Friday, July 9, 2010

New hikerís bible hits the stores

Guidebook presents detailed information on 127 trails

Express Staff Writer

ďExploring Sun Valley: A Comprehensive Guide to the Boulder, Pioneer and Smoky Mountains,Ē Idaho River Publications, $30, 131 pp.

Last year, valley resident Matt Leidecker hiked more than 550 miles from April through October. In those 186 days, he took copious notes and observations to create his latest guidebook, "Exploring Sun Valley: A Comprehensive Guide to the Boulder, Pioneer and Smoky Mountains."

Leidecker is the author of guides to the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and the Rogue River in Oregon.

"I write a guidebook every two years," Leidecker said. "It's a recurring market, and they are all good ideas."

Leidecker's full-color spiral-bound, waterproof book is an information extravaganza on the 127 known trails in the Wood River Valley, covering routes in the Boulder, Pioneer and Smoky Mountains. In addition, Leidecker points out numerous off-trail adventures and a few helpful points of interest to get the most out of a hiking experience.

"It has color maps, comprehensive history, geology, wildflowers and photography," Leidecker said. "There are close-to-town hikes and more extensive, all-day hikes farther from town."


Leidecker's book has easy-to-read topographic maps that show distances and connecting trails as well as "guide markers" that refer the reader to information about trailheads, history and campgrounds. The book is tabbed on the edges to designate sections based on the three mountain ranges, history, geology and general information.

"There are some interesting history about names of peaks, such as where Devil Bedstead is located," said Leidecker. "It's what makes doing this interesting."

Leidecker includes south valley trails and the new proposed Croy Canyon trails, which will excite many people looking forward to covering some new ground.

The book contains a comprehensive list of hikes near the beginning, but suffers from the lack of an index.

"Exploring Sun Valley" is available at various grocery stores, retail stores and sports stores throughout the valley. For details, visit

A personal history and photographs of Leidecker's explorations on the trails around the Wood River Valley are contained in an article in the Summer issue of the Sun Valley Guide magazine, available free on racks throughout the valley.

Sabina Dana Plasse:

Who is Jon Francis?

Jon Francis was a 24-year-old youth minister at Luther Heights Bible Camp near Alturas Lake, an accomplished climber and cross-country runner. He was last seen just before reaching the summit of Grand Mogul in the Sawtooth Mountains south of Stanley on June 15, 2006. The Custer County sheriff called out a search party on June 16, which was called off after 29 hours of searching. Jon's father, David, continued searching until Jon's remains were discovered on July 24, 2007. It is now believed that Jon attempted to descend the Grand Mogul through the Chockstone Couloir, a gully on the north face of the mountain, when he fell and died as a result of blunt-force trauma. David has since set up a foundation in his son's name, an advocacy group that works to counsel families of missing persons, organize searches and reform the search-and-rescue process.

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