Thursday, May 25, 2017

back in my comfort zone

The nice thing about arranging vacation the way we just did is that we got two short weeks on either side of it.  Big fan.  When the weekend rolled back around then, we spent Saturday doing yard work (me) and road riding (H).  We also attempted a cocktail on the patio to usher in summer but northern Utah wasn't quite done with the winter weather yet (another storm was coming, which would bring some excellent snow to the mountains) and even though we bundled up in long pants and fleece, we got chilled.  Perhaps drinking rum and tonics (with ice) while sitting in the shade when it's 60F at most was not our best idea.  We'll try again when it warms up.

On Sunday, however, the sun was out and even though it was still cool, the MTB trails at Round Valley were deemed dry enough to have a go.  We did linger at home a bit, waiting for the temperature in Park City to get into the 50s, and so when we got to the Quinn's Trailhead (opting to skip the paved bike path to save our treads) it was pretty full.  The trails themselves didn't seem too crowded, other than the Sagebrush Switchback portion on the backside of Rambler - but we almost always encounter a lot of people in that stretch.

It's funny because several chunks of our Round Valley route are more technical than the Klonzo trails we did but because we have ridden Round Valley so many times, I don't get nervous (or, I don't get extra-nervous).  I actually climbed the Sweet Sixteen switchbacks (front side of Rambler which probably don't number sixteen anymore after they rerouted some of the trail, but I'm not going to rename it now) pretty well.  There are two switchbacks on that stretch that I have been unable to climb: #8: a very rocky turn to the left and #6: turn to the right/straight for a short, steep stretch/then turn to the right again.  My legs were feeling stronger than I anticipated when I approached #6 and I thought, my goal is to ride this switchback this summer and why not start now.  And I almost did it - got halfway up before my rear wheel slipped, startling me into putting my foot down.  I was annoyed that I hadn't been able to knock my goal off the first time out - but it left me feeling confident that I can accomplish it sometime soon.

Monday, May 22, 2017

peace out, moab

Since we haven't yet figured out how to live in Moab full-time, we had to at last pack up and go home.  But not before hitting the trails one last time.  First, however, we had breakfast at the Peace Tree Cafe (fruit, yogurt and granola; and a quinoa bowl with brown sugar, walnuts and dried cranberries).  Peace Tree is also a juice bar and they had some great-sounding smoothies on their menu; I was really tempted to get one but wasn't sure a smoothie would give me enough get-up-and-go for getting around the MOAB Brand Trails.  Perhaps next time.

Here comes the weather

When we got to the trails around 9 a.m., there were only ten other vehicles in the lot.  It was overcast and the cool temperatures meant that lots of desert cottontails were out and about, getting bunny things done.  As it turns out, even my non-smoothie breakfast didn't give me enough energy to combat the cumulative fatigue in my legs and I only made it once around our loop.  H went around again (much faster, as it turns out, when he doesn't have to wait for me) while I read my book, perched on the truck tailgate.  He finished up just as the rain started.  We tried to wait it out but the clouds looked like they were settling in for the long haul so we took that as a sign to hit the road.  We stopped in at Ray's Tavern - they are very busy during the mid-week lunch hour! - for a beer, garden burgers and fries, then continued on our way.  The red dust will wash out of our clothes but the memories of yet another successful Moab trip are here to stay.

It's like this sign was written for me


Saturday, May 20, 2017

in the steps of those who went before

We were up pretty early and out the door to a new (to us) set of MTB trails: the Klonzo trail system, about ten miles north of Moab and then twenty minutes east on a dirt road, across Courthouse Wash and into the desert.  Although we passed a ton of folks out camping, we were the only ones at the trail head parking lot.  We ate our breakfast bagels on the tailgate of the truck, got organized and headed out onto the trails.

 Dino tracks along the trail


Did you notice that photo above?  ACTUAL DINOSAUR TRACKS in the slickrock alongside the trail. SO COOL!

