Sunday, November 8, 2015


Looking down the Sunrise chair

We have inadvertently established a bit of a tradition, going for a hike at Solitude and Brighton after the first snow of the year, in 2012, in 2014 and again this year.  A little midweek storm had brought about six inches to the mountains at altitude but the weekend was forecasted to be clear and nice, perhaps the last nice weekend of the year (which would be awesome as we want snow-snow-snow!).  We let it warm up a little bit first and got up to the parking lot at Silver Lake between Solitude and Brighton around 11 a.m.  The sun was up enough to bring the temperature to around 40 F; it was cold enough that Brighton was still blowing snow when we started.

Pausing for breath halfway up the Corner Chute

We started around Silver Lake counterclockwise, breaking off from that path to follow the packed snow trail towards Solitude.  We encountered a few other hikers until we got past Lake Solitude. There, a sign had been put up saying that the access road to the top of Solitude was closed due to construction.  Deer Valley bought Solitude last year and the biggest change they've made has been to take out the beloved, old two-seater Summit lift and put in a new high speed quad.  H and I are not thrilled with that decision: the Summit lift serviced expert terrain only, including Headwall Forest and Honeycomb Canyon.  Most non-expert skiers would take one look at the old double chair and decide to ski elsewhere but this new quad will encourage folks into the area, making it more crowded and probably bringing in people whose skill level is not quite equal to the terrain.  But they didn't ask our opinion and put in the new chairlift this summer.

Anybody lose a ski? Like, twenty years ago?

Since we couldn't slog up the access road, we considered our other options.  The best one looked like going up Corner Chute, between Headwall Forest and the Evergreen cliffs/glades.  Although this is a great little chute to ski, it's quite steep to hike up - steep enough that we probably wouldn't have considered it if it hadn't been covered in snow.  It was pretty well covered in snow, actually: it must have blown in there because it was up to our knees in places.  We clawed our way about halfway up the chute, then veered right, out of the chute and into the trees.  We found a bit of a flat part, found a vintage 1990s ski, and then found the access road.  We scampered up it just a little way to where the Sol-Bright trail came in.  Above us, we could see the construction equipment working on the new lift.  Wolverine Cirque loomed above us as well, sparkling in the sun with its light coating of snow.

Wolverine Cirque

We headed back down the Sol-Bright trail, which eventually reconnected with the loop around Silver Lake.  Just for fun, we finished the lake loop, our wet boots and hiking poles in sharp contrast to the people in their city coats and leather shoes who were sitting on the benches, enjoying the views.  That's what's so cool about Salt Lake City - the mountains are so close that anyone can enjoy them, no matter what they want to get out and do.

View of Silver Lake from the Sol-Bright trail
Edit:  To add the route map:

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