Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Stanley and Ketchum, Idaho - Sawtooth Relay

One of my favorite places in Idaho is the Sawtooth National Forest between Stanley and Ketchum, where the Salmon River flows through peaceful, rolling farm fields and the jagged Sawtooth Mountains pierce the sky to the west.  Despite the incredible beauty of the area with its snow capped peaks and alpine lakes, it retains a quiet, relaxed atmosphere free of the crowds that can be found in nearby places like the Tetons and Yellowstone.

Sawtooth Mountains near Stanley, Idaho

Keith suggested that we run the Sawtooth Relay on June 14 and despite having only four interested runners instead of the typical six for the relay, we entered the race and decided to spend a few extra days in the area to camp and hike.  Keith, Melissa, and I headed up to Ketchum on Friday afternoon and set up camp for the first two nights at North Fork along the banks of the Big Wood River.  Our fourth teammate, Lindsay, met up with us later on Friday evening.

Melissa and Keith

Sunset at camp

On Saturday morning, we drove north to Stanley for the start of the relay race.  The race traveled along Highway 75 for 62 miles and finished in Ketchum, not far from our camp site.  Our team was assigned a very late start time and we passed dozens of runners along the way to Stanley.  We began to worry that we'd be the very last team on the course but were relieved the find several teams starting with us and after us at the start line.  While most teams had six runners to cover the 62 miles, we only had four and this meant we'd each run three legs of several miles each.

Sawtooth Relay start line in Stanley, Idaho

Our Team - "Stoli Would Not Be Pleased"!

The scenery along the course the absolutely spectacular and the weather was perfect with a few clouds, no rain or snow, and comfortable running temperatures.  The other teams and volunteers were a lot of fun and everyone was nice and friendly.  It felt like the Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back, without the overnight runs and the excessively long periods of time sitting in a van.  The miles passed by and we had a blast cheering each other on, running hard but not taking anything too seriously and enjoying a few beers along the way. Eventually we reached Ketchum and the fun after-party where lots of food and beer were waiting for us.  We were shocked to learn that our team came in 20th overall and 5th in the coed division with a total time of just under 8 hours.





Celebrating back at camp

On Sunday, we packed up camp and headed north to Stanley where we planned to camp for a couple more nights and do some hikes in the Sawtooths.  After setting up camp, we did a short hike around Redfish Lake before heading to the lodge for an outdoor concert.  Unfortunately, the weather went downhill and a torrential rainstorm hit, forcing us indoors to the bar which offered spectacular views of the storm and the lake.  Eventually the storm cleared and the sun came out, making for some great views of the Sawtooths.

Keith and Melissa at Redfish Lake

Redfish Lake Lodge

 At Redfish Lake

 Keith at Redfish Lake

 Redfish Lake

Sawtooths after the storm

We awoke on Monday morning to the sound of rain on the tent, and the downpour continued throughout the morning with colder temperatures and fog.  It became apparent that we weren't going to be able to hike, even if the weather cleared, because the snow level had come down to the valley floor.  We headed over to Stanley and had a wonderful breakfast with hot coffee at the Stanley Baking Company before packing up camp and heading back to Salt Lake a day early.  The mountain pass that we had run over a couple days earlier was covered with snow and we were thankful we had such a great day for running the Sawtooth Relay!