Friday, June 29, 2012


To try to stay out of the heat as best we could, we were out of the house and on our way to Park City by 9:30 a.m.  I just hate that drive on I-80 through Parley's Canyon - it's fast and twisty and people drive like absolute lunatics/idiots - and now I have another reason to hate it: there was a dead mountain lion, roadkill, laid out on the side of the road.  (To be honest, it would have been so interesting to stop and check it out because it didn't look to be all mangled, but we really didn't think it was safe to pull over on that road just to take a picture of roadkill.)   We've heard that the big cats are all over the mountains here and I'm rather torn: I would love to see a live one in the wild, and yet I really don't want to see a live one in the wild.  They're huge and have very pointy teeth.

Anyway, we were headed for the Silver Lake Lodge at Deer Valley because one of the guys H works with, and has gone MTBing with, recommended the Mid-Mountain Trail as being slightly more difficult than little Round Valley but, since you start at 8,000 feet (if you start at Silver Lake), the climbing is not so bad.  The Mid-Mountain Trail runs for about 20 miles at the 8K elevation, from Deer Valley, through Park City and Canyons ski resorts.  Things were hopping at the Silver Lake Lodge, with the chairlift taking tons of MTBers up for downhill runs, cowgirls leading trail rides and a good number of folks heading out on the single track like us.

Much of the trail was shady and thus super-pleasant

We did an out-and-back totalling 10.8 miles, riding for about 1.5 hours and doing 1,359 feet of climbing.  The singletrack rolled through pine forests, aspen groves and across open ski trails, going up and down but never too steeply or for too long.  Some sections of trail were rockier than I'm comfortable with; I was nervous in some spots where the downhill side dropped away too steeply; and I have wobbly bike handling skills, which makes it exciting in narrow singletrack.

It got especially exciting on the return trip, when I had just thought to myself, "Wow, I haven't crashed my bike in a long time."  And then my spastic steering drove my front wheel straight into a log at the side of the trail, sending me up and over the handlebars, the bike coming with me because my right foot was still clipped into the pedal.  I started somersaulting in mid-air but amazingly it happened slowly enough that I remember thinking, "I should duck my chin," and I landed on my back in a bunch of bushes.  Also amazing: my right foot unclipped when I landed so it wasn't too difficult to get up and climb back onto the trail; even though I crashed on the downhill side, the trail wasn't too steep, plus the bushes caught me; and I didn't land on anything hard - like a rock or a stump - and walked away with only a couple of scratches.  My chain didn't even come off!  Alas, there were no witnesses to my crash, H being out in front and no other MTBers in the vicinity, but I'm pretty sure it was spectacular.

Not crashing here

We made it back to Silver Lake Lodge with no further mishaps (in the interest of full transparency, H did fall over once for going too slowly, then fell over on the other side when he tried to get up) and found a shady bench on which to enjoy our PBRs and watch the goings-on.  Although singletrack in general, and the Mid-Mountain Trail in specific, takes me way out of my comfort zone, the ride was fun and the more I do it, the more I'll improve.  We'll definitely do that trail again - although if I can manage it without going over the handlebars, that would probably be for the best.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

while the cat's away

Back in May, when I went out of town for the weekend, H accomplished an amazing amount of activities, documented here and here.  I wasn't quite so ambitious, nor did I have more than twenty-four hours alone, but here's what I did while H was up to Logan, riding his bike really fast.


Friday after work I swung by a laundromat to wash a couple of bedspreads and a slipcover that desperately needed washing but are too big for our washer.

Crab rangoons and BBQ pork lo mein

Thirty minutes and $6 later, I headed home, stopping off at the liquor store for tequila and Chef Ming's for my take-out dinner.


After dinner, during which B begged incessantly (she usually pesters H but with him gone switched her attentions to me), I made some margaritas with the recently purchased tequila, some homemade sour mix (fresh lemon juice, fresh lime juice and simple syrup), a splash of OJ and another squeeze of lime.  I don't like pre-made sour mix/margarita mix - way too sweet - but this homemade version was tart and tasty.

Not a robot. A cyborg. A cybernetic organism.

I enjoyed my margaritas with some sci-fi, specifically a couple of episodes of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and then hit the hay.

