Though officially over the middle mark of winter, come February and March in North Idaho it’s often hard to see an end in sight. Snow starts falling around Thanksgiving, has stacked up by Christmas, and come late January the delight of a fresh blanket of white in the morning has long worn off. In February it’ll start to show flashes of the coming Spring, only to slam the door with a few more weeks of 20 degree weather.
When these winter doldrums hit, I often find myself feverishly filling my flybox, or sifting through photos from the adventures-past, dreaming of the warmer days ahead. Which leads us here, daydreaming by way of a collection of photos spanning several years’ worth of day trips and weekend adventures in the Priest River / Priest Lake area, my adopted home.
Despite the cold, the beauty of living “in the sticks” is that I don’t have to go far for adventure. In fact, while I still get in a couple multi-day backpacking trips every summer, I often find the stuff close to home is just as much fun—and with a baby on the way, all the more practical.
As the higher elevations shed their snow the first good day hikes start to open up. Then once the days get longer and the sun hotter, heading up to Priest Lake for a quick overnight car-camping trip—and maybe a dip in its frigid waters—is common enough.
Later in the summer some of the higher elevation hikes come into shape. If you’re rocking a legitimate high-clearance 4WD vehicle, the Selkirk mountains between Priest Lake and Sandpoint, Idaho offer myriad trails with incredible vistas. Though a word to the wise, don’t try to get your Subaru up some of these roads unless you’ve got good intel on the conditions—often the drive up is the hardest part.
Once on the trail however, rough roads give way to blueberry bushes, epic overlooks, and pristine alpine lakes. And if you time it right you’ll still be able to get home in time for dinner.