Stories From Stanley, Idaho

The Great Sawtooth Migration

Six winters' in Stanley! We count the years by winters around here. The cold white landscape, striking in beauty and majesty, lingers a bit longer in this part of the world.  Surviving a few, one can truly begin to understand what is meant by "cabin fever." But, as each day passes, the sun hangs a little longer in the sky and the biting cold that makes beards grow long and grey, eases its grip and something spectacular is about to happen...

I emerged from the cave this morning, scruffy faced, my coffee cradled between my hands, desperate and in need of some redemption.   The cold air nipped my face, as I began to shrink back to the warm glow of the fire. Just then, I heard prophetic singing in the skies above town.  Looking west, I caught a glimpse of movement.  Gracing the skyline was a pair of Sandhill Cranes.  As I watched them soar into the distance, I listened to the trumpets of a new beginning.  Soon the valley floor and mountain tops will explode with life. The cranes, like much of the wildlife around Stanley, migrate out of the valley and mountains, in pursuit of more suitable winter habitat. As a wildlife photographer, finding subjects can be challenging in the frozen landscape. For the animals that do stay, like my neighbor, the red fox, spring is a welcome visitor; for soon ground squirrels will be on the menu, and a litter of kits will be frolicking in the tall grass outside the den. 


Among the cranes, other varieties of wild avian have arrived, filling the air with the music of spring.  Red wing blackbirds, mergansers, and osprey are among some of the early arrivals.  It's only a matter of days until the swift footed pronghorn make their journey over the mountain passes, into their summer home, the sagebrush hills in the Sawtooth valley.  Badgers emerge from underground lairs, and the stoic great grey owl watches from his perch in the lodgepole pine.  Melting snow floods the valley floor.  Meadows will soon be painted with mules ears, camas, and shooting star.  Sand pipers, ibis, and curlew prepare to nest, hidden in the blossoming carpet.  Awakening from their winter slumber, black bears graze and search for carrion, gifts of winters peril.  The ermine is trading his white winter attire for a subtler summer shade of brown.  And, if you listen carefully, you can almost hear the thunder of hooves; as mule deer and elk begin their annual parade.  Bucks and bulls are shedding their crowns, grazing into the newly revealed mountain slopes. Wolves and mountain lions stalk closely behind.  Soon the rolling sagebrush hills will be dotted with lupine, balsamroot, scarlet gilla, and sego; beckoning humming birds and buzzing bees to aid in their proliferation up the mountain slopes.  The Sawtooths are coming to life.  It's hard to imagine a better time and place to be.  The miracle of Spring is on full display here in Stanley.  With new hope and an eager heart, I await this time each year.

It is also a time to travel the highways with great caution.  Animals are on the move, often crossing roads along the way.  The majority of wildlife is most active in the mornings, evenings, and nights.  It is important to drive slowly and be aware of animals along the roadway.   This will insure everyone arrives in Stanley safe and we have plenty of wild critters to enjoy for the years to come! 




Late April through June provide an opportunity to get a head of the summer crowds and experience these incredible animals below the snowcapped peaks surrounding Stanley.  Don't forget to pack your binoculars and a telephoto lens.  Keep a safe viewing distance to avoid disturbing the animals.  This will increase your chance of observing their natural behaviors.  Grab a brew and sit on the deck at Bridge Street Grill, while watching elk and deer crawl across the mountain.  Book a scenic trip with White Cloud Adventures, and float by blue heron, bald eagles, and river otter, as you brave the wild Salmon river.  The snow is receding so hit the trail and look for the striking Western Tanager; or Idaho's state icon, the Mountain Bluebird. Your adventure is waiting. Visit Stanley this Spring and experience the great migration!

-Adam Gulick



Featured Local Events

DATE: March 2 - 4, 2018

TIME: Multi-times

LOCATION: Park Creek Ski Area, Alturas Lake Ski Area, Community Building, Stanley, ID

March 3rd & 4th, 2018 — Sawtooth Ski Club 16th Annual Ski Festival

  • SATURDAY, March 3rd, Park Creek Ski Area
    Highway 21, 7 miles W. of Stanley
    11am-2pm Homemade Chili & Treats
    Poker Run!!!
    Winning hand called at 1:30 pm
  • SATURDAY EVENING 5:30-8:30pm
    Stanley Community Building
    Dinner Extravaganza
    Incredible Silent Auction, bring your checkbook!
  • SUNDAY, March 4th
    Alturas Lake Ski Area
    Highway 75, 20 miles S. of Stanley
    11am-3pm Soup Kitchen Social
    Great ski trails and a great time!!!

The Sawtooth Ski Club will host the 16th Sawtooth Ski Festival March 3rd and 4th. Come ski, play, feast, dance, shop and socialize, all while supporting Cross Country Skiing in Stanley Sawtooth Country! At 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 3rd at the Park Creek Ski Trails, homemade chili and treats will await eager participants at the annual Poker Run. Donating fun lovers ski or snowshoe a fun course, stopping at stations to collect cards and when the game is called at 1:30, whoever has collected the best poker hand wins a most excellent prize! At 5:30 Saturday evening at the Stanley Community Building, our ski club celebrity chef will present a delicious dinner and at the same time an amazing silent auction will take place. Many local businesses, arts and crafts people and friends of the club donate lovely things, wonderful services, ski and fashion accessories and deliciously fantastic items to the auction. At 11 a.m. on Sunday, March 4th at the Alturas Lake Ski Trails Soup Kitchen Social, enjoy great skiing along with with trailside soup and cookies. All events are donation based, so be sure to bring your check book or cash for the donation jars. The Sawtooth Ski Festival is our only fundraising event of the year. We depend on memberships, donations and Ski Festival proceeds to fund our efforts to provide quality groomed cross country ski trails at Park Creek and Alturas lake. Call Karen Keiski at 208-774-3487 if you wish to volunteer for any of the events or donate to the silent auction. See you at the Festival!


LINK: http://sawtoothskiclub.com/

TEL: 208-774-3487

CONTACT: David or Karen keiski@ruralnetwork.net


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