February 9, 2013

Skiing Shred: Park City, UT

I finally get to blog about a ski outing, how exciting!! I don't want to dismiss the mountain biking posts, but I did get into mountain biking to stay in shape for skiing many moons ago. However, living in the Sonoran desert makes my ski days a bit more involved than hitting the plethora of local riding trails. I can at last feel a sense of relief over using my screen name: freeskier46, while I don't ski for free, I enjoy a variety of skiing: groomers, terrain parks, moguls, steeps & trees hence freeskier.

A few years ago our friends from Tallahassee suggested we take a ski vacation together, they wanted something different and knew I would know where to go for everyone's enjoyment. The ladies weren't going to ski or board, but Ray and his son, Blaine, were going to give it a crack. Keep in mind both are very fit as they run a TaeKwonDo facility in Tallahassee. This would be their first real experience with snow country, so   we picked a place that had plenty of other winter related options. Park City, UT was the choice.

We found what appeared to be a really nice condo practically within walking distance to the PC lifts. We all hoped it was as nice in person as the description/reviews/photos indicated.

Another nice aspect of flying standby sometimes is being able to pick whatever flights you want based on other's plans. We waited to get our friends' itinerary then listed on flights that would get us to SLC a bit earlier so we could have the rental car all ready to go when they arrived. Both of our flights went smoothly and soon we were cruising up Parley's Canyon on I-80e towards Park City.

Nice to be back in snow country.
Before we checked into the condo, Ray had set up a meeting with an old high school friend he hadn't seen in over 25 years. It was cool seeing two old buds re-connect over the years, Randy also lives in the area now so he was able to share a little local knowledge with us re: restaurants, etc.

After lunch we eventually made our way over to the property managers for check-in. I have to say, the condo exceeded all of our expectations. Very nice layout, outside atrium with ski storage, 3 levels, upscale furnishings & decor and a gas fireplace. We instantly felt at home.
Outdoor ski storage.
Great relaxing spot.
Plenty of flat screen TV's as well.
Cool sink in the powder room.
Spacious kitchen.
Plenty of room to eat in.
A work center in the loft area.
Our bedroom for the stay.
Single bed in a hallway nook.
The master suite.
The unit was only a 100 yards or so from the free Park City shuttle bus, so getting around town was really easy if we didn't feel like driving.

I was anxious to get to sleep as the following day would be my first day back on skis in 2 years!! How would my mountain biking legs/lungs hold up?

I slept well, rose early and headed out to the bus stop. I'd be going solo on this day as Ray & Blaine opted for some snowmobiling & zip lining. I purchased my lift ticket a few weeks earler online & saved $90 over the window price. I stood in line just before 9a & was on the 4th chair of the day. I started off with a nice groomed blue run, felt good. Second run was much longer, still blue, but my legs felt the burn after a good 3 mile run down the mountain. I mixed in a few more blues and I was beginning to get complacent, kind of just going through the motions, then I made the call to head over to Jupiter lift and tackle the FUN stuff! Jupiter services only double-black runs and personally are my favorite. I enjoy the steepness, the challenge of the tree runs, the lack of people and the generally better snow. Jupiter did not disappoint, I did 4 runs before taking a break for lunch. Just what I needed.
Almost GO-time!
Light snow falling all morning.
A short ridgeline hike up to more goodness.
I love the serenity of the trees.
Clouds begin to lift exposing the valley below.
I ate some fantastic leftover cold pizza for lunch then headed back out kind of in tour mode the rest of the day. I hadn't skied Park City since 1995 & I really didn't know the lay of the mountain. Since my last visit they replaced the gondola and I think they added the Town lift. The runs that serve the Town lift take you directly to the heart of old town Park City, skiing right over the road. Slick.

I had been recording the day on my phone via the Strava app, very similar to having a GPS, but my phone was only at 70% charge & I hoped it would last the entire day. It didn't quite make it, konking out around 1pm, but by then I had 17k feet of elevation gain, I estimate that I finished the first day with 25k & 21 or so runs down the mountain. I'd be sure to fully charge my phone for the next 2 days!
Old Town.
One of the many old mining relics, and ore tower paralleling the ski lift.
End of the line.
By the end of the day my legs were toast, feeling really heavy, I was beginning to question my remaining plans for my vacation week!! Those included 2 more days of skiing, then a 2-day bikepack followed by a 24hr mountain bike race. Hmmm.

I opted to walk back to the condo in my ski boots instead of taking the shuttle on the full circuit through town, I only had to go back one stop. The walk ended up not being the wisest of choices. Ski boots aren't the most comfortable thing to begin with & even in 'walk' mode my toes were getting jammed in the front of my boot. I've had a history of losing my right big toenail after skiing, I'd hit a jump and not quite land properly and smash my toe into the boot. No jumping today though, but I could tell my toenail wasn't going to feel good the next day.

That evening the 5 of us went for a sleighride dinner. It was cold out, but the evening was perfect. Great food & great company.
Transportation to dinner.
K and I staying toasty by the fire.
Our entertainment for the evening.
Back out to the cold!!
We got an early start on Monday, sore toe and all. I met up with Ray & Blaine down in rentals to make sure they were all square before their big day on the hill. I would meet up with them for lunch after their 1/2 day lessons. I started my Strava app on the phone & hit the slopes.

