24hrs in Sun Valley, Backcountry

24hrs in Sun Valley – February – Paddy McIlvoy

In this monthly series, we check in with some of our favorite locals to find out how they would spend a perfect 24 hours in Sun Valley.

February is the time of year when a Sun Valley winter really hits its stride. Not only are snowstorms filling the mountains and turning the streets of Ketchum into a snow globe, but the longer days mean there are more hours to explore the outdoors.

No one knows how to better pack a day full of winter adventures in Sun Valley than Paddy McIlovy, Managing Partner of Backwoods Mountain Sports in Ketchum. Backwoods is “an outdoor shop run by enthusiasts, for enthusiasts,” and it’s a great spot to check in on daily conditions, buy or rent gear, and get stoked for a day in the backcountry.

We caught up with Paddy to see how he would spend a perfect February day in Sun Valley. Here’s what he said.

What would you eat for breakfast?

A muffin, straight out of the oven, from the kitchen at Galena Lodge. They are just so good.

Ok, so a muffin first thing, then what?

Oh no, the muffin isn’t the first thing. It’s a reward! Before breakfast, I’d already have backcountry skied up to a high peak with friends to watch the sunrise. We’d be in the mountains by 5:00 AM, summit around sunrise, then ski down to Galena Lodge to eat.

Ok, wow. An early bird backcountry ski! What’s next?

I’d put on my skate skis and take a quick lap up Rip and Tear (a groomed Nordic trail at Galena Lodge). It’s one of the most fun trails for Nordic we have in the Sun Valley area.

After that, I’d drive south from Galena Lodge and stop in at Backwoods to chat skiing with other skiers who had already been out that morning, or who were heading out in the afternoon. 

If I had some time to spare, I’d go to The Community Library and read a book by the fireplace until lunch. It’s such a great spot, especially now, with their remodel complete.

What would you do for lunch?

I’d meet up with my wife Morgan Buckert for lunch at Perry’s, and order a TBP Special (turkey, bacon, and provolone served hot on sourdough). It’s the quintessential Perry’s sandwich.

How about the afternoon?

In the afternoon, I’d head to the mid-Valley section of the Big Wood River and fish for rainbow trout on dry flies. In February, we start to get the midge hatch, and if it’s sunny, an afternoon on the river is spectacular.

It sounds like a full day! Anything else?

If I still had a few moments left in the day, I’d go climbing at the Wood River Community YMCA.

Where would you have dinner?

This one is easy: CK’s all the way. I’d probably order the Flat Iron Steak.

How would you finish out your perfect day?

I’d hang my boot liners above the woodstove, my ski boots in front of it, and get ready to do it all again the next day.

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