Winter activities in Utah and Idaho

Winter activities in Utah and IdahoThis year’s Outdoor Retailer Winter Market was all about fun winter activities in Utah and Idaho for me.

Everyone thinks that the OR Show is just a grind of work meetings, gear demos, and long conversations about technical specs for the newest gear and products coming to market in the outdoor world.

OK, no one thinks that.

The OR Winter Market is really just a great excuse for outdoor industry folks, brand people and bloggers alike, to meet over drinks and partake in winter activities.  Sure, it can be the setting for many to geek out on the gear that’s ready for market.  But it’s really about winter fun with the friends you make in the industry and there’s always frosty drinks and delicious food in there somewhere.

This year’s Winter Market was no exception

I made my way to Salt Lake City with Dave Creech, the blogger known as Wilderness Dave.  We plotted our campaign to take over the outdoor world on the drive to the show that Thursday.

An hour into the 6 hour drive, Matt from Geigerrig called to say that the morning ice storm in SLC produced more than 150 auto accidents.  We carefully made our way to the hotel and checked in just before midnight without incident.

Friday was filled with meetings, mostly with PR reps that brought us up to speed on their client’s latest and greatest.  There are tons of posts covering all the new gear and latest innovations.  Here’s one from Melissa, our Sherpa at that focuses on the best of kids gear from the show.

The gear and the brand stories that inspire the innovations will be shared in the coming weeks here on Trail Sherpa.  This trip, and this post, are really more defined by the people and the things we were doing.

The highlights of the trip included a 2 hour laugh fest with #MrCody, great food and conversation everyday, and an amazing outdoor backdrop, a near miss, and most importantly a group of people that just really know how to enjoy the moment.

But like the title suggests, this OR Show was about winter activities for me.

Saturday was all about snowshoeing

Winter activities in Utah and Idaho

Our “ambassadors of awesome” on Saturday were Teton Sports, Tubbs Snowshoes, and Hydroflask.  Shawn runs the blogger outreach for Teton Sports, though I am sure his duties go well beyond that.  He pulled a group of outdoor bloggers together for a snowshoeing adventure just outside Salt Lake City.

I had never strapped on a pair of snowshoes before but it was on a list of things that I wanted to experience this year.  Sarah was there representing Tubbs Snowshoes and she was very helpful for the few of us that were embarking on our first snow shoe adventure.

Sarah’s advice  to me was this “You’re as good as you’ll ever be on snowshoes in the first ten steps…so don’t sweat it.”

She was right.  There was the occasional scrape as one shoe crossed the other.  Or the time I tried to pivot forgetting that I had snowshoes attached.

But at the end of the day I can say that I loved every minute of the snowshoeing trip and will certainly rank it as one of my favorite winter activities.

Thanks to Shawn, Sarah and Kristen (from Hydroflask) for the gear, the demos, and the good times on the trail!

Sunday was moving day – Here we come Idaho!

Winter activities in Idaho

It was my first time to Idaho and it certainly didn’t disappoint.  Our friends at Geigerrig had organized a post-show trip to a cabin for some snowshoeing and snow machining that proved to be nothing short of epic.

Matt circled the city early Sunday morning, stopping at each hotel to pick up the Trail Sherpa crew which included Dave, Erika, Heather, and Kristie.

We hit the road with light flurries but that was just the beginning.  The 4 hour drive took more than 8 hours and at times the snow was coming down so hard that visibility was piss poor at best.

We arrived at the cabin the fresh powder was already knee high and accumulating.  Monday would be awesome!

Another new winter activity to check off the list

I hadn’t been on a snowmobile since I was a young teenager in PA.  But Matt and the Geigerrig crew had 4 snow machines delivered to the cabin and Monday morning we set out.

The mountains that surround the cabin in Island Park, ID are not small.  Not even close.  And with a few feet of fresh powder, Monday was poised to deliver an epic experience.

Zach joined those of us that decided to take the machines out that morning.  He is owner of the snow machines and the company that rents them.  He had promised us the night before that he would lead a tour to the top of one of the nearby mountains.

Winter activities in Utah and Idaho

We shot off through the cabin community and down onto the flats that parallel the main road.  He took us across the road and down a straight away that allowed us to really open up the machines.  Lightening!

Maybe not lightening but fast enough that you can appreciate the power of the machine.  We were easily going 70-80 mph.

The trail curved from one side to the other and we made our way into the treeline at the base of the mountain.  It was rough at first.  Dave got stuck.  We dug him out.  I made it through the ditch he left and immediately clipped a log on the left side of the trail that surgically removed the windshield.  Awesome stuff.

The trail emerged from the trees as we made our way up the mountainside and the powder got progressively deeper it seemed.  The views were awesome.

I thought the riding would be easier with more room to maneuver but fresh powder is difficult to adjust to for a beginner.  We had a section on the hill that took an hour and half to cover not more than a few hundred yards.

Drive 20 yards.  Get stuck.  Dig out.  Repeat.

It was painful but I couldn’t imagine doing it any different for my first ride in more than 20 years.

We made our way to the top and the views were simply amazing.  The light was perfect and the skies cleared a bit.

Thanks to Geigerrig & Teton Sports

Both of these brands know how to enjoy the outdoors.  Thanks for introducing me to a few new winter activities and for supporting what we’re doing here at Trail Sherpa.  We’re already looking forward to some summer fun!

Tip: If you are interested in a cabin rental in Island Park or West Yellowstone, you need to consider the cabin we stayed in.  Spacious and big enough for a few families.

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I'm the founder of Vestor Logic, the digital strategy and web design firm that created Trail Sherpa, ParksFolio, and Modern Steader. I'm a day hiker, top chef in camp, doting husband, and father to two headlamp wearing boys. My work in digital media brings those experiences to life.