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Originally published Saturday, April 12, 2014 at 10:03 AM

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Sunshine in Idaho’s high country: Take your skis!

Warmer April days make for pleasant ski touring while there’s still plenty of snow.

Idaho Statesman


BOISE, Idaho — The bright sun reflects off the snow, and its warmth makes you want to shed the ski parka and snowshoe down the trail in your light sweater.

It’s April, and that means snow country and sun. Forgive me for using a cliché, but it doesn’t get any better than this, really.

It’s amazing that we’re all in a rush to ski during November and December, when the weather’s nasty and the snow’s not that good.

Now, when the weather’s perfect to be up in the mountains on cross-country ski, snowshoe and snowmobile trails, everyone’s thinking about shorts, T-shirts, fishing, boating and walking the Greenbelt. We’re always going on to the next thing.

I’ll admit it’s a crazy time of year in Idaho. I’m having gear storage problems in the garage because of multi-outdoor sports. Skis are stacked up near fishing rods and paddles.

I have to strap the avalanche shovel on the daypack one day for skiing, and then take it off for Foothills day hiking. What a dilemma.

One day it’s ski boots, the next hiking boots. Ski poles, then hiking poles. It kind of creates a mess of gear piled up in the garage ready to go.

OK, back to snow country. Sure, we’ve got boating on low-elevation reservoirs and rivers, desert camping, plenty of fishing holes and lots of hiking in the low country.

But to me, the best of ski or snowshoe season has started, and that’s been luring me up to the high country. We snowshoed Gold Fork Park N’ Ski area northeast of Idaho City on a recent weekend, and conditions were perfect for hot dogs cooking on the grill during a parking lot tailgate party and fun on the trail.

I love it when you get corn snow that’s great for skiing. The kick and glide is perfect, and you have a lot of control carving tele turns. The snow is solid enough that you can go almost anywhere off trail.

I guess a good idea is to alternate weekends in the low country and high country.

Listen up! The mountains got 5 to 9 inches of new snow in the last few days. Yikes! Mores Creek Summit still has more than 93 inches of snow, and the trails are packed.

Other snow areas: Secesh Summit (McCall area), 80 inches; Galena (Sun Valley area), 55 inches; Galena Summit, 71 inches; Bear Basin (McCall area), 40 inches; and Banner Summit (Stanley area), 92 inches.

Still, it’s a time of the year where you are going to find bare spots in the high country. Most of the tree wells are melting down to dirt. You’ll find some trails littered with pine needles and other wind debris, but who cares?

The daytime temperatures are around 50 and it’s perfect for light clothing.

Even the dog loves the go-anywhere snow. Phoebe likes being able to run on top of the snow without sinking up to her chin.

Yup. The spring snow season has begun. Just get your gear organized.

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