• September 25, 2012
Solitude's Nordic Center, Brighton, Utah

Snow level is just a little above the Solitude Nordic Center.I was working on some plans for a house in Bozeman this morning, watching it rain outside, when a friend sent me a message that he had been hiking in snow on top of Guardsman Pass (the back way from Park City to Big Cottonwood Canyon)! I got myself to a stopping/saving point and grabbed my keys! How could I pass up a chance to play in the first snowfall of the year?!

First off, I’m not used to having to drive far to get into the mountains (though I’m well aware “far” is all relative and I’m still fortunately close) since moving from Park City down to Salt Lake City this summer. That makes me sound so spoiled! I had to drive maybe 45 min to the trailhead at the very top of Big Cottonwood Canyon. The drive ranged from rain to sleet to fog, but it was all incredibly beautiful. The fall colors, wet rock slabs, cloud lid obfuscating the ridgelines, it felt good to get up into the mountains. Especially in the cool weather.

Speaking of cool weather, what a change in a day! The last few weeks have remained hot, and with a little change in the jetstream last week, VERY SMOKEY. Not only has Utah been on fire all summer, Idaho, Montana, Washington, and Nevada have all been dry, hot, and smokey. It has been hard to motivate to train (or even be outside) with the benefits questionable against the lung damage potential. Salt Lake City had high temps in the upper 80s on Sunday, then snow just a couple thousand feet off the valley today! Not to mention the cold front blew out the smoke.

I was told the snow line would be around 8000ft, but by the time I got up past Brighton, the snow started more like 9000ft. I parked the Jeep at the divide on top of Guardsman Pass around 9500ft and started hiking south up the ridge towards Brighton. I hiked out to Clayton peak, but even with Gore-Tex trail run shoes, 6+ inches of snow was a little more than I was prepared for. Not that my feet were wet, but the shoes just didn’t have enough tread left or ankle support for the wet snow on the rocky and muddy terrain.

First Snow Hike

A few minutes after I turned around and headed back to the trailhead, the clouds parted enough for me to get some views down over Bloods Lake and the Pine Creek drainage. So beautiful! Glad I brought the camera!

Now I’m back at the desk, but the memory of my solitude in the snow this afternoon has me more committed than ever to get the drawings done, so I can continue to have the time to play. Get outside!