Best Laid Plans


"The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry…" -Robert Burns, To a Mouse

"I love it when a plan comes together." -Hannibal, The A Team

Possibly the most important quality to possess in Stanley is flexibility. I look ahead at my day, the week, or the month and I formulate an idea of my preference for what will transpire. Usually within the first hour any number of things have occurred that require reassessment. Stanley is a crossroads for people travelling throughout southern and eastern Idaho and alot of folks pass through. One of the most common reasons for a change of plans is someone special stopping by unexpectedly. Especially in the quieter seasons, this is a valid reason to stop everything and embrace the opportunity to connect. Our days often get derailed by someone needing something. Maybe a cow has its hoof stuck in a cattle guard and The Resident Mountain Man has to load up his welding gear and cut her loose. Or a friend slid off the slick roads and needs to be pulled out. Strangers drop by because they've heard Woolley's is the place to find any part or tool you need. You know that sooner or later the shoe will be on the other foot, and a neighbor will be putting their schedule on hold to help you. Ma Nature is the dominant player in our lives, and often a natural event interferes with what we thought we had in mind. Little Bit (the Kid) has a classmate who planned on attending school regularly, but has instead been trapped between avalanches for several weeks. Morning Yoga gets traded for all day snow shoveling on a pitched roof. Tonight, we've got 8 snow-mobilers staying with us who plan to leave tomorrow, but all three ways out of Stanley are closed. Leading to the other key necessity of Stanley life: accepting that ultimately us wee humans are not in charge of much. You can Google eight different weather sites looking for a forecast you like better, but you're not going to get to an airport If the Boss Lady (Ma Nature) says otherwise. Now "playing it by ear" is right up my alley, but surrendering the illusion of control is a bit more of a stretch. And I know I'm not alone in this struggle. Wherever you go, eventually you have to face reality on its own terms. You can live or visit places where this core reality is easier to avoid, but you'd miss out on the authenticity of accepting the essence of existence in raw form. Here in Stanley our primary elements are Nature, Community, Family, and Self. There's a gritty sense of what-you-see-is-what-you-get. This community planned on a variety of winter events, several of which have been cancelled or postponed. Due to road and snow conditions, the Stanley Sled Dog Rendezvous will not be held this winter, a disappointment to the racers and spectators who have enjoyed this event each year. Things were looking grim for Winterfest 2017, but the clouds parted and our heroic highway crews kept Galena Summit open. A hardy crowd of revelers turned out, and this event was a great success. Sometimes, a plan does come together. Speaking of making plans, right now there is a smorgasbord of opportunity to get involved in Forest Service planning efforts in the Stanley area. What does that mean? The US Forest Service is required to manage forests according to a Forest Plan, an all inclusive document the agency uses to guide decisions and regulate uses. These plans feature three main elements that lead to each other in a perpetual cycle: Assessing, Planning, and Monitoring. On the forest as in life, a solid plan is a good start, but success requires the flexibility to take in new information, respond appropriately to shifting conditions, and adapt your plan to accept an ever-changing reality. In 2012, a new Planning Rule was established to direct the process for creating Forest Plans. It ensures that stakeholders come to the table early, providing input starting in the initial stages of plan development. Ideally, this shift in process may head off costly and time consuming legal action down the road. To the north, the Salmon-Challis National Forest is embarking a multi-tiered planning journey. In the big picture, the Salmon-Challis is in the first months of revising the Forest Plan. This effort is slated to take several years. Salmon Valley Stewardship is taking a leading collaborative role in coordinating pubic participation. For more info, visit: In 2015, three new contiguous Wilderness Areas were created in Central Idaho. The Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness and the White Cloud Wilderness are located in the Sawtooth National Forest, and the Jim McClure-Jerry Peak Wilderness is in the Salmon-Challis National Forest. Altogether, they encompass over 275,000 acres of wild high country. Here you will find alpine lakes, free flowing waterways, abundant wildlife, snowcapped mountains, and sweeping sagebrush vistas, with little human impacts. Concurrent with the hefty Forest Plan Revision, the Salmon-Challis is also building a plan for the newly designated Jim McClure-Jerry Peak Wilderness ( You can learn more about the legacy of Jim McCLure and his wife Louise here: The Sawtooth National Forest is also in the thick of the Wilderness Management planning process, working towards a guiding document that will protect the natural assets and also provide for sustainable resource use and responsible recreation. If any of these values are near and dear to your heart, now is a great time to be a part of the solution. For more information, visit:

A picture taken at Jerry Peak | Stanley Chamber

As a stakeholder, my next opportunity to participate is on Tuesday, February 21st, in Challis. I plan to attend, but with Highway 75 closed, the trip to Challis will be a five hour journey over two mountain passes instead of a 57 mile jaunt downriver. Or maybe all ways out will be closed. Or maybe all roads out will be open. I will continue to monitor the situation, assess new information, and adapt my plan as necessary. I continue to be grateful to make my home in a place that keeps me ever honest, keenly aware of my humble role in the larger workings of existence. And because I am just a wee human, I'm signing off now to check weather sites until I find a forecast I like... -Alison French Steen