That March morning when those of us in the US “sprung forward” to daylight savings time was a grey one in Ketchum, Idaho. Clouds covered the mountain ridge line. And after two blue sky days of downhill skiing, J and I took the colorless day as a sign to expand beyond the ski runs on Bald Mountain and experience the snowshoeing trails further along the Wood River Valley.
I had read about Galena Lodge and its snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails – an easy 25-minute drive north of Ketchum – and was intrigued that one half of the couple (Don, of Don and Erin) running the lodge (who met at school in Virginia just a few hours from where I live outside of Washington, DC) is not only an outdoorsman, but went to culinary school. And then there was the photo of two of Galena’s dogs, peering through a window opening above a sign proclaiming, “Loaner Dogs.” Loaner dogs? Yes, just ask, and one of Galena’s resident dogs will happily join you for a snowshoe outing, poop pick-up duty included.
J and I snowshoed a trail with Bandit, our friendly and eager loaner mutt, who led (pulled?) us up and over quiet hills dense with trees along the well-marked Rip and Tear Trail, and past a few yurts for overnight stays. Splitting up our snowshoeing runs with lunch back at the community-owned day lodge, I gravitated toward the “grown up grilled cheese,” which was surprisingly (and nicely so) not overly cheesy with a little crunch from apple and salty bacon. J opted for one of the three soups – chicken with healthy chunks of cauliflower and other vegetables. Galena also serves up a range of coffee and espresso drinks and wines and beers. And there were tall slices of red velvet cake on the counter that day. A fireplace set-off a small lounge area near the espresso machine, while the rest of the space was solid wood tables and chairs for lunchtime eating with a view to the kitchen through the pick-up window. One of Bandit’s buddies was peeking out of the Loaner Dogs window just up above.
Unhurried, Galena was pleasantly busy with individuals and families deciding on the next trail to ski or snowshoe on a wide-open Sunday. Our next round of snowshoeing (without Bandit this time) was along the Valley View Trail leading up to, appropriately, a view to the valley, where we felt glimpses of the sun’s rays trying to burn through the clouds. Next, we hooked up with the Cowboy Cabin Trail, which deposited us into a meadow before we crossed the street back over to the lodge, our outpost.
J and I leisurely returned our snowshoes and left Galena with a local treat – “Don Bars” – accompanied by a friendly warning. Just half of one of these dense peanut butter and chocolate chip studded bars will keep you hunger free from noon through the rest of the day. I held myself to a sliver of the layered bar after shoveling some snow off the front walkway back home, but I’m saving the bulk for a worthier work out. Created by Don the chef, Don Bars, we heard, is funding his retirement. It should be a good one.