On Monday, June 2, 2003, I saw the Sawtooth Mountains for the first time. To say it was a life-changing experience would not be hyperbole. Within three months of that first sighting I had packed my bags, sold my flat in London, England, and moved to Stanley, Idaho.
To be fair to the mountains, they weren't the only thing drawing me to Idaho; the man who was to become my husband was the particular reason I found myself in this spectacular setting on that day. However, choosing to spend our life together in Idaho wasn't inevitable.
Our arrival in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area was the culmination of a 3,500-mile journey across America that began in Saint Augustine, Florida. We packed up a white GMC truck, hitched a 26-foot travel trailer to the back, and drove through Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, more Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada until finally we arrived in central Idaho.
As we traveled we evaluated each town, city and state as a potential place for a city girl and a country boy to call home. Passing through marks on the map—Monteagle, Russellville, Elk City, Amarillo, Santa Fe, Flagstaff, Las Vegas—we asked each other the same question: Could we live here?
All too often the answer was no: too big, too small, too desolate, too artsy, too Vegas. And then, on the last stretch of our two-week journey, we crested Timmerman Hill and coasted into the Wood River Valley. Leaving the bleak, moonscaped flats of southern Idaho behind us, and descending into the lush green farmland surrounding Bellevue, it felt as if we had discovered a magical oasis. As we passed Valley Market, I turned to Brian and said, "Now, this is somewhere I could live." He smiled.
And then came the Sawtooths. The deal was sealed.
However, if it weren't for the actions of the handful of men profiled in our cover story, On the Shoulders of Giants (page 14), the sight that greeted me nine years ago—as we paused at Galena Summit to stare out across the immense ranges of high mountains—could have been drastically different.
As the magnificent mountains to our north celebrate 40 years of protection this summer, this issue of the Sun Valley Guide lends its pages to their story.
Discover how a handful of determined Idahoans ensured their future; learn how to scale an iconic peak; and spend 72 hours with the man who knows the SNRA best. Because, whether you live here or are just passing through, each and every one of us has a special place in our hearts for a mountain.
Jennifer Tuohy, Editor-in-Chief