Saturday morning found B and me walking around a local park before the heat set in.  Then I packed up my hiking stuff and headed up Little Cottonwood Canyon to hike the Catherine's loop we'd done a couple times last summer.  Normally this hike is about 5 miles but the road up to the trailhead is still closed (the campground at Albion is still closed - I guess they open on July 1 even if the snow's been gone for ages) so the walk up the road added some time and distance.  Didn't matter to me: it was a beautiful day, cool and clear and breezy, and once I got up above the pass, I had the place all to myself.

Looking down towards Brighton

H called right when I'd gotten back to the car, letting me know that he was on his way back home.  I had enough time to drive back down to the valley, wash my filthy car and enjoy a pink lemonade sour sno-cone before going home and cleaning up so we could go to the Porcupine for an early dinner.

Frosty and delicious

Not a big list to get through, but I did manage to get through all of it ... except for the weeding.  I didn't do the weeding.  Shocking, I know.  But really, when comes down to doing fun stuff vs. yard work, the fun stuff is always going to win.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

100 miles in the cache valley

H signed up to do the MS Ride up in Logan, Utah, on Saturday.  The ride is technically two days and he'd thought he would ride 100 miles on the first day, then 50 miles on the second.  But the temperatures have been so beastly hot and dry that he decided to only do the century ride on Saturday and then come home so we could go MTBing.  He went up Friday afterwork and stayed in Logan at a work associate's house, a cool farmhouse built sometime in the late 1870s.  H was hoping that such an old house might be haunted but nothing materialized.

The ride started at 7 a.m. Saturday morning.  It was a huge event - 3,000 riders - and extremely well run, with the first wave of cyclists starting right one time.  Technically H was on a team but his pace was so much faster than any of his teammates (the team captain admitted to only having had 1.5 hours on the bike so far this year), that he rode on his own, hooking up with other cyclists from time to time to take turns drafting each other.  Although it was in the high 80s and very dry, the numerous rest stops were well-stocked (local grocery chain Harmon's is the event's biggest sponsor) with water, sports drinks, fruit, bagels, Slim Jims, chips, sandwiches, etc.

At the start, ready to ride

Despite a headwind on the return leg, H rode his fastest century yet, averaging 20.0 m.p.h. and finishing the ride in 4 hours 57 minutes.  I'm very proud of him.  I'm also proud of the fact that not only did he ride a fast century, he then drove home, went to the Porcupine with me for dinner, had a margarita at home and managed to stay awake until 10:00 p.m. ... with no naps - super-impressive!

Friday, June 22, 2012

riding round valley again

After several weekends in which we did not go MTBing, we definitely had it on the schedule for Sunday.  And even though I suspect H is getting a little bored with Round Valley, that's where we went, so I could do some skill-building.  We stopped for breakfast first and thus didn't get on the trails until 11:30 a.m.  It was a little cooler in Park City than in the Salt Lake Valley but we're still talking 80s (as opposed to 90s).  S'okay. It's not the heat, it's the humidity and there just isn't any out here - it's been averaging 8%-12% humidity lately.

Don't stop now!

We were out for two hours this time, with only fifteen minutes of that being standing-around time to look at the trial map / allow me to catch my breath (I'm still having difficulty controlling my breathing on hill climbs) / etc.  We did 15.88 miles with 1,147 feet of ascent, but since Round Valley is all rolling hills, the climbing wasn't too bad, my breathing issues notwithstanding.  We did one trail (I have no idea what it's called) that climbed a bit, with tons of switchbacks: since it was mostly dirt and not too steep, I was proud that I only had to walk through one section that was rockier, and then put my foot down on one switchback that was a ledge.  And that was the uphill trip - I successfully rode back down it without falling over into the sagebrush. Yay me!

Nice day out to Round Valley

We mixed it up a little bit for the post-riding beers, opting for people- and hoopla-watching up at Park City Mountain Resort as opposed to our usual quiet, sit-on-the-tailgate in the Deer Valley parking lot.  We found some tables in the shade up on an ignored deck of one of the lodges where we were able to watch the chairlift riders, mountain coaster goers, zip-line riders, alpine sliders, MTBers, mini-golfers and carousel goers.  There is a lot going on up at PCMR!  That must be what Snowbird is hoping for but frankly I like the mellower vibe at the Bird.  We drank our PBRs, demolished a couple of burgers from the snack shack and rested up for the drive back down Parley's Canyon.

