Sawtooth Relay 2011: Stanley to Sun Valley

Written by guest blogger Danielle Gruden

My friend Krista was in desperate need of a volunteer for her Sawtooth Relay team this year – and me being someone that can’t say no – I of course was roped into the situation. I thought of rolling hills, lakes, streams and snow-capped mountains as she attempted to tell me of my job duties.

The Friday before the race, I picked part of the team up and we began our drive to Stanley, ID. Our backseat driver informed me to take HWY 21 – it being the best route. Although this proved to not be the route most efficient with time – it did turn out to be the most beautiful. The winding roads hugged the hillside with views of the Payette River. Lush green cascaded down the landscape with snow still topping each mountain peak. We rolled our windows down to enjoy the view and the fresh air – which I might add would be a great new car tree air freshener scent.

We arrived in Stanley – in time to catch dinner at the Redfish Lodge, and to see an old friend Mike – their general manager
(stop and say hello – he doesn’t bite).  Mike was kind enough to help us pick out appetizers and dinner. We sat around till late talking about old stories – laughing and smiling till our cheeks hurt.

Later that evening we headed to Stanley to hang out with a few of the locals and to check out some of the next day’s competition. Downtown Stanley gave me the feeling of a cozy cabin with your best friends. Everyone said hello, everyone had a story to tell, everyone was welcomed.

The next day began early. I love my friends – and if they for some reason question this – I will remind them that I woke up before the sun to take pictures and tote them around for the Sawtooth Relay. I am not a morning person.

To my surprise – I wanted to become a morning person – due to what
my eyes saw. As the sun crept up over the mountains, it was as if it was casting light on all that it felt needed to be spot-lighted. The landscape sparkled as each beam of light highlighted each gorgeous feature.  Our team’s 6:30 a.m. starting time passed, and we sent our first runner off to victory. I began my trek to Sun Valley – in an effort to squeeze in a nap and a bite to eat before my 9:45 volunteer start time.

However, my plan didn’t go according to schedule. The sight of the day took my hunger pains away and each road-side stop proved to be more than the rest I was sure I needed. I took every opportunity to fill my cameras lens with the beauty that touched my eyes.

I made it to my station 10 minutes late – it took me three hours to get to my placement. I don’t regret a second of this usually hour-long drive that was tripled. It was worth every second – you can’t find beauty like this just anywhere. The Sun Valley/ Ketchum area aches to be gazed at. It IS something to write home about. I suppose I should end with a rephrase: my friends love me – because they woke me up to see beauty in its purest form.

  • Karen Jensen Fitch Ballard

    I can vouch that she’s not a morning person, but she is a good writer and photographer. Well done, Danielle.