Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hike with the experts

Idaho Conservation League offers series of summer outings


By JASON KAUFFMAN
Express Staff Writer

Colorful wild lupines are a common sight during mountain hikes around the Wood River Valley. Photo by Mountain Express

One of the best ways to experience the Wood River Valley's magnificent mountain scenery is to head out from any one of the many trailheads that dot the valley from north to south.

The hundreds of miles of single-track trail that lace the valley's Smoky, Boulder and Pioneer mountain ranges are a veritable treasure trove of beautiful mountain vistas, hidden clear-water streams and wide-open, wildflower-filled meadows.

On July 2, the Idaho Conservation League, a Boise-based environmental organization that also has offices in Ketchum, will kick off the Gloria Moore Osberg Summer Hiking Series with a hike in Greenhorn Gulch, a lovely drainage on the west side of the valley between Ketchum and Hailey.

Gloria Moore Osberg is the author of local hiking guidebooks "Day Hiking in Sun Valley" and "Easy Hikes Around Sun Valley." She has published and sold the guidebooks for many years to benefit the work of the Idaho Conservation League, a news release from the organization states. The books are available in local shops and bookstores.

Robin Garwood, wildlife biologist for the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, will lead the July 2 outing to inform hikers about how local wildlife has fared since last summer's massive 48,520-acre Castle Rock Fire.

Follow-up hikes will offer the chance to see wolves and visit alpine lakes and other nearby national forest areas.

The ICL's 2008 summer hiking series will include eight hikes highlighting roadless areas and wild country in the surrounding Sawtooth and Salmon-Challis national forests.

A wolf hike that will be held in July will be done in conjunction with the Boulder-White Clouds Council.

Following is a partial list of hikes through the end of July that the ICL will be sponsoring throughout the summer:

· Wednesday, July 2: Robin Garwood, wildlife biologist with the Sawtooth National Forest, will lead a hike on the north side of Greenhorn Gulch. Participants will witness the impacts from last summer's Castle Rock Fire and learn about its effects on local wildlife populations. Total length is 5-6 miles; difficulty is moderate.

· Saturday, July 12: East Fork of the Big Wood River to Parker Gulch. This hike is close to town and it's not in the guidebooks. Hike from the East Fork over the saddle to finish in Elkhorn. Enjoy great views on a beautiful, sparsely used trail. Total length is eight miles with a 2000-foot elevation gain; difficulty is strenuous.

· Wednesday, July 16: Norton Lake-Big Lost Lake Loop. This challenging hike in the Smoky Mountains northwest of Sun Valley has everything: alpine scenery, wildflowers and several remote mountain lakes. Mountain goats occupy the surrounding cliffs and peaks. Total length is five miles with a 1600-foot elevation gain; difficulty is strenuous.

· Sunday, July 27: Wolf ecology hike near Stanley. Join Lynne Stone of the Boulder-White Clouds Council and ICL's John Robison to look for wolves, wolf tracks and signs, and discuss the future of wolf management in Idaho. Bring the family along to learn more about wildlife. Total length is four miles; difficulty is moderate.

The complete list for this year's hikes through the end of August can be found on the ICL Web site at www.wildidaho.org. For more information or to make reservations, call the ICL at 726-7485.




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