I felt pretty good about the MTBing - cute little Round Valley is excellent for building confidence - and I think we're going to try a different trail next time we head that way.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

moose brews

After our jaunt around Alta on Saturday we stopped by the Utah Brewfest at Snowbird, seeing how it was pretty much on our way home.  All the usual suspects were up there both Saturday and Sunday - Bohemian, Red Rocks Brewing, Uinta, Hoppers, Moab, Wasatch, Squatters, Roosters, Ruby River and Epic - each featuring 2-4 beers.  The sun was out, the live music was melodious, the attendees were happy.  We each snacked on a grilled elk-jalapeno sausage (a great sausage: dark red with a nice kick to it and not at all greasy) and sampled Utah's finest beers.  Of everything there, we were particularly partial to Moab's Johnny's American IPA - nice and hoppy.  Many of the available beers seemed to be lighter, summery/wheat-y brews which people like, but not so much us.  Give me an IPA any day.

Mmmm - beer!

Snowbird knows how to throw a party for sure - everyone wants to be there, including a mother and baby moose (big baby) who were hanging out in the trees next to the parking lot.  Security kept photographers back, since mother moose can be unpredictable and, well, enormous, but she didn't seem at all concerned, even when her baby walked up onto the pavement to check things out.  They stayed there the whole time H and I were at the brewfest; when we left, they were lying down in the shade, quietly enjoying their afternoon.

Can you see him?  That's the baby moose

Sunday, June 17, 2012

alta loop

We've decided that we're spending too much time weekend mornings figuring out what we want to do, where we want to go and what gear we need.  Case in point, this Saturday morning.  We wanted to go hiking but couldn't decide where to go, so we spent a fair amount of time looking through our books and debating driving down to American Fork Canyon to do some less-traveled trails down there. In the end we decided we didn't want to drive that far and went up to Alta instead.  The webcams weren't showing very much snow so we figured we could do a loop on the access roads and see what our favorite place looks like without snow.

Plenty of skiing to be had

We started at Wildcat base and headed up the dirt access road that runs under the Collins lift.  The creeks are all flowing well (but not flooding) and there's no substantial snow until you get above the angle station.  We saw a tele-girl and a snowboarder making some slushy turns on Main Street - we could hear them hooting and hollering long before we saw them.  We made our way up to the Ballroom, still pretty full of snow, then up to the top of the Collins lift.  We had our snacks sitting on the walkway of the ski patrol building, looking out towards Catherine's Area and Supreme Bowl, both completely bereft of snow.

There's still quite a bit of snow, in spots

We made our way backwards around EBT, stopping to look over the ridge to Mineral Basin (Snowbird) and Mt. Timpanogos looming in the distance.  There was quite a bit of snow on Sugar Bowl under the Sugarloaf chair and we glissaded down awkwardly, just barely managing to keep on our feet.  We followed the access road under the chair for a while, then skirted the bowl under the Yellow Trail Area.  The road started descending under East Greeley, making lots of switchbacks, before coming out under Glory Gulch at the bottom of the Sugarloaf chair.

View of Sugarloaf Mtn. from patrol deck

From there, we followed the trails down the Sunnyside bunny slopes - it's too early for those glorious mountain meadow flowers as they're just barely starting to come out - and ended up with a stroll from Albion Base back to Wildcat along the tow rope.  It was a good hike, never too steep, and a gorgeous day to be out and about.  It's incredible, though, how different everything looks up there when it's not covered in snow.

Nothing like fresh tracks!

Hike stats:  6.98 miles; 1,933 feet of elevation; 10,572 ft. highest point; 2.4 m.p.h. average speed; just under 3 hrs. of walking time and about 40 various minutes of standing around looking at stuff, including potguts (Uinta ground squirrels), a marmot, mountain bluebirds and Cassin's finches (little pink and grey songbirds).

