Ah, spring skiing.
When you have a bona fide excuse for sleeping in and hitting the slopes fashionably late and then quitting early to head down the hill to the local microbrewery.
Any skiing or boarding enthusiast worth their salt knows that you might as well wait until mid-morning to let the icy slopes that formed during the night–after the previous day’s thaw–soften up a bit.
And there’s no use hanging around in the late afternoon when you start sticking to the melting snow and you’re leaving rooster tails of water rather than snow.
While skiers and boarders relish the days when they are lucky enough to be shredding in the famous deep and dry Utah powder, there is a certain attraction of a few hours of relaxing spring skiing days, while your neighbor is home mowing the lawn–and you’re not.
And having dry roads to get up there and a dry parking lot, when it’s time to remove those sweaty boots, are reason more.
Yesterday my snowboarding daughter and I ventured a little further than our normal drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon to Brighton.
My sister lives just below the canyon and when we visit here, having a great local ski mountain only 15 miles away makes for a short commute; this is particularly appreciated during the winter storms that dump the feet of snow we love on the slopes but dread on the drive home.
A couple of years ago I joined friends on a Utah ski road trip where we did five different resorts in five days: the four up Big and Little Cottonwood canyons, plus the Canyons for good measure.
Snow Basin was one of the venues for the 2002 winter Olympic games, including the downhill events. Apparenty they spared no expense in creating the amenities such as the opulent lodges, which according to the official greeter includes gold-plated urinal pipes.
I don’t know if it is something they put in the drinking water up there, but to the person, the employees were extremely friendly and more than willing to assist us in our orientation.
If you think that type of behavior is typical of all winter resorts, you must not get out much. We have been to places–usually not often again–where we felt less than welcome.
The drive there took a little more than an hour, given busy Salt Lake City freeways and the ubiquitous road construction.
On the way home we did take advantage of the “diamond lane” that is usually reserved for cars with at least two passengers; the so-called HOV lane (high occupancy vehicles).
But we noticed that the freeway diamond lane in downtown Salt Lake City is not only reserved for HOV, but the signs also allowed “TOLL” vehicles.
My other daughter, who has worked in transportation planning, said that in some areas you can bribe pay to be able to use the faster commute-time lanes. While I assumed that the primary users would be people with lots of money (my daughter said that they sometimes call these “Lexus Lanes”) I am told that middle income soccer moms–rushing from one kid activity to another–were a more common demographic willing to pay to speed along, which I guess is a form of a regressive tax, but that’s not my blog topic today.
Back to spring skiing, take care on the slopes, as the snow conditions are often not homogeneous, with hard pack on one section of the run and loose snow over crud on the next.
While it is always good to be a little cautious where you ski–or stand–remember…at least you are not home washing the windows, hacking weeds in the yard, or doing other requisite springtime chores.
And won’t your co-workers be jealous of your marvelous tan.