Back in Sun Valley

We made our annual trip to Sun Valley in mid-June for the Sun Valley Brewfest. Zach tacked a performance in Twin Falls on to the weekend, so we drove up Thursday afternoon. We had just enough time to unload at our Airbnb before going to City Park for his performance. The concert was pleasant – it wasn’t very warm, and I was able to find a shady spot for Tru and I on the park lawn. Zach had a solo on the third piece then played with the band for the rest of the concert. It was the 114th concert season played in the band shell – pretty cool!

In the morning we enjoyed coffee and a delicious savory crepe at Twin Beans in downtown Twin Falls. We weren’t in a rush since our drive to Sun Valley would only take an hour and a half. We were surprised to find the coffee shop a lively place with a full menu and even wine and beer. We rarely find such full service coffee shops in Utah.

We went to our favored campground first – North Fork, the one we’ve stayed at before – to see what was available. We had no trouble finding a spot and got set up in a nice site a little ways back from the campground road.

We hung around for a little while, relaxing and enjoying the beautiful weather. I had a list of potential day hikes which I’d researched (sort of) the day before. Given the snowfall this winter and a generally cool and wet spring, there were a lot of trails only partially open or still closed. For the afternoon, I chose Chocolate Gulch, a nice 4ish mile loop near our campground.

We arrived at the trailhead just before 2:30pm and started soon thereafter. Chocolate Gulch is most commonly done as a loop though it could be done as an out and back too. We went counterclockwise which ended up being great because the prettier portions were at the start of the hike.

The trail crossed the Big Wood River and followed alongside it for the first mile or so. Initially the trail was cut into a steep hillside but then it widened and wildflowers – lupine! – dotted the landscape. It was really beautiful. Plus, we could see into riverside backyards and dream of an unrealistic future.

Once the trail met a bend in the river, it diverted and led us into a nicely shaded forest of lodgepole pine, fir, and spruce. Around the two mile mark we took a break for lunch. We hadn’t eaten since breakfast and I was starving. I thought that would be our halfway point because Blaine County Recreation District had it listed as 3.8 miles, but ultimately I clocked us at 4.6 almost a full mile beyond that.

After our lunch we continued a gradual climb through the forest to a nice overlook of the Boulder Mountains. From there it was all downhill. We left the cover of the trees and entered a landscape of sagebrush, arrowleaf balsamroot, Indian paintbrush, and exposure. Tru was definitely getting tired, but the trail was peppered with enough shade and stream crossings that he persevered. There was even a spot for him to get a final soak and drink at the very end of the hike.

It was a beautiful trail, and I was happy we tried something new – even though I was very tempted to do Taylor Canyon again… We came back to our campsite and hung out for the rest of the day. Truman was so worn out, he wanted to go in the tent at 6!

On Saturday morning we made breakfast, got ourselves ready for the day, and left. I prefer to do a hike before we go to the brewfest in the afternoon. Its benefits are twofold: Truman is worn out and we’ve earned (at least some) of the beer we’ll drink. I thought we could do a three mile hike on Proctor Mountain, but when we reached the trailhead it was full (street parking only) with no overflow option. We opted to do the White Clouds Loop instead.

We began at the far southeastern side of the trail and went clockwise. The first part of the trail was steep, but it leveled out once we reached the top. We had great views overlooking Ketchum as the trail looped around the White Clouds Golf Course. We even had the bonus of blooming lupine! Since winter lasted so long, I’ve noticed that my regular lupine stops in Ketchum were just barely blooming, so I was happily surprised to see so many in bloom!

Interesting color combinations!

The first half of the hike was gorgeous, but the end was dull. As we rounded back to the east, we skirted a new housing development being built up around the golf course. Off the trail, we used the bike path to connect back to our car. It felt like a long haul to close the loop.

Finally back at our car, we changed out of our sweaty clothes and went downtown to the brewfest. It was a gorgeous day, no hail or sudden rain storms. A light sprinkling at the end helped cool us off. We grabbed some dinner in town and went back to our temporary home.

On Sunday morning we were lazy. In no rush to pack up and leave, we took our time. My phone had died overnight, so we decided to go up to Galena Lodge and hike a trail there instead of picking from my list. We still had memories of it covered in snow from our snowshoeing trip and wanted to see how it had thawed out. We did the Gladiator Loop which gave Truman an additional 2.65 miles toward his weekend total of 9.5 miles! It was surprisingly tranquil with few mountain bikers.

We grabbed snacks and coffee at Galena Lodge before starting our journey home. The 5B Chili Cook-off was happening in Hailey again, and Zach couldn’t resist the temptation. We stopped briefly for him to sample several chilis. Truman may even be part of next year’s promotional video for the cook-off!

We made one final stop as we drove home – the Shoshone Snack Bar. We pass it every time we drive to/from Sun Valley and since we won’t be using the same route in the future, I won’t have the opportunity to stop. So I made the most of my last chance with a burger, fries, and a small ice cream for Zach.

I love this sign!
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