Post-ride refreshments

We ended up doing almost all of the Klonzo South trails: Midway to Carousel, Gypsy-Wizard-Magician, out to Zephyr (connector with the MOAB Brand Trails) and back.  I will admit that at first I was VERY nervous.  This was only the third time I'd been back on the bike, and this time on trails that I knew nothing about.  To be honest, they were pretty easy trails but Midway, where we headed out, was singletrack on a side hill and I had a death-grip on my handlebars, walking in several places that I totally could have ridden.  After some time on the gentle Carousel slickrock and Zephyr sand, I calmed down and I suspect that when we go back, I'll be fine.

False Kiva view

We only saw two other MTBs when we were out on the trail but when we got back to the truck for post-ride beers, it was starting to get busy, with MTBers, trail runners and assorted dogs arriving for their time on the trails.

On the trail to False Kiva

Next stop was the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands.  Saturday night, when we were at the Moab Brewery, a guy we were talking to told us about the "secret" trail to False Kiva.  This is an ongoing archeological site of Native American ruins, tucked under the rim of the mesa.  There is no sign (the park rangers have to tell you about it if you ask but it isn't marked so as to try to keep foot traffic down) but there is a trail and you are allowed to hike it.  So we did - and ended up seeing twelve people on this supposedly secret trail!

False Kiva is well-hidden

The trail is steep and rocky in spots, with some loose footing, but it was generally easy enough to follow the cairns when the trail got faint.  We found the site - a stone ring, peck basins, pictographs and roped-off burial sites - in a large alcove, completely hidden from sight.  We had to wonder: why did the native people build here? and how did anyone even find the ruins?

It's a false kiva because there's nothing underneath

After pausing at the Aztec Butte parking lot for beers, we headed back to town.  Frank the office dog was not in attendance but Pearl the office dog and her adoptable foster brother Nico were, so we stopped in for some bellyrubs.  Nico is pretty nervous around new people but after ten or fifteen minutes, he stepped close enough for H to scratch his ears.

Pictograph

We had pre-dinner beers at Woody's before trying out a new (to us) place for dinner, 98 Center, just around the corner from the motel.  It was great: tiny, casual, serving bahn mi and pho and steamed buns with kimchi (including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options), with $2 PBRs and $4 G&Ts.  We got there just before it filled up, scoring a prime booth, and enjoyed the people-watching - and there was plenty of that, with both tourists and locals in attendance for the evening's Open Mic.  We got home in between the downpours, watched the rain from our stoop and then called it a day.  A very good one, in fact.

Ride stats:  11.82 miles; 1 hr. 57 min.; 6.0 moving average (I'm so slow!); 14.3 max.

Hike stats:  2.6 miles, approx. 1.5 hours (including time spent at the ruins)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

double sessions

In the morning, we had thought to hit the Love Muffin Cafe for breakfast.  We got there a little late (7:30 a.m.), however, and the line was out the door, so we just headed on up to Dead Horse Point State Park and had bagels and peanut butter on the tailgate instead.  There were only five cars in the parking lot when we got there which meant we breakfasted uninterrupted and then got onto the trails around 8:45.  

Upright and loving it

We did the Big Chief loop (where we encountered just three other MTBers), then crossed to road to do Whiptail.  H continued around the Twisted Tree loop while I headed back.  This was only my second day back on the bike after a winter off and I was struggling with my bike handling, especially with all the uphill over rock plus immediate turn combinations.  He caught back up to me on Raven Roll and we barreled along back to the parking lot.  (At one point I stopped to let a small guided group go past.  The guide pedaled by and then slammed on her brakes, exclaiming to me, "I used to have a bike like that! That's a GREAT bike!" much to the amusement of her clients.)

In the vicinity of Marlboro Point

 When we got back to the truck (11:45ish), the parking lot was packed.  We pounded a couple beers and [H] did some preventative bike maintenance, then stopped in at the visitors' center to ask about Marlboro Point, which isn't actually in Dead Horse Point State Park but is located somewhere between it and the Island in the Sky visitors' center.  The very young state park ranger had never even heard of Marlboro Point but he googled it on his phone and let us read what he found - basically we were looking for an unsigned dirt jeep road before the national park boundary.

Some arches are just cute

Since we had our annual national parks pass, it wasn't much of an ordeal to go out to the Island in the Sky visitors' center next (and noting at least four unsigned dirt jeep roads en route) to ask about Marlboro Point.  The park ranger there was surprised at our question - I doubt she'd been asked it much, if ever - and while she didn't know, she had at least heard of it.  She disappeared into a back room for a couple minutes and then came out with "it's the first road on the right after you leave the park ... and then take the third right."

