Our short trip to McCall

Update Below

We left for a short trip out of town on Sunday to visit the McCall / Donnelly area.

We did some skiing and snowshoeing at Tamarack while we were there.  Neither of us had ever skied there so we wanted to try it out.  The hill isn’t as challenging as Sun Valley, but it was much better then our local ski hill here in Boise, Bogus Basin.  One big plus for Tamarack over Sun Valley is that the top of the mountain is just right for my skill level.  I was able to stay with Shelley all day and this part of the mountain was challenging enough to keep her interested.  It was nice to ski powder runs with her where I could actually make it down the mountain without crashing on every turn.  My powder skills are not that great this mountain wasn’t as difficult as Sun Valley so it made it fun instead of frustrating.

The downside is that the runs aren’t very long and the steep portions usually run off into a flat area instead of staying steep.  Sun Valley has great canyons and very long, very steep runs.  Tamarack doesn’t have these.  The mountain just isn’t made up of lots of canyons, etc.

Most of you who read this blog have no idea the situation that has surrounded Tamarack this year.  This resort has been a big deal for the area and there were high hopes for the community.  Well, Tamarack started up at the wrong time.  It’s only been operating for a couple years and with the downturn in the credit markets and housing, they have been killed.  They filed for bankruptcy last summer and the bank threatened to come in and take back the ski lifts if they didn’t get paid.  A deal was worked out and, the way I understand it, Swiss bank pretty much owns Tamarack now.  The ski lifts stayed and they were able to operate this winter.  But construction has nearly come to a stand still.  Only a few buildings are still being worked on, and most of the finished properties are vacant.  Others are simply rentals for the resort because no one is (or can?) buy them right now.

We drove around the resort looking at the situation and it was really amazing.  At one point we counted 18 vacant townhouses all in a row.  Most in various stages of construction (but not being worked on right now).  The cottages and chalets are all finished, but are rentals.  Very few are owned by anyone.  We did see a couple houses that looked like people were living in them, but again, most are finished and sitting vacant or being used as rentals by the resort.  A real estate broker friend of ours advised us to look around there and expects that they may all be foreclosed on.  What a shame.  But, that’s why it’s called ‘speculation’ and not ‘guaranteed’.

The large iced over lake in the background of this first photo is Cascade Lake.  The white sided building in the center is the large luxury hotel that is unfinished and not being worked on.  They simply covered it up and winterized it till the outcome of Tamarack is better in focus.  Below them are the bubbles they are using right now for the restaurants, shops, offices, etc.

tamarack village

This is the Canoe Cafe where we had lunch a couple times.  The food is pretty good and not super expensive like Sun Valley.  But again, much better then Bogus Basin.  I’m not meaning to rip on Bogus Basin here, just trying to give you some idea of where Tamarack falls in the list of luxury resorts, that’s all.

canoe cafecanoe cafe

As we rode up the lift and skied around the mountain, I took some scenic shots.  One of my favorites is this first one.  It shows Shelley on the lift with the townhouses in the background.  You can really get a sense of how close the cottages, townhouses and houses are to the ski slopes.  Below the retaining wall is the cat track that winds its way through the neighborhood.  This allows residents to step out of the house back door, put on their skis and ski to the lift on their very own dedicated cat track.  What a great idea.  Course, you have to walk home, but who cares after a great day of skiing and a couple drinks?

Shelley on lifttown house from lift

cottages from lift

tamarack express chair

Once on top of the mountain, and before the weather turned against us, I got some scenic shots of the Cascade Lake and the resort down below us (photo on left) and along the top ridge of the mountain.  To the right is the out of boundary fence.  There is another ridge just like this behind me in this photo that has more bowls.  Farther out beyond the bowls is the more extreme terrain where you have to take a guide and do some real back country skiing.  Stuff Shelley is right at home doing, and where I can not follow.

top of mountain easttop of mountain south

I took some photos of the houses mixed into the ski runs as well.  These are all multi-million dollar ski huts, so to speak.  Very nice places.  When I hit the lottery, I may consider one or two.  It’s pretty neat skiing around the hill with all these houses scattered around.

homes along runhomes along run

On day two we hit Tamarack’s Nordic center and went out with the dogs on the snowshoe trails.  They have 26k of Nordic trails.  They even allow dogs on the trails…………….off leash!!!  The dogs loved it.  Poor Ripley got wiped out.  When we got back to the car we put them in then and left to grab lunch.  When we returned they refused to get out to the car before our trip back to Boise.  Ever since getting home, Ripley has been a door mat.  We think her legs are hurting her.  The snow on the trails was very deep in places and its hard for them to walk through it.  She has been given plenty of doggy Advil to help her out.

shelley snowshoeingrich snowshoeing

It was a nice get a way.  We had a good time, good snow and visited an area I’ve only been to one time a couple summers ago.


Shortly after posting this above entry, this news article came out about Tamarack.  What a shame.


One Response to “Our short trip to McCall”

  1. trexmom Says:

    Sounds like a fun time. Initially we were really down on the Donnelly area being taken over by Tamarack – taxes went sky high for Mom and Dad who have had their cabin there since the 1970s. We finally visited there just after Thanksgiving. It is gorgeous but sad that some of the buildings are not finished and are probably dilapidating from the weather. We’re glad you’re back and hope to see you soon.


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