Friday, June 15, 2012

last vestiges of the season

There's apparently still some skiing at Alta, if you really want to work for it.  This 6/10/12 video was skied and made by a couple of locals who just can't bear to put the boards away yet.  We're pretty sure this is the only place in Utah that is still skiable.  Looks like it was a gorgeous day up there, even if they did have to wear their rock skis.  (Sorry about the dang advertisement, btw.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

desolation lake hike

Despite waking up Sunday morning sore and achy from all the rock-hauling the day before, we were determined to get out and get moving since it was so beautiful.  Beautiful and cold, that is: at 9 a.m. it was 48 F at our house and 37 F in Park City, where we had thought to go MTBing.  We waited around a bit, hoping that it would warm up but by 10:30 it really hadn't, so we decided to go hiking instead.  Somewhere on a sunny, south-facing slope.  How about up to Desolation Lake in Big Cottonwood Canyon?  Sounded perfect, right after a late breakfast/early lunch at the Cottonwood Cafe (eggs, bacon and toast for me; a bacon cheeseburger for H).

Pretty green for the (high) desert

We got up to the trail head a little before noon and were unsurprised to find it packed.  Usually we try to get an early start when we go hiking so as to avoid all the latecomers.  This time we were the latecomers and since the Desolation Lake/Dog Lake trail is one of the few trails in the two Cottonwood Canyons that is good for MTBers, we did have to do some bike dodging.  For the most part the MTBers were polite and thanked us when we stepped off the trail to let them by, even if it was our right of way.  I'm happy to do that as it's easier for me to move off the trail than it is for them.

Not much snow left up there

The temperatures stayed in the low to mid-50s for the whole 7.5 mile hike, which took us 2 hr. 42 min. of walking and 39 min. of sitting and staring at the lake.  (The GPS is very handy for post-hike facts.)  It was sunny with a light breeze blowing up the canyon, extremely pleasant in the sun but chilly in the shade.  The trail was completely dry and nice to walk on - a 180-degree change from our last slog up to Dog Lake - the aspens were just getting their leaves, and the wildflowers are just starting to come out.  Desolation Lake itself (at 9.338 ft.) was just gorgeous, reflecting a beautiful blue-green.

Desolation Lake

I got a little chilled while we sat up at the lake, even though we were both wearing our light fleeces, and had to wear my fleece gloves for about half the descent.  I had warmed up by the time we got back to the truck, however, and we sat on the tailgate for a while, sipping beers and watching all the crazy MTBers careening down the trail we'd just walked.

We thought this mountain meadow might
be good for camping sometime

Even though the Desolation Lake trail is hiker-friendly, it isn't anything I (or even H) would ever want to MTB on and we were very impressed with the folks who did, including a group of five fit, pretty, totally bad-ass 20-something chicks wearing downhill helmets and shinguards and the friendly guys who were parked next to us.  The preferred route starts up at Solitude/Brighton, goes along the Crest Trail, then down the Desolation Lake trail.  Then it's a road ride back up to your car, unless you've planned ahead and left a second vehicle for a shuttle.  I would love to be a good MTBer but at this stage in my life, I've got too healthy a sense of self-preservation.  I'll stick with double-track and jeep roads on two wheels and tackle the gnarly trails on foot.  It's all good as long as it gets us outside.

Self portrait by the lake

Saturday, June 9, 2012

eight tons

This morning we finished our major yard project for the season.  The lawn on the north side of the house was largely a disaster: a previous owner had cut the sprinkler lines, shored it up with railroad ties and put a dog run in.  We took the railroad ties out two springs ago because they were killing the neighbor's lawn, then regraded it a little.  But the weeds just ran rampant and there was really no grass, due to there being no sprinklers.  Since we don't like all the water that is wasted on lawns, we were not about to install more sprinkler heads and re-sod this 800 s.f. chunk.  Instead, we are inching towards some xeriscaping and this morning's task got us one step closer.

Nearly all weed-blocked

The "OMG what have we gotten ourselves into" moment

A couple of weeks ago, we went back out to Arrow Rock and Stone (where we got the stone for last spring's backyard re-do) and picked out some more crushed stone, deciding on a local variety.  H attacked the weeds and few clumps of grass with Round-up during the interim and then this morning we put weed block fabric down, securing it with yard staples and stone blocks that we'd gotten from Arrow.  At about 8:40 a.m., the truck delivered eight tons of crushed stone and we started in with our shovels and 5-gallon buckets.  (We'd considered a wheelbarrow but thought it might tear up the weed block fabric too much.)

Eight tons? No problem!

