Fourth of July on Boise Ridge

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July 4, 2017

Four guys in a Jeep drove up a hill and nothing got broke.

Casual day
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Casual day
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“I think we’ll let this be a boys’ trip,” Jessica says while slipping out the door to the patio where Kayla is already sitting with morning mimosa in hand.

I suggested a Jeep loop across the Boise Ridge to occupy the few hours before our Fourth of July barbecue with Nick and Kayla. I guess if the ladies don’t want to go then we have room to invite Hunter and Thornton, if they’re willing to leave the Xbox for that long.

“Do you guys want to take a Jeep ride up the ridge?” I call through Hunter’s closed door. I’m pleasantly surprised when I hear a “yeah” emerge from a moment of mumbling.

Regular updates
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Regular updates
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“Have you been on the Boise Ridge Road?” I ask Thornton.

“I don’t think so,” he answers.

Exploring all the area roads was a typical way to pass the days growing up in the Idaho countryside. It shouldn’t surprise me anymore but it still does when I hear from Boiseans who haven’t visited the forested ridge above town. I enjoy getting to show it to them for the first time.

At the helm
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Nick had mentioned taking a turn at the wheel when we drove to Silver City¹ so I offer him the helm after our first stop. He doesn’t hesitate.

“Can I drive too?” Hunter asks.

“No, sorry Hunter,” I answer. “You need a little experience for these roads.”

“You let Brenna drive,” he points out.

“That was in the desert,” I explain. “You can go off the road there and it doesn’t matter.”

I hope he knows that’s true. I worry he might feel excluded. I’d love to let him drive but this just isn’t the place for an unlicensed, almost zero-experience driver. It seems about every year or two someone drives off the road and dies up here. Our ladies would be mad if I let that happen.

  1. Trail Image, “Third Pole in Silver City” (May 27, 2017): trailimage.com/third-pole-in-silver-city
Thornton
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Thornton
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Hearing Thornton talk about the old Volkswagen bus he’s fixing up reminds me a lot of my high school classmate James Aiken. Riding around with James all those years ago left me with sympathy for bus enthusiasts.

“You could probably drive your bus up here,” I suggest.

Thornton laughs.

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“Is this where there was a tree across the road?” Hunter asks as we round a bend to a straight stretch between trees.

“Yeah, I think so,” I tell him. It’s funny what he remembers. That was just a quick drive five years ago, the first in the Jeep.¹ But what he did with that geometry homework from yesterday can be a complete mystery.

It isn’t the first ridge recollection he’s shared today. The vagaries of childhood memory seem to imbue some events with mythic qualities, like looming outlines in the fog. I’m glad to hear the bit of reverence he has for our experiences.

  1. Trail Image, “Spring Picnic on Boise Ridge” (May 6, 2012): trailimage.com/spring-picnic-on-boise-ridge
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Hunter and Thornton have both taken their shirts off and are standing on the running boards outside the Jeep as we drive, grabbing at leaves and branches to throw at each other while posting on social media. Nick veers to swipe occasional light brush, ensuring they get the full experience.

“Good thing my mom’s not here,” Hunter says. “She wouldn’t let us do this.”

Jessica is more cautious, it’s true, but Hunter may not realize how typical it was for us as kids to ride in the open air in the back of a truck, crazy-coast our bikes down hills with no helmets, and to generally assume we were on our own for whatever injuries we sustained.

Leading lines
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Leading lines
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Guys on rocks
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Guys on rocks
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“Your mom and I stood on these rocks before you were born,” I tell Hunter at a little outcrop along the road not far below the ski hills.¹ If he’s impressed, he keeps it to himself.

  1. Trail Image, “Bogus Ski Trails” (June 27, 1997): trailimage.com/bogus-ski-trails
Drainage
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Firecracker
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Since Hunter is reminiscing, I point Nick in the direction of a campsite we’ve used a couple times¹ that I took to calling “Hunter’s Knoll” since it was him and I who camped there first.

  1. Trail Image, “Overnight on Hunter’s Knoll” (May 3, 2015): trailimage.com/overnight-on-hunters-knoll
Ridge road
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Ridge road
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Bent tree
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We make a last stop to stand in the breeze before we join Bogus Basin Road and descend back to the heat in town.

“This is my favorite part of the ridge,” I tell Nick as part of my ongoing narration. It affords distant views, north and south, and is often filled with butterflies and wildflowers of every shape and color.

Captain
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“That’s really fun,” Nick says of his time driving the Jeep.

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Bogus road
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Bogus road
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We opted for a couple small, rutted diversions in the Jeep but a passenger car could drive the same loop without trouble. Everyone in Boise should get out for the expanded perspective.