Thursday, June 22, 2017

freewheeling

 Sunday was a gorgeous day in northern Utah - the clouds moved off, leaving the skies clear and blue, and it was warm but not too hot.  Perfect!  We got to Round Valley around 9:30 a.m. or so (realizing that as the summer wears on, we're going to have to go earlier before it really heats up), parking in the Quinn's Trailhead lot.  Although the parking lot never completely filled up, we did encounter over 35 MTBers out on the trails, which tells me that other people found the day perfect weather-wise as well.

As far as the riding went, I had a less-than-perfect outing.  For some reason that I can't determine, I have lost all confidence in my MTBing. I've never been very good but I've also never been so chicken, and I don't understand why my head is where it is.  I get very nervous on loose/rocky bits, which means I ride more slowly, which means the bike is less stable, which means I have to put my foot down or even fall into the bushes.

Upright!  Yay!

I did actually fall over once, just before the start of the Sweet Sixteen climb.  An older lady was coming towards me on the singletrack.  She looked terrified, so I pulled over to let her by.  She didn't say whether she was riding alone or not, so I waited for thirty seconds and then continued on.  Of course, her husband was just cresting the top of a short, steep hill that sometimes gives me trouble.  He eventually pulled over but I was going too slowly, not sure if he would get out of the way (even though as the uphill rider, I definitely had the right of way), so just as I got to the top, I tipped over, landing on my left side, feet still clipped in.  If I'd been going faster, I would have made it.  Hopefully that's a lesson learned.

H was, per usual, riding really well.  In the interest of his getting lots of miles, when we finished our loop, he went out and did it again (much faster), while I sat and read and patted various dogs as they came by.  When he came back, we had snacks and surreptitious beers, then headed home.  I wish I could get my head on straight when it comes to MTBing but it was still a gorgeous day to be outside, even if I couldn't keep it rightside up the whole time.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

and the beat goes on

After the finish of the Porcupine Hill Climb, H rode back down Big Cottonwood Canyon for home.  Since I hadn't had any exercise yet, I put on my hiking boots to try to get up to Clayton Peak.  I had underestimated the amount of snow up at Brighton, however, and lost the trail shortly after turning at the Lake Mary junction.  I could mostly remember which way to go and ended up side-hilling around the bowl towards the Crest Express chairlift.  Footing was sketchy - I had to stomp each foot into the snow - and I was a little nervous about slipping and sliding into a tree, which would not be recommended.

I made around the bowl and changed course, walking up the access road instead.  I made it up to the ridge when I decided that I wasn't having all that much fun.  As you can see from the photo below, it was completely cloudy and, with the wind picking up, chilly.  I decided to cut my losses and retrace my steps back to the car.  My feet were getting wet anyway.    

That's not very summery-looking

After yard- and sprinkler-repair work that afternoon, H and I still were not ready to call it quits.  The first Snowbird Cool Air Concert Series of the summer was that evening, so we packed our cooler and a bunch of warm clothes (mid-mountain temperatures were only 55 F at 5:30 p.m.) and headed up to the 'Bird's patio for an evening with Annika Chambers (Cory Mon opener). 

Annika Chambers showing us how it's done

Ms. Chambers rocked the joint with her soul- and rock-infused blues; she and her band had been in town for the Utah Blues Festival (which I didn't even know was a thing - will have to check that out for next year).  Lots of fun, great audience response and a fantastic way to kick off the summer season.







Sunday, June 18, 2017

porcupine hill climb 2017

After a few years off, H signed up for the 2017 Porcupine Hill Climb.  He has been riding a lot this year and is in really good shape.  The last time he did it was 2012 and he did it in about 90 minutes; he was interested to see what he could go with five more years on his legs.

The citizen start

The ride starts at the bottom of Big Cottonwood Canyon and goes all the way up to Brighton Ski Resort: 14.7 miles and 3,800 feet of climbing.  I mean, it's all climbing.  There are some flattish sections but it's truly all uphill, all the way up.

Just before he flashed me the peace sign

This year the "citizen" (non-licensed cyclists) start was at 7 a.m.  H rode from our house to the start, as a warm-up; I left a little later and drove to meet him there.  The weather was cool and there looked to be a tailwind chasing the cyclists up the canyon, so that was good.  I watched H start, then headed back to my car.

Just above Solitude

Like before, I leapfrogged the cyclists: riding ahead and then stopping to cheer and take photos.  Both times H looked great, really strong, even on my second stop above Solitude, when the already long climb kicks it up a couple notches.

Strong finish

I got into position at the finish and watched H come in, beating out another cyclist right at the end.  I thought he looked very strong coming across the finish line and he confirmed that he felt pretty good.

What? No podium girls?

It took the race organizers forever to tabulate the results - and it seemed longer because it was cold, with clouds covering the sun, wind and temperatures in the low 50s.  But it was worth the wait because H got second in his age group and took ten minutes off his 2012 time!  I'm so very proud of him and I think he feels pretty good about his performance as well.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

it's hard to believe

It's hard to believe that we're halfway through June and we still haven't gone hiking!  Part of that is because H has been kicking butt on two wheels these days and we're trying to keep that momentum going.  But mostly it's because this has been the year of never-ending winter (which, is fine, if I'm honest) where yesterday it was 48 F and raining in the Salt Lake Valley but up in the mountains it was snowing - Snowbird picking up 3-6" of creamy, heavy, still-skiable snow.  I mean, we didn't ski it but some people did. 