Top of the mesa, facing Dead Horse Point State Park

We found the road and headed in on foot; even though our truck is 4WD, it's a full-size pickup which makes maneuvering on narrow roads challenging.  Within just a few minutes, the road noise behind us vanished and it was just us in the desert.  We passed several camp sites (of the just drive in and take one variety), then turned down what we thought was the third right.  After a bit, we came to the cliff edge of the mesa.  The ground fell away and the Canyonlands were stretched out before us.

Coyote tracks (not shown: all the rabbit tracks that coyote was probably after)

We went back to the main jeep road and kept going, unsure of whether we actually found Marlboro Point (we didn't, actually) but enjoying the scenery nonetheless.  At one point, the road crossed a wash and we turned and just followed the wash out to the cliff.  The views were spectacular and we had the whole place to ourselves, except for range cows, jackrabbits and desert cottontails.

H, not at Marlboro Point, but whatever

We retraced our steps back to the truck and returned to town.  We got cleaned up, had cocktails in the shade, did some research for the next day's activities and then went on to dinner at Miguel's Baja Grill (the Mother Of All Burritos filled with poblano chiles, beans, onion and tomato for H; portobello mushroom tacos for A; margaritas for both).  To be honest, we crashed pretty early.

Ride stats:  19.29 miles (for H); 2 hrs 11 minutes; 8.8 m.p.h. average speed, 26.4 max. speed (again, H).

Hike stats:  5.15 miles; 1 hr. 42 min.; 3.0 m.p.h. moving average; a whopping 600 feet of elevation.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

back to town

By Saturday morning, our camping interlude had come to an end.  I do like camping (now, out here where it is dry with no mosquitoes) and car camping is super-easy, with the air mattress and big cooler of cold beer and extra clothes just-in-case.  But I have my limits and 2-3 days is about it.  We broke down camp, reorganized the truck so we could access the hiking and MTBing gear better and headed back up to Moab.  This may have been the last time we stay at the Needles Outpost too: the campground is a private business, leasing land from the state, and the state is selling the 640-acre parcel at auction later this month.  We hope that it doesn't get bought by a developer - it would be difficult, since it is off-grid and all the water has to be trucked in - and it would be great if the new owner continued to operate the Outpost, especially since it's the only services within 45 miles of the Needles.

View of the La Sals from Needles District

We were up at the MOAB Brand Trails around 10:30 a.m. and got our wheels on the dirt a half hour later.  The parking lot was busy but not completely full, not a bad crowd for mid-morning on a weekend.  We did see quite a few people on the Bar M loop our first time around but it had cleared out by our second time through.  We finished up around 1:30 p.m., just in time for a squall with strong wind gusts to blow through.  H almost lost his hat!  Once the little storm moved off, we puttered around for a while, patting the various dogs who stopped by to say hello as we put our gear away.

Claret-cup in bloom

We checked in at the Kokopelli Lodge (office dog Frank was available for belly-rubs), took quick showers and then headed to the laundromat and supermarket.  Rain moved in again while we were finishing our errands - absolutely bucketing down for a while - but there was a break long enough for us to walk to the Moab Brewery.  The place was packed (and it wasn't even 6 p.m. yet) but we managed to score seats at the bar, where we talked with some folks.  One guy, originally from New Hampshire, now lives in Cottonwood Heights and skis at Alta; and a cycling couple now from Boulder but originally hailing from Vermont and Pittsburgh.  (The wife was wearing a Penguins shirt and was not happy that the Washington Senators were currently beating her team in playoff hockey on the bar's televisions.)  We ate healthily (veggie wrap and veggie burrito), drank some Johnny's IPAs and scored some hiking recommendations for the next day.  Not a bad way to transition back to civilization after a couple of days in the desert.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

needles district, day 2

We got up the next morning around 6:45 a.m., to the quiet sounds of other early risers around us.  After a quick breakfast (coffee, oatmeal and bagels with peanut butter and honey), we got into our hiking duds and headed off.  We had mulled it over and decided to do the Confluence Overlook hike again, figuring that it might be less busy than many of the other day hikes in the area.

