the Ruby Mountains of Nevada. I've heard the phrase "best kept secret" thrown around a lot when talking about different wild places, but the Ruby Mountains truly earn the title. We visited this beautiful wilderness full of towering peaks and alpine lakes on 4th of July and only saw one other group. Brilliant.
Dixie Butte - a 7,500' peak with a road to the top. Sound boring? Try it in the winter. What may otherwise be a slog up a dusty double track becomes a trek through a peaceful and empty forest. And don't let the height fool you - once you break above treeline you're treated to views often reserved for peaks with 5-digit elevations.
With a name like "Nip Benchmark," I don't blame you for being underwhelmed. And it's true. It's really not much of a peak - you can hardly even tell where to top is. Only a hair over 300' of prominence. In fact there is only one thing that makes this peak stand out, and that is the magic word Location.
The North Fork Owyhee Wilderness (NFO) must be one of the least visited wilderness areas in Idaho, if not the country. Without the dramatic, sweeping canyons of nearby areas, it's a bit of a mystery. However, on our second excursion into the area this spring we found a reason the NFO should be on every Idaho backpacker's shortlist.
This fall we had a short weekend free and were itching for a quick, easy overnight backpacking trip. We also really wanted to camp by an alpine lake. So I was curious . . . what is the closest alpine lake to Boise? A search of Google Earth turned up a nice looking lake only 35 miles (straight-line, not driving) from town. And even better? I could find next to nothing about the lake on the internet.
One of my favorite type of hikes is the "Natural Phenomenon" hike. A hike that allows you to witness something that transcends the already-spectacular beauty of the outdoors and gives you a once-a-season or even once-a-lifetime experience. My hike last weekend to Smith Creek Falls definitely qualifies.
he last few years have been slow climbing big peaks. For 4 years I averaged 5 Alpine 88 peaks per year, then in 2015 that dropped to 2. In 2016 I got my first with a guided climb of Mount Baker and thanks to a busy work schedule it looked unlikely a second was in the works. Then we had a chance to head to Arizona a day early for our Grand Canyon Thanksgiving trip. I seized it, expecting an easy and fun hike. But the weather had other ideas.
I like to explore new places. I rarely return to the same place twice. There is one exception: Grand Canyon National Park. Why? Saying you're going back to Grand Canyon is like saying you're going back to California. It's huge and most of it's secrets require you sacrifice time, sweat and nerves before they reveal themselves. Our latest trip took us far from the crowds on the South Rim into a new part of the canyon as fresh as any new destination.
Oxford Peak is one of the biggest of the basin and range peaks that dominate the southeast corner of my state. 4,030' of prominence is the 10th most in the state, making Oxford elite among Idaho's big mountains. One look from the top, or from the town of Malad below, and that status becomes immediately clear.