It's melting quickly - and next week the temperatures are going to jump right up into HOT - but for now, if you're looking to hike at the top of the Cottonwood Canyons, waterproof your boots.

Sugarloaf Mountain Cam

Friday, June 9, 2017

snowshoeing 'round the mountain

Memorial Day rolled around, mostly sunny and warmer, and we suddenly remembered that we have snowshoes!  We have old-school Atlas snowshoes that don't get a whole lot of use: when it's winter, we prefer to ski, and then in the last several years the snow has melted quickly in the spring so we've been able to segue easily into hiking.  Not so this year unless we want to battle the hordes of people in the now-dry foothills and the lower Wasatch Front hiking trails - where we like to go, there's still a lot of snow.

Gorgeous sky over Gunsight

Where we liked to go on Memorial Day was up to Alta.  We were curious to see if there were lots of people skiing at Snowbird (fewer than we expected) and we were curious to see how much snow is still up there (quite a lot, really).  We parked by the Albion Lodge - not yet open for summer, although the bathrooms are available - strapped on our snowshoes and headed up the bunny slope.  Note:  the bunny slopes never seem steep unless you're walking up them.

Skiing dude heading out

We weren't the only ones out and about at Alta.  We saw tons of songbirds, numerous potguts, at least nine skiers, a guy driving a sno-cat, a couple of hikers and one fat-biker (the bike was fat, not the cyclist).  There were guys hard at work on the lifts too, doing maintenance on the Sugarloaf chairs, which surprised us a little, being a holiday.  A fair number of trees had been taken down near Alf's, getting ready to put in the new lift.  The Cecret lift has been dismantled: the top and bottom were still there but all the towers have been taken down and the chairs and cables are gone.  It looked like they were getting ready to do the same to poor Supreme.

In-progress lift removal

After giving a couple of hikers directions to Cecret Lake, we continued up past the top terminus of the former Cecret chair, slogging past some cabins and topping out in the trees under Devil's Apron.  It was fun traipsing around in there.  When we ski it, I'm not paying much attention to my surroundings since I have to concentrate on the skiing, but walking on snowshoes allowed me to gawk around.  Mostly - I did slip a couple of times on some steeper sections, the soft spring corn snow sliding away underfoot.

Still looks like winter up in the Apron

We did a lollipop, looping through the upper trees and returning down Sunnyside the way we came.  There were more people heading out when we got back to the truck just over two hours and approximately four miles later: walking up the Summer Road, toting sleds up and a couple of young guys packing salt and a big shovel.  We asked them what the salt was for: building a jump.  Memorial Day mayhem at Alta!

Slip-sliding away


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

goings on

Because of this slow start we're having to our summer, I don't have quite so much material to post about (see: those strawberries).  So here are some links for things to do in June in and around SLC.

Free Summer Outdoor Movies - SLC, Millcreek South Jordan, Draper and Riverton outdoor movies all start soon.  Snowbird's series will start at the end of the month.

Farmers Markets - The granddaddy, Downtown, starts up Saturdays mid-June.  Murray doesn't get going until August, but Park City usually starts mid-June as does Sugar House.

There's the Salt Lake Bees (baseball) and Real Salt Lake (soccer).  Sure hoping RSL starts winning some games soon!

The Ninth Annual Snowbird Brewfest is June 10 and 11 this year.

The Utah Arts Festival (downtown, by the Library) is June 22-25.

The Snowbird Cool Air Concert Series starts June 17th.  I don't recognize any of this year's acts but we have almost always enjoyed who's playing, whether we knew of them or not.

Bike race season kicks into gear in June.  There's LOTS to choose from/enter/watch, including the Porcupine Hill Climb (up Big Cottonwood Canyon) and the Snowbird Hill Climb (up Little Cottonwood Canyon).


Friday, June 2, 2017

not my finest hour

It was back to Round Valley for our regular loop on Sunday.  We weren't sure what sort of crowds we might find - prior Memorial Day weekends have been hit-or-miss: sometimes slammed, sometimes sparse.  We parked at Quinn's Trailhead (again avoiding the extra paved bike path mileage) and got out on it before 9:45 a.m.  The weather was gorgeous, cool and dry and just a little wind.  There were of course other folks out on the trails - MTBers, trail runners and a fair number of dog walkers - but per usual, we didn't seem to encounter much traffic until we had finished most of our climbing and were heading down Rambler (official trail name) via the Sagebrush Switchbacks (our terminology).

I realize it can still be considered early season, but I am suffering from a marked lack of confidence ever since the Klonzo Trails in Moab, and it has spilled over into my riding at my home trail.  I don't know from where it stems - maybe that fall in December when I hurt my shoulder and now I'm nervous about falling and hurting it again?  Whatever it is, it's all in my head and it's terribly annoying.  When I finally reached the top of Sweet Sixteen (our name for the climbing portion of Rambler), I was mad at myself because I put my foot down on FOUR different switchbacks.  Four - when I had ridden all but 1.5 of them the time before!  Whatever it is, I need to get over it because I can ride more than that.

H, on the other hand, is in terrific shape from all the riding he has been doing.  He had to wait for me a lot this time.  Perhaps I'll tuck some rocks into his hydration pack next time.  If it doesn't slow him down, at least he'll have to work a little harder.