When Dad and I made plans for me to come to Idaho for the first time in June 1988, he told me to get in shape because we were going to do a lot of hiking of the trails and sights around McCall, Idaho. I prepared by taking a lot of walks with my dogs Heidi and Andrew along the bike trail near our house in Rhode Island and biked it to my coaching job with the local little league for practices.
A couple of days after my arrival in Idaho with Dad, the day came to conquer Brundage Peak. Brundage Mountain and Peak are the big mountain chain outside of McCall. Brundage Mountain has a popular ski resort that caters to locals and ski nuts from Boise and points beyond every Winter.
Early in the morning with backpacks on the back and Tyler the dog in tow, off Dad and I went up the trail near his house to Brundage Peak. Dad and I passed Bear Basin first. Bear Basin is a big open area that is popular for the local lumberjacks every fall for woodcutting, and it is also a haven for the bears who frequent the area every summer. Dad and I didn't have any close encounters with Yogi and Boo Boo, but that was for the better. All Mom needed was a phone call from the Valley County Sheriff saying we were mauled by hungry bears in the Idaho woods!
The trail to Brundage is lined with Ponderossa Pine trees. They are huge pine trees with a distinctive vanilla scent. How do I know about this? Dad had me sniffing one of the trees on our first rest break, and I got some of that sap on my butt from sitting under the tree afterwards.
Sticky butt and all, Dad and I started up again up the trail to Brundage Peak. Tyler was running all over the place chasing bugs and jumping in the little ponds that lined the road to cool off. We also saw a deer run across the path, and Tyler had to give chase to Bambi for entertainment.
After a 3-hour and 10-mile hike up a narrow dirt trail, Dad and I made it to the top of Brundage Peak. There is an observation deck along with a Forest Service building at the peak, and Dad and I had our lunch among some great views. From one side of the Peak, you can see The Seven Devils Mountains, which is a chain of seven peaks that look like, duh, devil horns. You can see McCall from here along with other great sights.
After about an hour of resting and picture taking, Dad and I headed back down the trail back home. About halfway down, a man on his bike was coming in the opposite direction and asked Dad how the trail was. It was his first time, and Dad told him it was a steep climb, but the guy said he would give it a shot to get to the Peak. A while later, the man came flying down the hill saying it was too much for him to climb.
About 8 hours after starting this trip, our sweaty, sticky, and sunburned bodies made it home to Dad's little cabin. I had a bad knee at the time and wore a huge knee brace. My leg resembled a candy cane for the rest of the summer because my lower leg and thigh were tanned while the part the brace covered was white! People would get a good chuckle at my knee brace tan, but it was a badge of honor to me. Not many 21-year-old women get to hike up a mountain in their lifetime, and I was proud to have accomplished this.
The trail to Brundage Mountain is located off of Highway 55 about 3 miles outside of McCall on the right-hand side. There is a parking lot that is very safe for your car. In the summer time, this trail is great for hiking, but I wouldn't go in the fall when hunting season is in full swing, and there are a bunch of crazy drunken rednecks with guns hunting for Bambi (a very scary thought indeed!).
In wintertime, the trails are accessible by snowmobile, and there are several snowmobiling competitions throughout the winter. Make sure you are dressed for the season and wear good strong hiking boots or sneakers, bring tons of water, and a light lunch. Sunblock is also a plus, or you will fry. A hike up to Brundage Peak is about 20 miles round trip and worth a full day of your time!