We started Utah off getting blasted by snow on highway 70. Passing through Vail, CO, we saw why so many people stay in the city that seems too expensive to be legit. Skiing five minutes away from everything? Yes please. But the second we entered Utah, we were surrounded by looming desert and stunted plants. I just want to be where the trees are at this point.
We’re feeling crunched for time, since we have 5 weeks left and a huge portion of the country left. We made some tough decisions and cut out Arches and Bryce Canyon National Parks, in order to be on the west coast to visit some important people. We were lucky enough to reach out to Elliot, who works at another resort next door (Alta), and is an old friend of Hunter’s when he went to school at UVM. It just so happened Elliot had the next day off and was happy to meet us at Snowbird. We ran into some issues with a campground (which was impossible to access with Scamper), so finally at 9pm we spoiled ourselves with a hotel. We really didn’t know what to do with all the space we had.
When approaching Snowbird the next morning, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. With a base elevation of 8,000+ feet, I swallowed hard when realizing the summit was at 11,000. The mountain just laughed at me. I was happy to be back on my skis with perfect conditions, and fresh snow waiting for us. I took my first ride up the tram and gazed down at the small figures below that were gliding down the slopes. Hunter itched at my side.
Now, if you’ve never skied/snowboarded out west and you’re from the east, it’s seriously a completely different world. I’m not a very good skier. If I didn’t fall because my legs couldn’t handle the perfect snow, I fell because I was watching someone else ski better than me, or because I was looking at the mountains. The trails were longer than I expected. It took us 35 minutes to get down our first run, compared to the ~15 it usually takes on the east. If I was having fun, and if you know Hunter and I well enough, you probably know that he was seriously in a giant white playground of fluff. I’ve never felt so confident on skis before. Here’s a video of us that morning:
Around lunch time, Elliott arrived and casually mentioned they would be hiking up Baldy, the peak that separated Snowbird and Alta, and skiing down a narrow chute. I decided to hang back.
When I saw Hunter post-Baldy, his back was sweaty but his eyes were filled with happiness. I can’t even describe to you the number of mountains we pass discussing lines he wants to ski, and the countless movies I’ve watched, listening patiently as he points out potential chutes he wants to shred. I was so happy this dude was able to finally get on something as wicked as Baldy. Thank you Elliott, because I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get myself to follow him down a chute!
Here’s Hunter’s perspective of northern Utah thus far:
“Utah – I didn’t know what to expect. Whatever notions, preconceptions, or ideas I’d had, anything I could have hoped for fell short. Utah is spectacular.
Driving in late on a Friday night, Salt Lake shimmered like my home state – an open horizon is nice now and again. We got lots of funny stares the next morning, as we towed scamper into the snowbird parking lot and detached in order to fit into the single file spaces. Sorely out of place, two east-coast kids strolled into a maze of a western resort village, emerging to a ticket window beneath looming peaks. I was smitten.
What ensued was one of the fondest days on skis I can remember. The snow was softer than anything I’ve encountered, and threw Sarah and I for a loop on the first run. Endless possibilities resulted in lots of exploration, and we found all of the bumps, steeps, and sublime Utah snow we were looking for. A friend from Vermont (though a Utah native), Elliott met us at the picnic tables and proposed an adventure, with only a slight warning – “the other side’s pretty steep, are you good?”. Little Chute turned out to be the steepest, tightest, gnarliest thing I have ever skied, and subsequently some of the most fun I’ve ever had on two planks. I was also lucky to be skiing with a crew who made the whole thing look easy, and I skied off feeling like I had lucked into a brief glimpse of local knowledge.
Continuing the Vermont reunion, I was stoked to see two more old friends, Tom and Megan, who are working alongside Eliot in Utah. We sat in the late afternoon sun at a table below Alta, sipping PBR and catching up on each other’s lives. I felt like an 18 year old kid again, sitting in the greenhouse dorm, reveling in where I was (minus a few heads, of course… the trip’s not over yet!). I never expected to find a little slice of my Vermont family all the way out here, and it was awesome to see you all!”
He is a way better writer than I am.
During the mini UVM reunion, the three of them agreed that Hunter was one of few who managed to stay in touch after he had to leave freshman year. I was really psyched to be there, to able to share this with him, since he never wanted to leave the crunchy university and his UVM family.
Elliott was insanely generous and kind to us during the short time we were there. Him and his parents gave us a warm welcoming into Utah. We soaked in the hot tub post ski and said a sad goodbye, heading to our new destination, Zion National Park. Elliott, seriously, thank you so, SO much. We felt like we were home again even just for a few hours. Keep us posted about your location and we’re pumped to hear about your summer!! (more text below)
And so, from the cold bitter mountains of Utah, we go to the desert once again. Zion National Park was well worth the visit, and it was a beautiful day…except it was spring break in the area and literally everyone and their mother wanted to feed the wildlife, scream about the long lines, and take selfies with statues. We were horrified.
We skipped the 2 hour wait for the shuttle and hiked 20 minutes to the next stop, catching an easy ride to a popular hike Elliott recommend, Angel’s Landing. A steep climb to a tight ridge with only chains to hold on to was about a 6 mile trek. We returned to the site late in the afternoon and inhaled quesadillas and chatted with some local climbers who were stoked about Scamper. She is quite popular around these parts.
We have reached a campground in Arizona after we drove through the Grand Canyon, and all we can say is they don’t call it mediocre canyon for a reason. We haven’t showered, out laundry bag is overflowing, and I finally updated our blog…ahhh. All is well in the world. We will keep you all posted, but for now, it’s on to California in the morning 🙂