To some of my friends, state parks just aren't that cool.
I suppose I was one of those who thought state parks were best suited for young families with kids... families who could benefit from the protection that a state park provides.
Give me the Sawtooths or the White Clouds or the Frank Church Wilderness any day. For me, that’s where adventure lies.
But I've learned a lot about state parks this past summer, and I appreciate them much more now. In fact, my colleagues who helped with “State of Our Parks” - John Crancer, Pat Metzler, Jay Krajic, Joan Cartan-Hansen – feel the same way.
State parks help tell the story of Idaho. They are the keepers of special places, the memory makers for families. State parks also benefit local communities, with a dedicated staff who understands what it means to serve.
I came away from this project thinking that the folks of northern Idaho really do love their state parks, and use them more than the rest of us. Of course, what's not to love about Priest Lake State Park, Farragut, Old Mission, Heyburn. In fact, Heyburn was the northwest’s first state park.
I re-visited Harriman State Park, in eastern Idaho, this summer and realized what a splendid gift it was from the Harriman family. It is so peaceful and pastoral. It was also the impetus for creating a professionally run state parks department in Idaho… the gift that keeps on giving.
And in southern Idaho, who doesn't enjoy Bruneau Dunes State Park in the spring? Well, maybe some of those runners who competed in the Bruneau Beast run! One of them told us the Bruneau Beast was even harder than the Race to Robie Creek.
“To improve the quality of life in Idaho through outdoor recreation and resource stewardship.” That's the mission of the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation. But we don't give them much money to meet that mission. In fact, we've cut their budget and asked them to raise most of the money themselves, this at a time when more and more folks are using state parks.
But they're a plucky lot, those park managers. They'll find a way to balance the checkbook and still make everyone feel welcome, just as they’ve done so many times before.
I certainly wish them well. They are the guardians of some of the best landscape Idaho has to offer.
“Climb Every Mountain” is what I wanted to name the show, but apparently that name had already been taken. You know- Julie Andrews, Sound of Music? But the soundtrack played in my head as I continued to plan the show.
At first, it was just going to be about Peak Baggers, mountain climbers who tackle collections of peaks, usually of a certain elevation; but as I met more and more mountain climbers, it seemed that peak bagging shouldn’t be the focus of the show, just part of it. A lot of mountain climbers in Idaho don’t set out to just bag peaks; it kind of happens along the way. It felt like the program needed to include a broader range of climbers and peaks, so it could be of interest to a wider audience.
Someone suggested the title “The Mountaineers,” and although it sounded interesting, it just didn’t seem right either. In the end, I settled on the title, “Summit Idaho.” We would be summiting some of the state’s most remote and spectacular peaks, with some of Idaho’s most prolific mountain climbers. The name seemed to fit.
Setting up outdoor adventure-type shoots can be a true test of a producer’s patience. Even after you’ve found your story and found the people who will make it happen, you still have a myriad of details and obstacles to work through; and perhaps the most challenging is weather. Bad weather can ruin a shoot, or at least cause a lot of discomfort. Only one shoot, the trip to Saddle Mountain, had to be rearranged because of extreme heat, but the back-up plan turned out to be a great climb, up much cooler Gilmore Peak, about an hour north of Saddle Mountain. All of the other shoots came together without a hitch, and for a producer, those are great odds.
Director Videographer, Jay Krajic and I followed four groups of climbers up four remote peaks to find out what it means to be mountain climber in Idaho. Each climb provided a great challenge and adventure, was unique in geology and landscapes, and showed us incredible views from the top of Idaho.
Our first mountain was a winter climb to Vienna Peak in the Sawtooths, on snowshoes. The next three – Gilmore Peak, He Devil, and Scotchman Peak – wouldn’t happen until summer when the snows had receded from the roads and mountain tops. Since we would be climbing to high elevations, we wanted the opportunity to capture the best views possible, which meant we only had about a six week window between the last of the snow and the beginning of smoke from forest fires. Now, six weeks may seem like a lot of time to shoot three stories; but for complicated shoots like these, involving three different groups of people traveling to remote areas of the state, we needed to allow for some time in between for rescheduling due to bad weather or for an unforeseen conflict.
What I came to find most interesting about these mountain climber types is their ability to put their bodies through hell to reach a summit. Even with all the planning and plotting, the gear, gadgets, and maps needed for their adventure, they still had to find the energy and stamina needed to spend hours, and sometimes days, getting to the top of a peak. And not once did I hear any complaints of pain or weakness, except from me. I decided that they must have similar DNA to that of a marathon runner. And like a runner, they don’t have a great explanation for why they do it; they just know they must.
Airs October 24th, 2013 at 8:00 p.m.