Just past Big Spring Canyon

We had boots in the dirt (or on the rock, as it were) at 8:45 a.m., with only four other cars at the trailhead (including two from Maine and a truck from Montana) and just one guy who looked like he was backpacking heading out ahead of us.  The temperature was lovely and cool to start but heated up quickly under those clear skies, topping out around 88F by the time our hike was over.

Peekaboo

This hike is rated as "difficult" because of its length and exposure - there is almost no shade whatsoever for the entire 10+ mile round trip - but the walking itself is not so hard.  You scramble up and over sandstone fins and then walk on a well-defined path across the valleys in between.  We saw the kids from Maine as they were heading back to their cars from a night "cowboy camping" (which I took to mean sleeping in the open without tents) and caught up with the Montana guys out at the Confluence Overlook; in total, we saw twenty people out there, including the occupants of several jeeps out on the off-road roads. 

Very helpful ladder

The Confluence itself was not as sharply delineated as when we'd been there in 2014, possibly because of the recent area rains.  Still, you could definitely see the line where the Green River and the Colorado River merged.  It's pretty cool.  We found some shade under a boulder at the overlook and paused a while for the view and some snacks (apples, dried pineapple and vegan "jerky" ("Texas BBQ tofu" and "hot and spicy mushroom" which, while not fabulous, weren't terrible either - we're trying to eat healthier these days)).  Then we refilled our hydration packs, reapplied sunscreen and headed back. 

Path across the valley

This is when it started getting hot, baking in those valley crossings.  I handle the heat better than H does - he puts his head down and just walks, no more talking - but even I was feeling it.  I ended up putting on a long sleeve white t-shirt that I had brought to protect my arms from the sun.  Even with two applications of SPF50, it wasn't enough.  When we got back to the trailhead, there were a fair number of tourists milling around.  I overheard a couple of them say, "This looks good - it's flat," and smiled, because they hadn't gotten to the rim of Big Spring Canyon yet, where it drops off.  They had changed their minds, returned to their cars and driven off before we had even finished our post-hike beers.

View of the actual Needles

 We were pretty hungry (and thirsty too), so we stopped at the Needles District visitors' center on our way. out.  They have a couple of shaded picnic tables and we availed ourselves of one for chickpea salad roll-ups and more beers.  Thus refreshed, we went back to camp, rolling in around 2:45 p.m.  It was definitely hot at that point so we took showers and pulled our chairs into the shade provided by a twisted juniper tree for the afternoon.

Classic desert signpost

The evening was noticeably warmer and windier than it had been the night before, so we waited until sundown before making dinner (same as the previous night) and more pina coladas (which have become my new camping favorite: rum and Jumex coconut-pineapple nectar).  Because of the wind, we opted not to build a campfire, instead moon- and star-gazing in the quiet night.

Hike stats:  10.44 miles; 4 hrs 5 min. moving time, 54 min. stoppage; 1,800 feet elevation gain; 2.5 m.p.h. moving average.

Friday, May 12, 2017

needles district, day 1, 2017 edition

Even though Snowbird's lifts are still turning (and even though the Wasatch mountains will probably be getting more snow next week), we are segueing out of winter and into summer, most notably by our recent long weekend to greater Moab.  We left Salt Lake City around 6:15 a.m. Thursday, arriving at Needles Outpost campground noon-ish.  We picked out our campsite - #7 this time, which was not quite as fabulous as #9 - and set up the tent.

Getting settled in

After lunch, we drove in to Canyonlands National Park/Needles District and nabbed one of the last parking spots at the Squaw Flat trailhead for a jaunt around the Lost Canyon lollipop loop.  It was pretty hot since we didn't get started until 2:15 p.m., but it was a fairly well-shaded trail, following the wash under big cottonwood trees for the most part. 

Those shorts could scarcely be less flattering

Lost Canyon was beautiful, an oasis of green in the desert, with varnished cliffs, pockets of spring-fed pools and lots of birds and lizards (plus a couple of squirrels).  The hiking itself was mostly easy: flat along the creek beds with a little up-and-over on slickrock fins; the walking was tough, however, because the footing was sandy.  We don't have any photos from the hike itself because our camera battery had died but above is a post-hike parking lot beer.

