It was late May, and I had accompanied Matt Bishop into the Foothills for his first morning of Café Mulé coffee service — just me, Matt and Richard the Mule, hiking at sunrise.
About the time the burner wouldn’t light on his Jetboil, I informed Matt there was something I probably should have told him.
My adventures seem to be star-crossed.
After significant tinkering, he got that burner lit — and a surprise success story was born.
And fortunately, for all the mishaps I’ve endured in my first seven months as the Playing Outdoors writer at the Idaho Statesman, none of the problems have been serious.
This seems like a good time to reflect on those seven months. We’re taking this week off from our outdoors coverage while we transition to a new publication day: Tuesday. The Playing Outdoors section returns Tuesday, Sept. 27.
Among the mishaps:
▪ On my first excursion, with a snowshoeing group, I broke one of my poles. Leo Hennessy, who was leading the group, loaned me one of his, which helped me hike through some deep powder in the trees.
▪ I went fat biking for my first feature story. I hit Sun Valley just in time for a snowstorm, which created whiteout conditions. My guide for the day, an experienced mountain biker, crashed first. But I did, too — running into a snow bank that was invisible.
▪ The first time I took my family on a work-related hiking trip, we missed a turn on our way back down the hill on the Station Creek hike. Turns out, the steeper alternate trail ends up back at the same parking lot.
▪ I went on a ride in a racing jetboat in the Snake River. After a somewhat-spooky safety briefing, we hit 80 miles an hour and went zipping past ducks as they were taking off along the river. It was a fantastic ride — until we ran out of gas.
▪ While taking a tour of the Eagle Island zipline, I didn’t travel far enough on one of the lines. I slid backward and got stuck hanging over a pond. One of the workers had to pull me back to the tower.
▪ I lost my sweatshirt while climbing Ryan Peak. It fell off my backpack on the way up and by the time I noticed, I wasn’t sure I could get back to it without sliding down the mountain. So I left it, figuring we’d go back the same way — but no, we found the actual trail for the trip down. The “Outdoor Idaho” crew I hiked with had some good laughs over that one. The leading theory is a mountain goat will use the sweatshirt to stay warm this winter.
▪ And in the scariest incident, I had to drop my son off a chairlift when he missed the seat during the loading process.
Along the way, I’ve enjoyed a dizzying amount of new experiences: fat biking, birding, pickleball, watching an avalanche-rescue dog in action, joining a mixed-doubles tennis league, running with a trail runners group, ziplining, riding an electric bike, hiking three-fourths of the Boise Grand Slam (Lucky Peak, Cervidae and Heinen), riding a GolfBoard, becoming a novice mountain biker, learning to paddleboard, playing Spikeball, rock climbing at City of Rocks and camping/hiking across a wilderness area.
Today, I’m trying a golf bike (more on that in Tuesday’s section).
Tomorrow, who knows?
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The deadline to enter the Playing Outdoors/Idaho Camera photo contest is Oct. 7. Prizes were determined this week. They are:
Grand Prize: Ricoh Theta M-15 360 degree camera
1st Prize: Think Tank Photo Retrospective 20 Black (camera shoulder bag)
2nd Prize: Lowepro Passport Messenger Camera Bag
3rd Prize: Promaster 1600 Monopod
Youth Prize: Zero Gravity X1-HD Drone with built-in HD Camera