Looking waaaay down from the Needles trail
On summer Sundays, Snowbasin has "Blues, Brews & BBQ" which is pretty much what it sounds like - live music, beer and cooking out on the lawn at the base area. We hadn't gone up for any yet because Snowbasin is a bit of a drive from our house but this time we didn't want to miss it since Andy Frasco & the U.N. were playing. We'd seen them a few years ago at Snowbird and knew it would be a party; we thought we'd go up a little early and get a hike in first.
There really are a bunch of switchbacks in there
We got up to the resort and on the trail around 1:00 p.m. The crowd was already gathering on the lawn for the opening acts but we had to put some miles on our legs before joining them. The hike was the same one we did back in September 2015: about six miles of uphill and then a welcome ride down on the tram. It seemed pretty hot as we started out, grinding our way up the Needles trail. The ambient temperature was mid- to high 80s but the sun was strong and it didn't take long to get sweated up.
The scenery is pretty nice up at Snowbasin
The Needles trail (MTB/hiking) parallels an access road for a ways so we stayed on the road. It was exposed (actually, pretty much the whole hike is exposed) but by staying off the singletrack, we were able to avoid some MTBers. When the road faded away, Needles continued on (and up) as dusty singletrack, quite steep in some sections and also fairly rocky underfoot. I always forget how rocky the Snowbasin trails are until I'm back on them. We started to encounter more MTBers at this point: the long Needles trail is popular with folks who have taken the tram up with their bikes. Since we were walking uphill and the bikers were all coming downhill, we were able to see them coming and step off the trail for them with no surprises.
View to the east down the cirque
We came off the Needles trail for a number of switchbacks on the Becker and Diamond trails, which gained us quite a bit of elevation before we rejoined the Needles trail for the final push to the top. When we got to the lodge, we ducked inside to get more water and then did the quick (twelve minutes) push to the top of the cirque for 360-degree views. We had seen very few people on our hike up so sharing the cirque trail with people - clean people, some wearing sundresses and sandals, who had ridden up on the tram - was a bit of a shock.
H, atop the ridge
After that, the only thing left to do was walk back down to the Needles lodge and hop on the tram for a quick ride down to the base. The party was in full swing but we went straight to the car to change out of our very sweaty hiking duds and pound sandwiches and a couple of beers. It was a good thing we did - because you could go broke at this shindig buying beer! Lots of people had prepurchased giant steins which apparently gave you a bit of a break on the price of the beers. We didn't have those steins, however, and were shocked to learn that a tiny cup of IPA was $6.00! You could get large cans of crap beer (PBR, Budweiser, etc.) for a mere $7.00 too. I didn't even bother to check out what the food prices were but I can't imagine they were any more reasonable.
Xena keeps H's foot warm
One fantastic thing about Snowbasin is that dogs are allowed since it isn't a watershed. And there were dogs everywhere! Mutts, chihuahuas, golden retrievers, labs, standard poodles, basset hounds, beagles, a massive Great Dane, Rhodesian ridgebacks, Boston terriers ... it was wonderful to be around - and get to pat - all these good dogs. We struck up a conversation with a guy because of his beautiful young German shepherd; he and H ended up talking for quite some time about skiing, mostly.
Terrible picture of the massive crowd - there were tons of people there
The show itself was fantastic and so much fun, especially once Andy Frasco and his band came up on stage. Frasco is a talented showman who is skilled at working the crowd, plus he is very generous with his musicians and kept inviting guys from the prior acts to join them on stage. At one point, there were over sixteen musicians up there, jamming away: drummers, pianists, three guitarists, a bassist, two trumpeters, two saxophone players. They all just looked like they were having a great time too, as Andy Frasco kept crowd-surfing and passing beers around. After playing for nearly three hours, they closed with the Beastie Boys' "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)" with a crowd of kids on stage and the whole crowd shouting every lyric along with the band. So fun. We will make a point of seeing them again if they come back next summer.
The map of the hike can be found at this earlier post. It took us about three hours and was right around six miles, plus the two on the tram ride down. (That hike would be much less pleasant if you were to have to walk downhill too.) Wicked fun day.