Moonrise

Back at the campground, we cashed in a couple of shower tokens to get cleaned up, then made an elegant dinner of Zataran's dirty rice, supplemented with dehydrated vegetables, and pina coladas.  H became a Swiss Army knife-wielding hero to the next campsite over when they realized the didn't have a corkscrew for their bottle of wine.  The sun went down; the little bats came out, gobbling up the gnats; the moon came up, outshining the stars; and we had a campfire.  Welcome to the first day of vacation.

Hike stats:  8.6 miles (the GPS didn't get an accurate reading because we were hidden in the canyon) with 1.300 feet of elevation gain; 3 hours 7 minutes of movement, plus 29 stoppage minutes; 3.3 average moving speed.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

here's a hint

This photo will give you a clue as to why we've been absent here at We Went West.  We'll be back up and posting soon, after we're done with the huge pile of laundry ...


Saturday, April 29, 2017

deepest

Winter has had a tough time letting go this year.  Which is fine by us because that bodes well for the water table, even if it means a delayed start to hiking and MTBing - hell, maybe we'll go snowshoeing!  This past week we had a storm that just couldn't quit and Snowbird got over 4.5 feet of snow.  Four and a half feet.  159" base.  At the end of April.  586" year-to-day.  That's awesome!

Snowbird is the only resort still open in Utah.  That, coupled with the epic amounts of snow, meant that there were crazy-long tram lines this week.  They had some in-bounds slides and were having to dig out some of the lifts.  By Friday afternoon, they got Mineral Basin open and by Saturday, numerous lifts were running in addition to the tram.  The storm moved off into Colorado, the blue skies opened up and we didn't go.  But I bet it was great.  Temperatures have stayed cold so the snow should be relatively light, even given the lateness of the season.  If Alta were open, we would have gone (#altasnobs).


Monday, April 24, 2017

in summation

2016/2017 goes down as the second best ski season snowfall-wise since we've been in Utah, second only to the incredible 2010/2011 season where Alta got over 724 inches and ended the season with a 206 inch base.  This season Alta received 539 inches, even with the late start and the early close, and there was still at least ten feet of snow on the ground for closing day.  We had some amazing ski days, including a couple that H believes are his best ever and may rank up there in all-time great days.  He skied 47 days, taking 727 lift rides and accumulating 1,015,057 vertical feet.  I fell a little short - with the two week delay in opening, plus days where I didn't go but H did: with only 38 ski days, 523 lift rides and a paltry 707,932 vertical feet.  I shall have to do better next year.

And now we are in shoulder season.  H is out on his road bike, but bundling up because it's been chilly - seasonable, but chilly.  There is far too much snow in the Wasatch and Uintah mountains for hiking and the MTB trails are too wet to ride.  Rather than bore you with our recent stay-at-home-and-do-chores weekend (sweeping patio and garage, mowing the lawn, weeding, cleaning up the backyard, reorganizing closets and the mudroom, epic piles of laundry), here are some representative and retrospective photos from this past ski season.  Ah, winter.

Mid-December it finally really starts snowing


Christmas Day


Early January in Devil's Castle - soft!


Devil's Castle in shadow


Gorgeous day to go into the Yellow Trail area


Brrrrrrrrrr


Partygoer on the GMD patio


Early February 


Really stacking up late February 


When your jacket matches the March sky


Late season Superior looming large


K in the house


At season's end

P.S.  I realize that there are scarcely any storm photos here, despite how many we got.  I can only say that it's because we were concentrating on skiing the storms, not documenting them.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

closing day, 2016/2017 version

And then on Sunday there we were, at the end of the Alta ski season which seemed to come awfully quickly with the late start in the fall (due to lack of snow) plus having only one closing weekend mid-April (even with a 120" base).  While it's been several seasons since we had a true spring skiing day for closing, that's what we ended up with for Sunday: there were high thin clouds first thing in the morning but the mid-mountain temperature was already 28 F at 6 a.m.  We got up to Alta in time for the first chair and were surprised that the corral was mostly empty, although folks were already starting to set up for tailgating in the Wildcat base parking lot, setting up tables and chairs, getting their hibachis warmed up, opening beers for breakfast.  As you do on closing day.

