Living the dream is a phrase which we hear frequently, but truly experience rarely. Yet the stars aligned and here I am, the summer intern, in mountain paradise. For the next four weeks I am going to be giving you the first person, no holds barred experience of getting to know Sun Valley.
For those of you who haven’t met me, which I would imagine is most of you, my name is Asa Redfield. On June 15th I pulled into Sun Valley riding my golden steed of a car with minimal knowledge of the area or even the state of Idaho. I’m here answer an ad for a summer internship on behalf of an online-marketing role with a local start-up called PlayHard GiveBack whose mission is, you guessed it, to help others keep playing hard while simultaneously giving back. It’s a pretty rad company and you can check more of them out here: Play Hard Give Back.
So basically it’s been just over two weeks now that I’ve been living here in Sun Valley. Definitely still not “local” status, but I’m at the point now that my friends and family members are starting to call me up wondering, “where are you?!” and “what are you doing in Idaho?!” I have to admit I’m not the best at keeping people updated on what I’m up to, but at least I informed my mom! So perhaps this blog will be my weekly letter home from what is looking like the best summer ever! Anyways, so far I’ve been absolutely blown away by this community and the area which I get to call home fro the coming weeks.
As a born-and-raised Seattleite, I’m used to around a 1-hour car ride to access the type of terrain and activities that we can get to within 5-10 minutes via human-powered bike right here in Sun Valley. These guys have got it good!
What have I done since I’ve been here? First and foremost, I’ve been mountain biking a whole lot. My inaugural ride up into the White Clouds was a bit of a reality check; gasping for oxygen, I quickly learned that I was no longer at sea-level. After acclimatizing, I’ve been alright though. With trail access so nearby, it’s easy to get a solid ride in over lunch break and I’ve definitely taken full advantage of that. The coolest ride I’ve done so far, has been the Fox Creek Trail with PHGB’s founder Spencer Brendel and several other SV locals. From aerobic climbs, to creek crossings, to colorful wild flowers, to recently burnt forests, to fast flowing berms, the Fox Creek ride completely redefined mountain biking for me. They say that there is well over 400 miles of mountain biking trails in the Sun Valley area so I’m amped to see what else I can get myself into on two wheels.
After accidentally riding up the designated hiking trail to the top of Bald Mountain (aka ‘Baldy’), I realized that there aren’t just mountain bikers here. Almost every bike trail seems to also be open to hikers so you really have no excuse to not get outside. Not to mention, you can cast out into any of the various river networks here and you’ll more than likely be fishing in a world-class location. Although my fishing experience thus far is limited to a few quick fly fishing outings on the Big Wood River, I’m stoked to get out there again with some friends and spend a day on the river.
Over this past weekend, the entire town (no, seriously the entire town) got behind the 4th Annual Ride Sun Valley Bike Festival. Streets and businesses, alike, closed as everyone congregated either in the town square or at the race finish lines. Even the World Cup was pushed out of my mind during the festivities, and that’s coming from a big time soccer fan! Essentially mountain bikers from all over the United States make the annual pilgrimage to Sun Valley to ride the highly renowned trails and experience the unique vibe of the area. Fortunately PlayHard GiveBack was one of the primary sponsors of the event so my “work” mostly surrounded promoting at the various happenings throughout the weekend. From the singletrack enduro races to the pump track competition, I now understand why I’m not a Pro. Although I’m not bad, the riders competing in Ride Sun Valley were on a whole other level. Overall, the festival was a hoot! With live music, top tier mountain bikers, tons of giveaways, and great beer from nearby breweries it was the highlight of my valley experience thus far.
Speaking of good beer and as someone who is freshly of legal drinking age, I’m somewhat of a bar connoisseur and I’ve got to admit that the bars here are pretty damn fun. Whether it be watching wild World Cup games at Lefty’s, playing shuffleboard at The Cellar, catching live music at Whiskey Jacque’s, or experiencing the hilariously sarcastic service at Grumpy’s, there really hasn’t been any shortage of late night activity.
All in all though, these places and events wouldn’t be anything if it weren’t for the people. Although it seems like every other person I’ve met is or was an Olympian of sorts, I haven’t come across anybody that isn’t extremely welcoming and hospitable. Sometimes as an outsider in a smaller town you feel alienated and are met with subtle hints of hostility, but that certainly hasn’t been the case here. The hospitality and overall generosity of the people here is truly one of a kind.
With just under four weeks left to go in my PlayHard GiveBack internship, I can’t wait to see what else my time in Sun Valley will bring my way. If any of you guys that are reading this have suggestions or recommendations in terms of places to see, activities to experience, or restaurants/bars to check out don’t hesitate to let me know.
Until next time,
“The PlayHard GiveBack Intern”
(i.e. Asa Redfield)
P.S. Someone mentioned something about riding a bull at the 4th of July rodeo in Hailey… Wish me luck!