b'Exploringon yourMountain BikeImagineyourselfridingalonga smooth heavily-wooded single track with soft berms of rich green moss outlining the trail.You dip and rise just enough to hold the same gear asyouturnacornerandhavean amazing view of one of North Idahos mostpristinelakes.Youpedal Annualanother 5 minutes and you dip down to lake level just in time to watch a bald eagle leaving its nest along a Snowshoe Softball Tournamentwhite sand beach.You decide you truly are in heaven.You take off your helmetandreachintoyourpack What began as a Priest Lake winter challenge in 1969 is now a generationalfor the snacks you packed for your tradition for many participants, spectators, and businesses. The Annual Snowshoeride and then notice thousands of Softball Tournament started in 1970 by founders George Brick Harris & Fredhuge purple huckleberries ripened Bud Adams has grown to a three weekend winter event, played on two fieldsby the afternoon sun. It was then with 12 teams, 132 players, up to 9 games per weekend, a dozen or so pink dyedyourealizedthatthereisnobody, 14 inch softballs, a $1000 purse, and countless beers served at the local bars. nobody else within sight or earshot. Each four-inning game is played on plastic snowshoes and follows ASA fastYou truly are the only one enjoying pitch rulesno lead offs, no stealing bases and no wind ups for the pitchers. Thethis trail and this part of the 26-mile softball is dyed pink (so its visible in the snow) and the fields are lined with redlong lake.You decide you have to Jell-O.The pitchers mound is a piece of carpet for traction.pulloutyourcellphonetosend Teams have made their way to Priest Lake from all over; coming from as faratext,TWEET,orpostsomesort as San Francisco, CA(Thundershoes) and Corvallis, OR (The Squirrels). For mostofFACEBOOKpictureandquickly realizeyoulostsignalsomemiles of the teams, the connections to the tournament founders, players have nowback. crossed generational lines. The years up until the 90s saw announcers calling outAfteryougorgeyourselfon player/team stats in true Harry Caray fashion, trained ASA umpires, and a gamemountainfreshhuckleberries,you that became so controversial and competitive, the association had to incorporatedecide to take a quick swim in the a 3-strike behavioral rule for teams and players. Although fun is still had, the levelclearest water you have ever seen. of sportsmanship is admirable. After all, the majority of the guys playing are inThe water is fresh and cool and takes their 40s and 50s; theyve been playing together or against each other sincethe edge off your legs from dancing high school, college and/or rec leagues and now their kids are participating inat the resort until closing the night the tournament.before.While you wanted a good This event is a fun time for both players and spectators; bringing people to theworkout,youaregladyoudidnt lake who arent usually here in the winter makes a fun reunion for those of us whotaketheadviceoflocalsanddo are here year-round. Hills has live music each weekend as well as a snowshoethe many steep climbs in the area. volleyballtournamentHundreds of miles of fire-roads and thatcoincideswithsingle tracks.Why dont you ride up Championship weekendto the waterfalls, or one of the fire and now the snowmobilelookouts?No, a nice flat rolling trail racesarehappeningwas perfect for today.It almost felt duringoneweekendoflike someone raked the entire trail thetournament.Allofby hand. these events make it easyYougetoutofthecrystalclear to get out and enjoy whatwater and get back onto your bike Priest Lake has to offer inforthesmoothfastridehometo the winter. the resort.Just then you think to yourself, I really need to come back to Priest Lake more often. Dave Lawless19'