It was much sunnier this morning so I immediately went to the top of McConkey's lift to get some pics.
Up top, backside of McConkey's.
Nice clear morning for a ridgeline hike.
Trails were pretty empty all morning.
My kind of corduroy.
I made my way down to the base area to look for Ray & Blaine, I was anxious to hear how their morning went. I found Blaine first and he immediately said his day was done, just plain whooped!! He also suffered a decent leg bruise, so it was best he stay off it. Ray soon found us and he too was going to call it a day, but he was determined to get back out the following day. They both seemed to have a good time even though they were beat up a bit, but the first day out is always tough. It's all about staying positive and having a good time although you're constantly picking yourself up off the snow. Way to go guys!

After lunch I headed back out and met up with Ray's friend, Randy, for a couple of runs. He showed me a few lesser known trails that had really nice flow. He even waited for me as I detoured down a double-black tree run before heading home himself.
More of the rich mining history right on the trail.

I saw that Park City had a Nastar race course and I've been trying to get a medal from any resort that has a course. Essentially, you race 2 runs against the clock and are handicapped into your age group. I've never raced in an organized fashion, but the past couple of years I've found it a fun challenge to see if I could get a racing medal. I've been good enough so far to nab bronze's & one silver. It's also amusing to see me racing a slalom course on twin-tip park skis!! It was getting late this day, but I'd be back on day3 to get my two runs in.
View from Motherlode Meadows.
A view of the golf course that was right out our patio door of the condo.
Our condo is near the center.
I was smarter this day, I drove over to the resort and my sore toe thanked me. My legs were feeling much better than after the first day and that re-newed my hope for the rest of the week. My phone also lasted the entire day, so I was able to record the full day on the Strava app.

Our last day began and I was out on the chair a little after 9am. This day would be a relaxing cruise around the mountain re-visiting a few runs I really enjoyed and hitting a few others I didn't want to miss. I was going to meet the gang for lunch down at the bottom of the town lift around 12:30p. I did a few warmup runs then made my way over to the Nastar course. $7 gets you 2 runs and I like to take one run on each course. My first run down was on the green course & I snagged my bronze medal! Sweet. I went back up and did my yellow course run, but I don't think I lowered my time, so bronze it is. My medal tally is now one bronze from Park City, Telluride & Deer Valley and one silver from Sunrise Park here in AZ.
One of the snowboard adventure zones, best left for boarders.
I checked the time, just enough for a quick lap up on Jupiter before lunch...if I hustle. I pulled it off and made my way all the way down to town just in time for lunch.
Ski right into town.
Town lift complete with lift card scanners, no lift tickets anymore kids.
What is it about a good bowl of chili during your ski day? After lunch I scored a deal for Ray for a 1/2 day ticket from someone who bailed early. We set a meeting time of 3:30 at the top of Crescent lift and I was off to check out another tree run. First up was Black Forest off of McConkey's. What a fun run, steep up top with nice spacing of the trees, a mellow section followed by a super steep run-out with tighter trees. I don't ski these runs fast, rather pick my way through taking it all in. It's a relaxing adrenaline rush of sorts.
The old meets the new.
Top of Black Forest.
Lower Black Forest.
Next up was Blueslip Bowl, a more wide open pitch with some bumps. I'm not much of a bump skier, but I can get through them. They just wear you down so fast. I try and limit my mogul skiing to two runs per day. I like when the blue runs get bumped up, they are usually spaced really nice and not too rutted up. I made a few more runs then worked my way over towards the top of Crescent lift waiting for Ray.

When we met, I found that his rental ski bindings were not adjusted correctly causing his ski to come off at the slightest of resistance. Not cool. I made a quick adjustment and we were on our way.
Showing off his good form!
Looks like an 'ol pro!
Making our way down past the Snowed Inn.
Ray made it down from the top of this lift, nice work!!
Ray stuck with it and made it all the way down, he even got to witness my one fall of the weekend!! I always fall on green runs!! We saw another skier take off her skis and walk a section of trail and although I know Ray wanted to do that at times, to his credit he stuck to his guns and made it down. The first time up a big mountain can be very intimidating when you're unsure of your ability to control your speed & turns. In time your confidence grows and skiing really is just turning left, right & stopping. Hopefully Ray & Blaine will give it another crack someday.

Meanwhile the ladies had been bouncing around town enjoying themselves and found these hats:
Our three days had come to an end, time to pack up for the trip back to the desert the following day. It was a great vacation to share with our friends from Tallahassee, I hope they weren't too cold!!

Here's the third day via GPS, kinda cool looking.
My best guess is over the 3 days I did 56 runs & nearly 70k in elevation. My legs felt good after the third day. Time to prepare for bikepacking.

Our only hiccup on the way home was our plane was delayed almost 2 hours, so I knew I had to hurry the pace at home as I still had to pack all my bikepacking gear, drop items off with Phil & pick up a SPOT from Seron. Check the next post for those dirty details....

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