Last Cecret chair selfie ever

The snow was firm to start - although certainly not frozen hard like Saturday had been - so we again started at Sugarloaf, doing groomer laps on Devil's Elbow and Rollercoaster while we waited for the snow to soften. We moved over to Supreme around 11 a.m.  The snow was not quite as soft there because the angle of the slopes is doesn't soak up the sun quite so much, but we wanted to get as much time on Supreme as possible since Alta is replacing that lift and Cecret lift and putting in a new one over the summer.  We are a little sad about that.  Yes, the Supreme lift is old (put in around 1981, I think?) and slow, and people get freaked out about the conveyor belt loading apparatus.  A slow lift means that people stand in line and are on the lift longer, keeping the trails less crowded.  A faster lift will just get that many more people up and on the trails faster.  Also, Supreme being a triple chair has meant that it's a great lift for singles to ride: most people ski in groups of two or four so there are lots of spots for a single to fill a seat on Supreme.

Spectacular day out in Catherine's Area

As the day wore on, the crazy started to come out.  Because it was Alta's one and only closing day, the scheduled festivities included the Annual Frank World Ski Classic as well as the party on High Boy after last chair.  This means costumes!  We only wore our regular ski clothes but we appreciated seeing the following: Pope Batman, regular Batman, lots of Wonder Women, a couple of Mormon missionaries, a hotdog and a taco, a couple of buttered toasts, unicorns, dragons, tigers, snow leopards, cows, sumo wrestlers, Boba Fett, Chewbacca, many Easter Bunnies (including one drunk dude in nothing but a speedo and bunny ears), tons of tutus, ballgowns, fairy/angel wings and classic one-pieces from the '80s and '90s.

About half the Frank crowd

After lunch, we went back to Supreme for a couple runs, riding for the last time ever on that poky little Cecret lift.  We hiked in for a last-of-the-season run through Catherine's Area.  We went all the way out, to our favorite glade, where we found ourselves all alone.  The snow was pretty soft at this point, although heavy to push through, and I struggled to push through my turns although H just flew through the crud on his Blizzards.  The last pitch out of Catherine's Area was right at its sweet spot, though: super soft and nicely bumped up, but not too heavy for me to ski through.  Once out, we checked the time and went straight up Sugarloaf and down the front side to get in line at Wildcat. Frank was in full swing and this was where all the people were - the Wildcat lift line was huge but actually moved pretty quickly.

Supreme lift: closed.  Forever.😢

Frank was fabulous, as always.  The bullhorn-toting announcers estimated at least 600 outrageously dressed people perched on the hillsides, drinking beers, smoking funny things and throwing snowballs at people on the Wildcat chair lift.  The crowd was in a very good mood, as you might imagine, cheering wildly for (a) any little kids who hit the jumps and (b) the biggest air from the bigger kids.  We saw some impressive jumps - back flips and a couple of truly massive front flips - and some impressive wipe-outs.  And this year there were two naked skiers, both of whom landed big back flips to tumultuous cheering from the crowd.

The line to go up Collins, one more time

We couldn't stay at Frank for the whole thing, however, as we had to get back to Supreme to get a few more runs in before they closed it for the season good.  We did three runs there, two on Challenger which had softened to wonderful buttery corn (pretty much as good as that trail ever is), and then our very last ride up loaded at 3:27 p.m.  After saying goodbye to my favorite lift, we skied out, riding up Sugarloaf (where the lifties were counting their donated beers), poling around the EBT (where a group of flannel-wearing, beer-drinking snowboarders were waiting for Alta to close so they could poach some runs) and down the front side.  By the time we got back to Wildcat base, the Collins corral was packed with revelers wanting one more ride up to High Boy, where the crowd was gathering for the final run of the season.

Parking lot party - woohoo!

