I have many great memories of this trip, Ketchum is right up there with the best memories. I found the town to be clean, friendly and everyone had a laid back vibe, the riding was perfect for my level of skill and fitness plus the scenery was a sight to see.
The drive from the Mountain Home KOA was pretty straight forward, long straight highways before turning onto a smaller road and climbing into the Sawtooth Moutains. The approach to Ketchum was sparsely littered with random houses and other structures. The morning light peaked through the random clouds and cast its shadows across the ridgelines and over the gas station, a quick refuel for the truck before the refeul for the boday at Albertsons. I still have the membership discount card somewhere, it helps bring the cost of the humus, cucumber, candy and chips to a reasonable level.
Flickers of colour bounced from the top of Bald mountain, not the greens, browns and blues you would expect. Yellow, orange, red ripples of material gliding on the wind, supporting the weight of the various paragliders who were destined for the earth yet content on defying the effects of gravity for as long as possible. Maybe I will wait for another time to jump on a paraglider. For now we hooked up the lift ticket and headed for the top of the mountain. Although it was daunting be at the top of a mountain, on a bike, I soon realised this was no downhill style ride, Whistler/Sun Peaks/Mammoth are a lot steeper and have more technical trails. Bald mountain has some awesome singletrack cross country style high(er) altitude riding, plus you dont have to ride up the hill to get the flow of the downhill ride.
The first ride was from the right of the lift, Warm Springs trail, traversing the side of the mountain with great views and smooth single track, parts of the trail were littered with rocks but a fun descent back into the village. There was the first stop of what would become many stops to repair MattYs flat before speeding up down the hill and into the village for a bit to eat and browsing a couple of bike stores. After lunch we rode up the lift and took the left side of the mountain, Cold Springs tail, which meandered around a couple of ridges and then dropped down to the valley. A good few hours of riding to boost my confidence! I will probably sleep well tonight…..oh yeah all this fun and we still have to find a campsite.
We drove around a few campsites outside of Ketchum, looking for a good pad with decent services – running water helps. Eventually we decided to stay at the North Fork campground, we cooked up dinner, messed around with cameras and then headed to bed. For the trip I had told the other two that it was going to be warm and until tonight we had no problem. MattY had come all the way from the UK with a thin sleeping bag and lots of summer clothing, MattT had heavier clothing as he had come down from Whistler. When I took a look at my tent pole in the morning the frost had started to form around some sections, that confirmed how cold it was last night. My toes had been a warning sign, MattY confirmed it with his story about the overnight freezing cold that he experienced even after he had put on every single item of clothing that he had brought. Todays breakfast was best consumed in the coffee shop in town – they had some good oatmeal that warmed everyone up and also allowed us to plan the next couple of days. First on the agenda was another ride in the hills of Sun Valley called Greenhorn, this was a recommended ride from one of the local bike shops.
The trail head is located south of Ketchum, up a service road where we found a nice empty parking lot. After a washroom break and gearing up with bags, water and food we headed off onto the smooth singletrack, surrounded unadulterated nature. The smooth track had some areas or loose dust/sand as we climbed up onto the ridge, it was pretty steep too! The ride along the ridge was awesome, views all around for miles, the photos with my cheap point and shoot do not do it any justice. The nice thing with being at the top – its all down from there, the first part of the descent was pretty steep and not being used to biking I was on the edge of my seat grabbing my brakes trying not to flip over the handle bars. I survived, which is more than I can say for MattYs inner tube. 10 or so minutes passed while I messed around on the bike waiting for us to get going again. The final part of the ride had more switchbacks and dropped into the valley through some taller grasses and more trees, writing this makes me want to go back. By the time we got back to the truck we had enjoyed a good ride, the sun was hot and we were going to head of for the next destination – Moab…..do I have what it takes?