Thursday, June 19, 2014

cold front

Oopsie - that week just got away from me in a hurry.  I need to be better about writing posts right after we do the stuff that the post will be about - otherwise I forget that I didn't post anything and then the next thing you know, we're practically at a weekend again and I'm all behind.

Red Pine Lake covered with ice and avalanche debris

After being rather warm in early June, an unseasonable cold front moved in for the weekend, keeping temperatures in the valley in the low 70s and the temperatures in the mountains of the Wasatch Front much, much colder than that.  For Saturday, we had intended to hike Mineral Basin but changed our plans at the last minute due to the Big Cottonwood Canyon marathon that was scheduled to clog up the canyon road between 6-10 a.m.  We switched to Red Pine Lake instead since we hadn't hiked it for several years (2011).  It was sunny but breezy and in the low 50s when we parked at the trailhead, with ominous clouds slowly accumulating over the peaks across the canyon.  The forecast had a 20% chance of rain/snow; we thought we could roll the dice with only a 20% chance.  The parking lot was pretty full and we saw a number of other hikers throughout the day, including quite a few who were descending after having camped out overnight by the lake.  We asked if it had been cold up there and the answer was an emphatic YES - we took that to mean that the campers weren't expecting such unseasonable lows.

The ice was still fairly thick, but punky

With my fall hat and windbreaker on, I stayed warm enough on the uphill portion.  About 2.5 miles into the hike, we started walking on snow. But whereas two weeks ago above Bowman Fork we were post-holing over our knees, here it had been so cold that the snow stayed frozen and we were able to walk right on top of it.  Another bonus: the snow filled in the steep step-ups so even though we were going up the steepest part of the trail, it wasn't that taxing.  It was chilly up at the lake, with the wind picking up and more clouds rolling in.  We stayed up there for about fifteen minutes, long enough to walk along the shore a bit and get chilled snacking on beef jerky.  We added layers for the descent, but still got cold until we were down out of the snow-covered slope and into the trees.

Pausing for snacks near the lake

Back at the car, we changed into dry clothes, shivering in the brisk wind, and drove up to Snowbird for the brewfest.  Amazingly, for us, we didn't stay because it was so dang cold: 45 F, windy and cloudy, too cold for us to stand outside, drinking cold brews.  We walked in, walked around and then walked back to the car without buying any beers.  It was kind of sad, really, because we had gotten there two hours after the festival started and there were hardly any people there at all - I felt really badly for the brewers and vendors.  But not badly enough to stick around.

Cruising the sagebrush switchbacks

Sunday was slightly warmer but not hot, very pleasant for MTBing at Round Valley.  My legs took a little while to warm up but H cruised up Hammerhead Hill with no issues and then proceeded to trounce me by over a minute in our race section.  I didn't care, however, because I scared up a huge mule deer on Rambler, and then had to wait while a big fat non-rattling snake took his time crossing the trail.  Also a bonus: much less of a headwind for the return to the truck.  (There was still a bit of a headwind, but much less than we've had lately.)

June 17, 2014, from our driveway

The cooler weather persisted into the week too, culminating into a completely unusual, very wet storm on Tuesday that drenched the valley in rain and dropped over a foot of SNOW in the mountains.  The local skiers went crazy, hiking up and skiing down Superior, Brighton and Gunsight (at Alta).  Faceshots in June - almost unheard of!  The peaks along the Wasatch Front were frosted white again, beautiful over the still-green summer vegetation.

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