SUN VALLEY, Idaho – The really fun thing about cross-country skiing in Idaho's mountains is that you have all the excuses you need to sit down to a hearty meal after getting off the trail.
Nordic skiers can burn up to 700 calories skiing at a moderate pace during an hour's trek, according to Snowlink.com.
An adult snowshoeing at a moderate pace can burn up to 550 calories per hour, so bring on the Lava Lake lamb burger with creole aioli and spiced fries with a beer at Galena Lodge.
Or, sit down to pork medallions stuffed with wild rice, spinach and ginger-shiitake marmalade at Morels at Tamarack Resort.
You can start your day of skiing or snowshoeing with a hearty Basque scramble at Smiley Creek Lodge near the Alturas Lake trails south of Stanley.
I'm always looking for ways of combining food and the outdoors, and what better way than cross-country (ski) cuisine?
Here are some examples of where you can get some skate skiing or classic glide and Nordic nourishment.
Ponderosa State Park
Trails throughout the park in McCall offer the beauty of frozen Payette Lake, snowy trails going through hallways of ancient ponderosa pine trees, and dynamite views from Osprey Point.
The scenery is unforgettable at Ponderosa, but so will be dinner at Blue Moon Yurt in the park.
The menu varies, but here is one example: Appetizers, sesame asparagus spears stuffed with harissa chili sauce. First course, grilled duck with cinnamon Cabernet sauce, with fried wontons and shredded mixed cabbage. The main course is grilled salmon with lemongrass mint sauce, with pistachio nut crunch and orange blossom forbidden rice. Dessert is saffron poached pear with vanilla cream and basil.
Reservations are a must. Go to bluemoonyurt.com.
The ski resort near Donnelly offers about 9 miles of groomed Nordic trails that wind through the rolling hills and meadows of the resort. It also has a snowshoe trail system, and views of Lake Cascade go on forever.
Check out Morels Restaurant, which is located at the lodge at Osprey Meadows. It's the closest restaurant to the trails. The menu includes bistro plates, such as a smoked salmon melt with a choice of fries, house salad or soup.
The resort also has other restaurants nearby: The Canoe Grill has cafeteria-style food and a full bar, and the Seven Devils Pub features pub-style food and a full bar.
Go to tamarackidaho.com.
Sun Valley Nordic
The Sun Valley Nordic and Snowshoe Center, just 1 one mile east of Sun Valley Lodge, is a quick place to catch an afternoon of skiing or snowshoeing and lunch.
The center offers 26 miles of ski trails and 10 miles of snowshoe trails along the golf course and Trail Creek.
The menu includes such fare as a Kobe beef burger from Snake River Farms or an apricot pork sandwich on brioche bread.
Go to sunvalley.com.
At the north end of the Harriman Trail, north of Sun Valley, is Galena Lodge, a must-stop for hungry snowshoers and Nordic skiers in the area.
You'll find more than 30 miles of trails adjacent to the lodge.
You can enjoy Galena Lodge's fireplace and lunch, fresh baked goods, espresso drinks, or a house-made cocktail or craft brew. It's primarily a day lodge serving lunches, such as curried chicken wrap or Italian meatloaf sandwich.
Go to galenalodge.com.
Altura Lake Trails
Alturas Lake trails, about 20 miles south of Stanley, offers an up-close-and-personal view of the Sawtooth Mountains.
The skiing and snowshoeing is on groomed trails going through rolling timber along frozen streams.
But the neat thing is Smiley Creek Lodge is only 3 miles south of the trails on Idaho 75.
The lodge caters to snowmobilers, skiers and snowshoers and rents cabins. It has a full restaurant, a deli and an ice cream parlor for the lodge's famous homemade milkshakes. You might think it's too cold for milkshakes. No way.
The Smiley Creek breakfast is a great way to power up for the trails. It includes two eggs cooked to order, served with hash browns and toast. You can add bacon, sausage and ham.
Bon appetit, Nordic style.