Picture this: It’s a gorgeous Boise morning. You hop on your mountain bike and crank up Hulls Gulch. Gasping, you ignore your burning lungs, because you know there’s a reward at the top of the singletrack: a 24-ounce Caramel Waffle Cone Crème Frappuccino served by a smiling Starbucks barista.
Is the Chick-fil-A vendor at her usual spot at the top of Bob’s Trail, too? I forgot to bring a PowerBar. Chicken nuggets sound so awesome right now.
This is the sort of Bizarro Boise universe made imaginable by an Idaho Statesman article this week (“A man, his mule and a dream of trailside coffee”). The tale chronicled the plight of Matt Bishop, 34, a recent Boise transplant who wants to sell mule-side coffee on “remote” Foothills trails. Last weekend, he poured free drinks for interested hikers, runners and bikers after being turned down for a vending permit by the Bureau of Land Management.
Trail users who ran into Cafè Mulè called the caffeine oasis “too good to be true” and “brilliant.”
How about “awful for Boise”?
That’s harsh. I know. At first glance, I understand why it’s easy to support Cafè Mulè. Part of Bishop’s mission is to lure Idahoans to trails that they might not otherwise use. That’s a well-intentioned, even noble, concept. He seems like a nice guy.
But portraying Cafè Mulè as a quaint blip on the trail map is shortsighted. Sometimes neat ideas are bad ideas. I don’t want this creative entrepreneur loading up his pack animal, hauling in supplies, then doing his best Juan Valdez imitation on our trails. There’s too much at stake here. Vending of any type sets a frightening precedent.
Let’s jog over to the Apple boulder kiosk at the bottom of Hard Guy trail. I need to charge my iPhone.
Wake up and smell the coffee. Isn’t part of what makes the Foothills so great is that it’s like hiking in the wilderness — yet actually super-close to home? Why do we want the luxuries of city life in the Foothills? Go visit the food court at Boise Towne Square.
There’s probably subconscious ego at play. It would feel good to beat a major Northwest city at its own cultural trend. Espresso flowing on Boise’s trails? Top that, stupid Seattle java snobs.
It’s also natural to react defensively to the bean counters at the Bureau of Land Management. This is the same arguably misguided agency trying to keep bathers out of Skinny Dipper Hot Springs. Thank you, BLM, for wisely frustrating Richard the Mule like you have so many other Idahoans. This time, you’re actually protecting us from ourselves.
Bishop says Cafè Mulè also would work on U.S. Forest Service trails, which is where he conducted last week’s free trailside coffee service. But the Forest Service says it would take at least three years before any vending proposal could be addressed. (Wow, that’s an impressive cop-out, even for a government agency.)
Undeterred, Bishop and his mule plan to create more buzz by conducting another Foothills freebie Saturday at a site announced online. (Check cafemule.com, “Cafè Mulè ” on Facebook or @richardthemule on Instagram).
There’s a food-truck rally over at Corrals trail today? Sweet. Maybe I can get my CamelBak growler filled with beer.
In the meantime, here’s a thought: If you crave coffee in the Foothills, you can always take a Thermos.
Better yet, scoop a cup of mud from a creek bed before it dries up — like so many other opportunities to enjoy untainted, uncommercialized wilderness.
Payette Brewing opens, cranks live music
Payette Brewing Company’s new Boise taproom officially opened June 1 at 733 S. Pioneer St. in Boise.
No more temporary closures. It’s now operating daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Go have a beer.
Live music will fill the beer garden Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays this summer. You’ll find details about times and performers weekly in the Idaho Statesman’s Nightlife listings.
Willie Nelson returns
If you missed Willie Nelson during his last couple of visits — 2013 at Outlaw Field and 2015 at Ford Idaho Center Amphitheater (with Alison Krauss) — you’ve got another chance.
The Red Headed Stranger will return to Outlaw Field for a concert July 26. Don McClean will be the opening act.
Tickets go on sale June 10 for $65 at Ticketmaster.