Let the spreading of the rock begin

After about a half hour, I made a run to Home Depot for more weed block.  When I got back, our across-the-street neighbor and his two grown sons were there, filling and dumping buckets right alongside H.  Because they are such nice people, they'd just come on over with their shovels and dug right in.  I can't tell you how grateful we were for the help.  It took the five of us just two hours to spread all that rock around.  H and I probably could have done it ourselves but it would have taken the two of us over five hours, and I don't think my back could have taken it.

Many hands make lighter work - so 
thankful for the friendly help

We spread the last of the rock at 11 a.m., said many thank yous to the neighbors (and will probably stop over later this evening with ice cream and popsicles), then hosed down the rock a little to wash away some of the dust.  Our neighbor to the west, who has had to stare at all the weeds for the last couple of summers came out with a couple of PBRs for H and me.  We think he likely would have preferred it if we'd re-sodded, but he has to admit it looks much better than it did.

Rock-n-roll, baby - it's done

The long term plan is to put just a few native/xeric plants out there to break up the expanse of rock, and maybe install a path of pavers to the gate in the fence.  But that's not on the schedule until next spring.  With the herculean feat of having moved eight tons of rock (with wonderful help!), we're feeling like we're pretty much done with chores for a while.  It's summer, it's Utah - it's time to play.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

east canyon recovery

With a two-hour nap Saturday afternoon, I managed to stay feeling pretty good ... until I went to bed that night and really stopped moving.  The next morning, my legs were so stiff and sore that when H asked what we should do today, I really had to think about it.  I wanted to go hiking but any sort of downhill was out of the question (I couldn't even walk down stairs like usual, having to turn around and back down instead); I didn't think I'd fare much better on the mountain bike.

So we loaded our books, sunscreen, a couple of chairs and some beer in the truck, and with a stop at Subway for sandwiches, headed off to East Canyon Reservoir.  We scored a pavilion with a nice view of the water and settled in for the day.  The park was busy, but not packed, with plenty of people wading and swimming - the marked lack of snowpack has meant that the swimmin' holes have warmed up quickly this year.

The rangers had signs up all over the place saying that mountain lions had been spotted at the park this spring.  (H: "Really? Cool."  Ranger-girl: "No, not cool!")  Whenever we got bored, we gave them a call - here kitty-kitty - to no avail.  I would love to see a mountain lion in the wild, but at the same time I really don't want to because I don't want to be lunch.  We saw some sheep pasturing on the far side of the reservoir and figured that was all the enticement a mountain lion would need to come down out of the canyon.

We stopped by the Porcupine on the way back to celebrate our move-iversary (2 years and 8 months).  It wasn't the most eventful weekend we've had but that's okay.  Every now and again it feels good to just sit in the sun for a while.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

again at the crack of dawn

Another June, another Crack of Dawn 8K road race.  Just like last year, we got up at 4:20 a.m. so that I could pick up my bib number and timing chip at 5 a.m. and H could drop me at the start of the race, five miles up Millcreek Canyon.  It was a little warmer and cloudier this year, despite being two weeks earlier; because of the clouds the sun hitting the canyon walls was not so spectacular, although H caught the colors fairly well.

You get to see the sunrise when you get up early!

I started off strong, running faster than I did last year, trying to not hold back quite so much on the steeper downhill bits.  As you may recall, nearly the whole dang thing is downhill except for a tiny little bit at the very end.  After about two miles, however, I got really bad cramps and had to walk for five minutes until they subsided.  This was pretty frustrating because I felt like I was on pace to beat last year's time.  Very few people had been passing me before I had to walk and after I started running again, I passed a bunch of people, but the damage had been done.

Charging towards the (uphill) finish

I finished 5 out of 12 in my age group, 61st overall, with a time of 44:15.11.  Last year's time was 41:09.75 so if you figure in the time I lost from the walking this year, it would have come out pretty close to even.  I have a very consistent pace.  It's slow, but consistent.

Continuing the tradition, we went up to breakfast at the Silver Fork where H had a chile verde omelet and I had the sourdough pancakes with a side of bacon.  Please note: the sourdough pancakes no longer come with that marvelous apple compote - apparently too many people weren't eating it and it was getting wasted - but you can order it as a side.  It was still a little nippy up Big Cottonwood Canyon (high 50s, with the sun peeking through the clouds) but the songbirds were busy at the feeders on the deck and the road was busy with cyclists.  We had the whole day ahead of us and it looked to be a nice one ... but I was thinking a nap was probably going to have to be scheduled in there somewhere.