Coming Home: Winter in Stanley


Living in a small mountain town is something many can only dream of. Waking up every morning to witness the sun cast across the Sawtooths Mountains is an immeasurable blessing. However, as the years go by, its become easy to take for granted life in the heart of the Idaho wilderness. It is not until one travels from home that he once again longs for the presence of the mountains.

Incredible lake view of the mountains in Stanley, ID | Stanley Chambers

I had spent most of November chasing moose around the fog and golden tamarack of the Northern Idaho Panhandle. A month of fighting traffic, drowned in the rain and the reminders of life on the outside, it was time to return home. With the visions of snow capped mountains dancing in my head, the old truck eagerly scooted up the winding pavement of highway 75, perhaps just as lonely for the mountains as I. The icy waters of the Salmon river carried the waters from the mountains. I was almost home.

Animals through the fog Stanley, ID | Stanley Chambers

It's a moment that never grows old. Coming around that last bend in the road, where the Sawtooth Mountains emerge in all their grandeur. I pulled over at the top of the hill above Lower Stanley. A sense of calm rolled over me. Aside from a dusting on the mountains, winter had yet to arrive, but a storm is on the horizon. The mountains are about to transform. The granite peaks would soon be cast in white and the valley, will drift in with snow. Hiking boots will migrate to the back of the closet, as snowshoes and ski boots wait by the door. The sun dipped behind the earth and the mountains I had longed to be reacquainted with faded into the night sky.

Colorful sky along the River bank Stanley, ID | Stanley Chambers

Thanksgiving came the next day. We gathered for our annual feast as the storm rolled into the valley. It was a time for gratitude..for family, for friends, and for a joyful life in this small mountain town. For our bellies full, laughter in the air and hearts hardened by the night we lay to rest as the storm drifted in our doorsteps. By morning a fresh blanket of snow covered the town. Soon the ski trails at park creek will be groomed, skates will be carving up the ice and snowmobile will become the primary source of transportation. For the adventurer and the dreamer the mountains are a place of mystery in the winter. There is a lot to look forward to in town. See the list of events here>

Calm waters on the lake in Stanley, ID | Stanley Chambers

As the storm broke by late afternoon, I took my camera for a walk behind the house. Overnight, a new landscape was born. Valley creek meandered through the basin, an otter frolicked along the bank, the sun set behind the mountains and the sky filled with color. A flock of geese graced the horizon, southbound. I stood beneath those peaks frozen in reverence, the wind nipped at my ears, and I was filled with a feeling of celebration. It's winter in Stanley!

Colorful sky overlooking the rivers edge Stanley, ID | Stanley Chambers

Blog and Photography by Adam Gulick