Since we usually ski all day on closing day, we have never made it to that High Boy party.  This year was no different as my legs were shot from pushing that heavy spring snow around.  We went back to the truck and got out of our boots, then strolled with our beers to the far end of the parking lot for some live music by Marinade/Talia Keys.  We finished our beers on our truck's tailgate, surrounded by actual tailgaters, watching the crowd on top of High Rustler get bigger and bigger.  The party continuing to rev when we headed home, sad that skiing was over for the season but looking forward to summer, as always.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

penultimate ski day, 2017

Even though in years past Alta has had their "closing day" and then re-opened for one more weekend after that, this season it seems that closing day is really going to be closing day.  Sigh.  It's a good thing that the weekend turned out so nice.

Saturday was mostly sunny but pretty cold to start: 18 F in the morning, warming to low 40s.  My toes got very cold - because for some reason I refused to wear my boot covers, even though it was only 18 F.  And despite the bright sunshine, with the cold temperatures the snow didn't soften until well after noon, and it was set up hard and scratchy at the start.  We went straight to Sugarloaf, hoping for slightly softer snow, and skied there for most of the morning.  H was on his alpine skis and looking to score lots of vertical feet in his 1,000,000 vertical feet/season quest; since I couldn't keep up with him, I went to Supreme after a while, putting in five runs there before heading in for lunch.

Sunny day selfie

After lunch we skied Supreme together for quite a while then did a couple on the front side, riding both Collins and Wildcat.  While Sugarloaf and Supreme had softened nicely at that point, Collins was still a little firm.  Because of the cold temperatures in the morning, however, when the snow did finally soften, it didn't get sticky - which was fantastic.

Also fantastic: there was no one there!  We never waited in any lift lines; we rode up just the two of us in the chair more often than not; and although the Wildcat base parking lot filled up at midday, by the time we [downed a couple of beers on the patio and] headed down canyon, it was already emptying out.  Seems like people have moved on from skiing - but not us.  There's still one day to go.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

april visitors: the rest of the days

We got to keep our houseguests for another three days and although I had to go back to work, the rest of them found fun things to fill their days.

Living Room

Day 3:  Tuesday was cloudy and cool.  H, K and D hiked to the Living Room, finding the trail mostly dry and practically empty: there were hardly any other hikers/walkers and once they got to the Living Room, they had it to themselves for nearly a half hour.  There were lots of animal tracks but no critter sights, other than a deer on a golf course.  After their hike, they swung by Ruth's for lunch on the patio (taking advantage of the propane heaters, of course).  They reported that Ruth's was busier than you might have thought for a Tuesday.  They kept driving up Emigration Canyon after lunch but, as suspected, the road to Big Mountain still closed for winter.

Lunch at Ruth's

Day 4: Wednesday was a gorgeous day, sunny and low 70s, and I was very envious that I had to work.  Especially since H, D and K went to breakfast at Silver Fork where all three had oatmeal with brown sugar, bananas, strawberries and walnuts (!!).  There was still lots of snow and plenty of skiers at Brighton and Solitude.  Next, the crew drove to Millcreek Canyon, where they parked at the Burch Hollow parking lot and went up the switchbacks to the Pipeline Trail to hike to Elbow Fork (and back).  Midweek, the Pipeline Trail was not heavily used, where they only shared the trail with a couple of runners and couple of dog walkers only.  The canyon road was still covered with snow; the trail was wet and muddy in a few spots but never impassable.  When I got home from work, they were out on the patio, enjoying the mild temperatures, and I gladly joined them.

Still a fair amount of snow in Millcreek Canyon

Day 5:  Thursday was D and K's last day in Utah and it was another nice one, mostly sunny and low 70s, but windier.  I slaved away at work again while H, D and K cruised on over to Park City.  They hiked at Round Valley - H reported that D and K have a very fast walking pace - and then lunch at Squatter's.  They were on our patio when I got home - but it was slightly less pleasant than prior days since it was very windy and the valley had filled with dust.  By the time we left for dinner at the Porcupine, however, the temperature had dropped 20 degrees and the dust was clearing.  By the time we left dinner and headed for the airport for D and K's flight home, the air was clear and we were all wishing we'd brought jackets.
K and H, Millcreek Canyon


We had a wonderful time with D and K.  They were great (and easy) houseguests, psyched to do anything we suggested.  It certainly helped that we had one of the best days conditions-wise for our ski day too!  Come back ANYTIME, D and K!