Throughout the month of December and now into January, we’d like to share some of the Salsa Crew's and our sponsored riders' favorite moments from 2015. By all accounts, it was a great year!
It was early evening when we finally topped the climb out. Scott and Denny reached the crest first and stopped immediately. I could see them staring into the distance, and when I reached their stance, I stopped in my tracks. Ants Basin in the Boulder-Whitecloud Mountains stretched out before us, the evening light illuminating the surrounding peaks and mountains as far as we could see. When Alexis reached the edge, she took one look and dropped her bike.
We would be some of the last mountain bikers to see this view before we continued on down the trail into the basin.
On July 27 of this year, the House of Representatives passed the Sawtooth National Recreation and Jerry Peak Wilderness Addition Act. This new designation of Wilderness includes the Boulder-Whiteclouds Mountains north of Ketchum. The area had been used and maintained by mountain bikers as the crown jewel of backcountry riding in the area and was now being taken away.
At the time, we didn’t know when the law would take effect, or when it would be enforced, but we knew we had to get out and see the area before any of those things happened. Scott and I roped our friends Alexis and Denny into a short bikepacking trip around a portion the Adventure Cycling Association Idaho Hotsprings Loop. The main goal was to see the Boulder-Whiteclouds.
We’d spent the day in a combination of awe and frustration. Much of the early part of the day was spent pushing our bikes up impossibly steep trail until we reached the regularly used sections.
A grueling start and hike-a-bike ...
There, under the watch of Castle Peak, we frolicked in the high lakes, marveled at the view, and enjoyed the smooth riding.
Castle Peak ...
We’d been told that Ants Basin would take our breath away.
A hefty, worthwhile climb ...
We stood there in silence for a few minutes, knowing that while this land would be protected in the future under the Wilderness designation, it would also be closed to the user group that potentially appreciated it most. Knowing that we’d never have the chance to ride bikes up there again forced an attentiveness to the moment, accepting a fact that applies to every moment in life—this will never happen again.
Down into Ants Basin ...
The four of us descended a series of switchbacks into the basin, forgoing our original camping plans farther down the trail. Right here, we decided. Here, in the shadow of these amazing mountains where no bikepacker will ever get the chance to camp again.
Stunning view from camp ...
We relished everything about the moment—the feeling after a big day of riding bikes, camping in a beautifully stunning location, good friends, and the gratitude that we were able to visit this special place with bikes before it was closed to tire tracks for good.
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When Eszter Horanyi was in second grade, living in Tucson, Ariz., her dad bought the entire family Schwinn mountain bikes; she’s been riding ever since, dabbling in racing disciplines from road, to cross, to track and mountain biking. Most recently she’s loving adventurous long rides, bikepacking and exploring the world from two wheels. zenondirt.wordpress.com