Breeding Rad: Backcountry Exploration and Frontcountry Soul in Idaho

The canyon tightens driving north. Snow begins to fall from low gray skies. On my left, rusted-out boxcars and metal-cut sasquatch caricatures announce my deliverance into the way back of Idaho until, finally, towering pines lock everything in. On the right, a river. Cliffs rise directly out of the water like molars, like a lower jawbone decaying in some forgotten patch of dirt.

Trucks outnumber cars 10 to one. Even Google Maps shows my progress via a little green pickup icon. The frost-heaved two-laner finally crosses an arched concrete span and leaves the water’s edge. Snow starts to stick to the road. A plow passes in the other direction, clearing a strip of lonely tread from a blanketed plateau. Signs for Sno-Parks are here and there. Beyond that, dormant farmland. It’s the kind of place where the few folks around all own a snow blower and a snow machine. Half-ton 4×4 required. 

A crew of riders awaits me a few hours into the void: Curtis Ciszek, Eric Jackson, Mary Rand and Austin Smith. With them are Alex Pashley and Connor Winton, posted up in a lonely abode, working on a throttle-assisted snowboard film. Word is Curt already smashed a stump and broke his machine, necessitating a long drive into town…

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