I didn't intend to milk our October 2020 road trip for seven months' worth of posts, but I suppose that is what happens when a) it is a 2300-mile, epic trip and b) life goes on and other topics take priority! If you missed the previous instalments, you can check them out here: Part I: Ghost Towns; Part II: Yellowstone; Part III: Yellowstone and Teton Valley; Part IV: Jackson Hole and the Tetons; Part V: High Life in Utah; Part VI: Museum of Clean; Part VII: Idaho Potato Museum and Idaho Falls; and Part VIII: Craters of the Moon/Silver Creek Preserve.
Our final days found us in Ketchum, Idaho, home to Sun Valley Ski Resort. In October, a "shoulder season", it was quiet. Social distancing and masking made it comfortable to peruse a few shops and go out for dinner. But first, we were intrigued by the Sawtooth Mountains, and set out to hike to Alice Lake and Twin Lakes. As we drove to the trailhead, we couldn't stop "oohing" and "aahing" over the dramatic mountains before us. I am afraid the pictures do not do them justice.
As we gained elevation, we encountered more snow. Although we saw a few footprints ahead of us, they were soon lost amid this gigantic scree field. With little to go on for the direction of the trail, we had to abandon the hike and re-trace our steps.
In the sun, Pettit Lake sparkled, and the mountains beyond were visible. What a transformation from the morning mists that had shrouded the landscape!
On the drive back to Ketchum, we stopped briefly at a pull-out so I could take more pictures of mountains. As we like to ask each other - "Did I tell you I like snow-capped mountains?" I marveled at the contrast between the plains and the mountain ranges - such a classic vista.
While my fly-fishing fiend visited two of the fly-fishing establishments in town, I made a bee-line for the only advertised embroidery shop. I could easily have bought a number of projects, but the sticker shock put me off. So I entertained myself taking pictures of a couple of murals on electrical boxes.
On the recommendation of the friendly staff at our hotel, we ventured to the Cellar Pub. As you might guess from the food and drinks below, the joint earned a "10" from us!
The next day was our final one on the road -- destination? HOME! We left shortly after 8 am with almost 500 miles ahead of us. An inch of snow lightly covered the landscape, and the temperature gauge read 19. We hoped that Galena Pass would not be treacherous - the truck still sported its summer tires! We were in luck - the roads there were dry! We stopped for gas and a comfort break in Stanley, Idaho - population 63, according to the sign! We chatted with the man behind the cash register, and he informed us that the town had voted to put a 10-year hold on the sale of ANY lots - now that's one way to arrest development in a place with spectacular views!
The drive from Stanley to Challis and on to Salmon, as it meanders along the Salmon River, was a photographer's paradise. We resolved to return here when we have time to stop frequently.
As we began to navigate the switchbacks to the summit of Lost Trail Pass (also the location of Lost Trail Ski Resort), the road became more snow-covered.
We crested the summit, entered Montana and the roads became even icier - the shade on the northeastern aspect of the road, combined with the frigid temperatures, made for less than ideal conditions. Yes, this was October 25!!!
The roads were not much better when we reached the valley; the heavy snowfall and low temperatures meant that the snow was frozen into ruts and driving was slow. We were ever so relieved to arrive home safely at 5.30 pm. Five hundred miles in 9.5 hours - yikes! I am so grateful that Spousal Unit prefers driving - he certainly did the heavy lifting that day! (If you look closely, you can see that #1 Son is opening the front door to welcome us, 12 days after our departure.) Home Sweet Home.