Adventure December 20, 2017

Under the Moonlight

Adding a new dimension to both dining and skiing

Skiing and snowshoeing around Galena Lodge is magical any way you cut it.

Marshmallow-like mounds of snow all but hide Gladiator Creek, which was sporting purple penstemon mere months earlier. And Douglas fir flocked in snow sparkles in the winter sun.

But skiing and snowshoeing under the full moon adds an additional element of magic to the scene, a new dimension, if you will.

Twilight casts a purple-blue sheen in the sky as the moon rises over the mountains. And, often stars can be seen shimmering in the sky, adding to the wonder of it all. The experience is so awesome that Full Moon Dinners at Galena Lodge have become a yearly winter ritual for many Sun Valley residents.

Photo courtesy Galena Lodge

They ski under the moonlight on some of the easier trails along Gladiator Creek or up through Senate Meadows. Or they head out on snowshoes on the Cowboy Cabin Trail along the banks of the Big Wood River. As stomachs begin growling, they convene at the rustic log lodge at 6:30 p.m. for a four-course meal with a choice of entrees, such as grilled elk tri-tip or Idaho ruby trout, served up with salad and dessert. All polished off, of course, with the cocktail du jour by the fire. Wine pairings are available for those who want them.

“It doesn’t have to be an ambitious adventure. But just 15 minutes out in the evening under the moon and stars will remind you of how amazing of a place we live in and how small we really are,” said Erin Zell, who is embarking on her 12th year of running Galena Lodge with Don Shepard.

The communal dining experience, which costs $40 per person, can be just as exhilarating as the magical trek under the moon.

Jim Keller and Susan Giannettino have gone with friends to the Full Moon Dinner, and they’ve gone alone. They’ve found the experience invigorating both ways. “The Full Moon Dinner is a chance to have some amazing conversations over a plate of fabulous food,” said Giannettino. “The atmosphere at Galena Lodge is so warm and comfortable you can’t help but be inspired to make new friends at the dinner table. We spent one night talking with a man who had founded Nasdaq. He’s someone we never would have crossed paths with any other way.”

Ed and Carmen Northen are avid skate skiers by day. But they prefer to snowshoe during full moons, leaving the cross-country trails to classical skiers. “It’s always so unbelievably bright outside,” said Carmen.

“It’s so picturesque with the shadows on the meadows,” added Ed. “It gives you a different perspective of the peaks surrounding the lodge. It can be frosty so you have to dress warm. But you’re out there exercising so you keep warm.”

The couple always ends their trek with plenty of time to meet out-of-town visitors and others over hors d’oeuvres in front of the fireplace. “It’s just a nice place to amble around, catch up with old friends and meet new ones,” said Ed.

This article appears in the Winter 2017 Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.