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Saturday morning trail report: Marginal for mountain biking

I hit the Polecat Trails at about 9:30 a.m. and rode snowy, icy trails that felt like cobble. It was slick AND bumpy. Lots of crusty snow, too. Not much fun, and it seemed like a minute after the sun hit, it all started getting slushy. I got off the trail on Cartwright Road and finished my ride on pavement, which was a lot better. Pick your trails carefully, plan to be off them early, and if you're mountain biking, you may want to wait a few more days until more snow and ice melts.

Soldier Mountain is in good hands and headed in the right direction

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I snowboarded at Soldier Mountain near Fairfield on Thursday, Jan. 31 with Soldier president Will Varin. It was great to get back on the mountain, which is entering a new era. We talked about the difference between a for-profit ski area and a non-profit, which Soldier now is, and the differences between the ski area being controlled by locals rather than a company located far away. Varin had nothing bad to say about former owner Bruce Willis, who donated the ski area last summer. Willis' company operated Soldier at a loss for several years, but kept it open regardless, and took a substantial financial hit when Willis decided to donate the ski area rather than sell it. His company made sure it went to the right people who are in it for the right reasons. He made a good decision. The hill was staffed with friendly folks, and it operated smoothly from the lifts to the kitchen. Varin said the number of ski visitors is above expectations despite a mediocre snow year, so word is getting out. I will have a full story on the "new" Soldier Mountain on Feb. 14, but if you haven't been there, it's worth checking out.

Gear: Don't slip and slide off your feet

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I walked out on the driveway one morning last week and there was no stopping me. I was snowboarding down the icy driveway without a snowboard.

Icy conditions seem to be the norm this winter and I've nearly taken a dozen flops on icy driveways and sidewalks.

I've seen people walking in Downtown Boise with the aid of ski or trekking poles.

Gear Junkie's best gear from the Outdoor Retailer show

Once upon a time, I used to go to this show, and it was a kid in toyland for me. Now I live vicariously through others, but I still get a charge out of seeing some of the cool stuff featured there.

Gear Junkie is a great website for keeping up with stuff at the OR show, and their best-of-show awards highlight some innovative gear among the thousands and thousands of toys, gear and clothes on display there.

Brundage gets a foot of snow since Monday, Jan. 28, and more is on the way

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The latest winter storm to hit Central Idaho brought more than a foot of snow to Brundage Mountain in the 24 hours between Monday morning and Tuesday morning and about 9 inches to nearby Tamarack. Brundage has seen more than two feet of fresh snow in the past five days, and the ski area’s snow base now ranges from 58 to 89 inches.

“There’s not a pitch or line on the mountain I’d hesitate to ski,” said resort spokesperson, April Russell. “Our slopes are completely buffed out top to bottom and the powder is incredible.”

Forecasters are predicting a significant amount of snow to hit the ski area over the next several days. An additional nine to 18 inches is predicted before the weekend. Tamarack is open Thursday through Sunday, so the powder will be piling up until skiers and boarders get a crack at it on Thursday.
Photo provided by Sam Marvin, Brundage Mountain Resort

Sign up for free avalanche class before it's canceled

ImageThe Idaho City field Avalanche Class scheduled for Sat. Feb. 2 will be canceled if there is not at least 10 participants signed up for the course on Wednesday. Sign up HERE.

Ice fishing tip: Use a spring bobber to detect light bites

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Perch can be amazingly subtle when they take your bait. I learned this the hard way after watching one of the guys in our ice fishing group take over an ice hole I just abandoned and start pulling perch out of it. That stung, but I learned a valuable lesson out of the deal. Spring bobbers attach to the end of your rod and react to very subtle bites. After I put one on the end of my ice fishing rod, I could see bites so subtle my ice fishing rod didn't move and I couldn't feel them through the rod. I hooked a couple fish that surely would have gotten away undetected. This an inexpensive addition to any ice fishing rod that will help you land more fish. I won't fish without one from now one.

Get out of town and the inversion

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If you get a chance to get out of the Treasure Valley, do it. Get out of the inversion.

I did a photo shoot up at Lake Cascade State Park today and it was wonderful to be in the sun.

High elevations are the place to be.

The cross-country skiing, ice fishing, snowmobiling and just hanging out in the sun at Lake Cascade State Park was a wonderful winter tonic needed to break the spell of the Treasure Valley's inversions.

Finally getting some new snow

Brundage and Tamarack both reported 4 to 5 inches this morning, Jan. 24 and Bogus, Sun Valley and Soldier all picked up about an inch. More snow is reportedly on the way this weekend. If you're a skier or boarder, that should perk up your ears. But now comes the dilemma; brave bad roads for new snow? It's kind of a trick question. Of course you will. Enjoy the powder.

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