As I pulled out of SLC on Friday night, the second week
of October, in route to ski the Bruneau Sand Dunes in southwestern
Idaho, I wondered what I had gotten myself into. Friends of mine
had raved about it for years and decided it was mine turn to
surf the sand.
I arrived at the campground about four hours later, and
was greeted by several Utards. No more than fifteen minutes had
passed before I was fed a shot of Edgars ginger vodka.
Hell of a way to start the weekend.
Saturday morning greeted us with temps in the 20s
and a clear sky. After breakfast, it was off to ski the dunes.
Forgot your skins you say? No worries, you dont need them.
As we ascended the shoulder to get to the main ridge, I
was amazed at the many slopes and possibilities that were presented
before us. I was back on skis and I was a happy man. Several
of the veteran duners lead us to the goods. The goods meaning
the longest line. We found ourselves at the top of 400 ft run
(provided you stayed in the fall line).
On the first run of my sand skiing experience, I got worked.
I made three or four turns and whoa, over the bars. My first
sand header! I then decided to parallel for the next two runs
to get the feel of the sand. I found it best to ski with a neutral
body position and balance point. Fortunately, my first header
was my last. I was starting to get the hang of this.
A ritual at the sand dunes is to climb and ski a
vertical mile. This consisted of a dozen laps on the main slope
and a climb back to the cars. After a long day, some had 12,
some more, and others less. It was a successful day.
After a great day of skiing, it was time to test the solar
showers. Even later in the evening I was able to get hot water
to wash off all the sand that found itself into the strangest
places. This place was a winner!
After dinner (and a few more shots of ginger vodka), it
was off to the astrological observatory located in the park to
get educated about telescopes, stars, and moons by some fine
star nerds. After a short and informative briefing, guests are
welcome to view parts of the night sky through telescopes of
varying strengths and sizes. Needless to say, I felt very small
Back at camp (after our fill of astronomy), it was time
to initiate the first time sand skiers. Without giving away tradition
completely, I will let you in on a few key components: booze,
a fire, jumping, and sudden flame(not necessarily in that order).
If you want to know more, mark your calendars for next Oct.
On the final day, we woke to the same weather as the previous
morning. It was coooooold and clear. Since most folks put in
a big effort on Sat., we decided to ski a pitch with a little
less of an approach. We still managed to climb seven laps worth
before making our way back to the cars. From the top of the slope
we could see others from our group giving sand kiting a try across
on the flats.
The final icing on the cake was stopping in Glenns Ferry
and seeking out a local winery and restaurant. After sampling
the local flavors and grabbing a late lunch , it was time to
head back to the land of Zion. I will remember this trip for
many things and many moons to come.
In short, the Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park is like no
other. Excellent camping (a wooden shelter for each site), solar
showers, an observatory, and great dunes of sand to slide and
glide on welcoming the start of the winter season.
On the tech side of things, I found fat skis (Voile Mt.
Surfs ) worked great and that gaitors were essential. I was able
to ski in shorts and a polypro t-shirt both days. Bike gloves
proved to be important as well.