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Trip Report Let me tell you about my trip to Idaho!

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WHO WE ARE: Four adult couples who travel together about once every two years to enjoy the outdoors.

WHERE WE STAYED:I have posted reports on trip advisor about the two hotels at which we stayed.
The Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch-south of Stanley
http://tinyurl.com/nwok2
I just can't stop gushing over IRMR, it was such a terrific experience. From drinking lemonade on the front porch, watching the eagles fly over the Sawtooths, reading in front of the fire in the cabin, seeing the full moon rise while lounging in the hot springs pool, it was the ideal place to be.

The Inn at Ellsworth Estate-Hailey
http://tinyurl.com/rpluu
This was so much nicer than a chain would have been. Add a gourmet breakfast and a chance to meet Elsa, the owner's Bernese Mountain Dog, it was special!

WHERE WE ATE:
We arrived on different flights from the East coast and opted to spend our first night in Hailey. After a few cold beers on the front porch of the Inn at Ellsworth Estate we walked down Main St to CK's Fine Foods for dinner. It was simply one of the best casual restaurants I have ever visited. The food was fresh and delicious. (Tiff, think Angry Trout) Although we enjoyed excellent mains(incredible wild salmon) and salads, all of us raved about the bread and the sorbets.
The next morning some of us were still on EDST so we walked in town to the Hailey Coffee Shop for some excellent coffee. They also had first class pastries which we had to sample. About nine Steve, the innkeeper, served a very good breakfast of fruit, eggs benedict over smoked trout and strawberry cream cheese french toast. We waddled out to begin our adventure.

Before heading north to Stanley, we stopped at Albertson's and stocked up on fruit, beer, wine and some basic hiking munchies. We bought a small styrofoam cooler which came in handy. We took the road over Galena Summit which is blessed with spectacular scenery. We stopped at Smiley's Creek for the much ballyhooed milkshakes (although they were delicious, we came to regret our excesses when we found out how fabulous desserts at Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch are!)

Our breakfasts and dinners were included in the room rate at the IRMR. The food was very good. They have a new chef who is imaginative. His meals exceeded all our expectations. The pastry chef also wowed us with her lemon meringue pie, an incredible chocolate apricot torte....oh dear, the list does go on. A brief note about the professional service at IRMR. The general manager, Sandra Beckwith, is very much a presence at meals and during the day. She sets a high service standard. The staff are clean cut, professional and very personable. No one was ever too busy to chat or answer questions.

For the most part we ate our lunches on the trail. IRMR provides trail mix and we had the odds and ends we picked up in Hailey to make snacks. We did lunch one day at the Stanley Baking Company. Excellent! Fresh, organic salads, delicious soup and hearty sandwiches. The cookies were just perfect for our pre rafting trip snack (did I mention we are very active and had to keep our energy up???)We also had one lunch at the Kneadery in Ketchum. The food was good, the service frightening. The server was apparently angry about something and slammed dishes, snapped at customers and generally gave off the vibe of mass murderer in the making. We didn't linger.

WHAT WE DID:
We hiked several trails. One word of warning, the altitude can pack a wallop. Although I have hiked at high altitudes (Machu Picchu, Canadian Rockies) without a problem, I was definitely affected by the altitude on this trip. After a day or two it evened out, but be alert and carry lots of water, rest when you need it, and turn around to seek a lower altitude if you really start to feel it. It is not a matter of fitness or age and can affect you any time. The trails we took were well maintained but had few markings. It was easy to lose a trail in the snowbanks. A couple of times we ran into high water (apparently very heavy snowfall this winter) which made it a good idea to have some water sandals with us. Also important to check in at the Ranger stations for trail reports. We were discouraged from taking some popular trails (Alpine Lake) because the water was so high it would have presented a danger. We did Fourth of July Lake and Borah Lake, Horton's Peak (fabulous 360 view), Sawtooth Lake and several shorter hikes. We saw very little wildlife other than birds. The most spectacular thing we did see was the profusion of wildflowers of every variety. Just gorgeous colors in all directions.
We went to Custer, a ghost town northeast of Stanley. It is very interesting and the ranger there, Jenny, is a great storyteller and resource. We spent that afternoon on a rafting trip with White Otter Company. The trip was fun, but expensive for two hours ($67 per person). The guide we had talked non stop about herself and was a bit annoying, but the views are pretty and it was fun to splash around in the cold water for a while.
We saw some excellent mountain bike trails and a really nice trail from Hailey north which is paved and part of the rails to trails project. We will do that the next trip.
Enzian, I did not see any tennis courts up in Stanley. There were a number in Ketchum/Sun Valley which is about forty minutes south. Tiff, no golf courses for you and DH here. They, too, are in Ketchum/Sun Valley.

SOMETHING SPECIAL:
I am celebrating a big OH birthday this year. My pals decided to surprise me with something special every day while we were in Idaho. They conspired with Stephanie Knox, the office manager at IRMR. Stephanie really took this mission to heart.She decorated our cabin on the day of arrival, arranged a serenade, handled a terrific chocolate cake filled with fresh strawberries,mimosas for breakfast....Her infectious laugh and enthusiasm really added to the fun of the trip. Stephanie is a really wonderful part of what makes IRMR worth a visit.

SUMMING IT UP:

When I told friends in North Carolina I was headed to Idaho for a week, the general reaction was an incredulous "Idaho? What's there?" What we found were spectacular natural areas (Frank Church did very well by his home state in preservation of wilderness) and a popular commitment to outdoor activities. There is plenty of shopping and other diversion in Sun Valley, but when you are ready to find your place alone and feel the real splendor of America, head north to Stanley and beyond.

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