Ski Prep- Top 6

In our house, fall isn’t really one season, but two: “Almost Ski Season” and “Ski Season.” We spend the Almost Ski Season getting our ski bags sorted out, and generally getting our heads in the game. Here, the top six ways my family and I prepare for the ski season:

1. Just a bit more summer….

I know, I know, it’s like skier blasphemy—we spend half the year fantasizing about recreating that perfect run from the previous ski season, so why in the name of Hidden Treasure would I need more summer? Well, there is something about summer that just reinforces my longing for winter. I’ve had my fill of warm weather, and I’m ready to stash my flip-flops, and slide into my sheepskin boots. Or my cute high-heeled boots. Or the fun magenta lace-ups. When you live in snow country, your boot wardrobe is diverse.  Also, historically, when we travel to a warm climate in autumn, the snow gods hear us and dump snow. So…we spent the kids’ fall break soaking up the sunshine in Florida, giving our flip flops one last big outing, and then—Boom! We came home to a solid October 26 storm. You’re welcome.

2. The October Storm 

This year’s flake-fest happened exactly one day later than last year’s. Both served as opportunities to dig out the winter gear, figure out what fits, needs replacing, We pulled out jackets, pants, helmets, and boots. We determined everyone needed new jackets, Mom and Dad needed new pants, too, and the boys had plenty of pants to keep them warm on the hill and the school playground during the week. (This is key—the kids here actually wear their bib pants at school all day, to save the hassle of suiting up repeatedly for snow play.)

3. Comic Relief
The Saturday after the big storm coincided with the Saturday before Halloween—and Seth had a birthday party to attend where my friend Belinda revealed her heretofore hidden (to me) face-painting skills. We went straight from there to shop for soft goods—and brought our own entertainment committee. Seth walked into Jans and Cole Sport announcing,

“I am a ZOMMMMMBIE!” and kept us giggling through what is otherwise an extremely tedious process (shopping with kids, that is.) Jackets accomplished, except for mom, but I snuck my new duds into the gear shopping day. What? What’s that?….

4. A second day of shopping.

There’s no way to get all the gear in one day when you have kids—shopping-averse kids, at that. So, we set out to make the rounds to upsize their equipment. Lance is in an annual rental program at Utah Ski and Golf, for which we paid an up-front fee before his first season, and all we have to do is show up in the fall with the previous year’s gear, and he gets fitted into his new size at no additional charge. 

While we were there, we bought him a new orange helmet to match his new blue and orange coat, plus ski gloves for Seth.  Next stop: Surefoot, where. Seth is enrolled in a trade-up program, so that each time he outgrows a pair of boots, we trade in and get half of what we paid for them back in credit toward the new pair. Then we headed to Jans to enroll him into the ski program—which works similarly: you purchase the gear at full price, then receive 40 percent back toward the purchase of a new pair when the first pair is outgrown, and so on. And you know you’ve done your job indoctrinating the kids into the “play inside in your gear” habit when you find your son skiing around Jans.

5. Candy. Lots and lots of Halloween Candy.  If you know me at all, you know I never ski without bribes—I mean rewards.  In our house, we know that Halloween Candy isn’t going to get gobbled up in the first week of November. I like that the holiday falls conveniently close to the start of ski season, because those mini Milky Ways and Twizzlers tuck nicely into the pockets of my jacket and pants. Don’t forget to hit me up for a sweet treat when you see me on the hill!

6. Brunch at Deer Valley Grocery Café. Duh. I mean, if you’re planning to ski for lunch a few times a week, you might as well get in practice. I ignored the siren call of the French Toast (I know, I know) and ordered oatmeal with tons of fresh and dried fruit. It can’t hurt to at least start pre-season training in “healthy” mode, right?

Taking the Stairs

One of our favorite family traditions involves climbing a flight of stairs. Not just any flight of stairs, mind you, but the stairs that lead to the Season Pass office just above the Lift Tickets windows at Snow Park.

Nobody—and I mean nobody is in a bad mood in the season pass office before the resort opens. The very fact of being here in November means we will be ready to ski the second the lifts are running on December 8. (Trust me, a couple of years ago, I delayed picking up my pass until opening weekend—and I had to work very hard to fight the case of the grumpies that came over me as I realized my ski day would be slightly truncated because I had to wait in a line to get my pass.).

This year, as always, we were greeted by friendly Deer Valley employees. Sue and Debbie made sure the entire family had perfect photos on our passes (and made appropriate oohing-and-ahhing noises over the cuteness of my kids’ grins. And, as a bonus, we got to share the tradition with some dear friends, who have made the leap from part-time residents to full-time Parkites. There may or may not have been some grumpy moments leading up to this one—and those moments may or may not have involved any of the five children in our two families. (Our kids don’t typically run around in full ski gear,  but we went ski clothes shopping before picking up our passes. In case the photo below had you confused. And probably contributed to their moods). But any minor mood issues were fast resolved by the cold hard plastic in our hands, signifying the imminent season.

Outside, the kids played with the snow, we took a few pictures, and reveled in the fun of the moment. Then, when my pal Jack and I could not help resist its siren call a moment longer, we turned to the trail map, to try to pre-select our first runs of the season. (And, by the way, I’m not telling…you’ll just have to find us out there…).

What’s your favorite pre-season tradition?

‘Dust in the Wind’

Actually, there wasn’t any wind the night Kansas played with the Utah Symphony. There was, however, perfect, custom-ordered Park City weather. Yes, it had rained off-and-on all day, but the late afternoon cloud-cover, with just a hint of sun peeking through, provided lovely light (and very low UV index) for the first half of the evening.

Taking in the sunset while some classic ‘70s and ‘80s tunes rolled over the hills felt like the icing on the cake of luck. (Just wait, “Cake of Luck” is going to sweep the interwebs. You’re welcome.)

Add to that a Deer Valley gourmet picnic basket, and it was, in fact, a turn-key, perfect date night. (I’ll leave out the part where Jeff had an unfortunate mishap with our crummy beach chairs—now crummy beach chair garbage—that left his fingers pinched.)

I had the odd discovery that Kansas formed its band the year I was born—and I wasn’t entirely sure how I was supposed to feel about that. Does that make me old? Them? Frankly, I didn’t want to think that hard. I did, of course, feel grateful for the well-researched Program the Utah Symphony publishes. I’ve always enjoyed the band’s hits—and wasn’t so familiar with the rest of their catalog. But, in truth, it didn’t matter. They played their hearts out for us—and the Symphony’s “warm up” set list was delightful, playful and, yes, gorgeously performed. (Indeed, Star Trek was involved. And, no, I did not wish to be beamed anywhere.)

You know how dedicated skiers are fond of saying, “There’s no such thing as a bad day on the mountain?” I think that should be extended to evenings, too. Yes, I’ve sat through a rainy night at the Symphony in the Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater—but I’ve never once regretted it. Did I mention the perfect weather? And, I felt just guilty enough that I saved the beautiful desserts to take home for the boys.

Summer Adventure Camp

We have had an incredibly busy schedule—keeping up with our kids’ schedules this summer. Park City is an embarrassment of riches in many areas, and kids’ summer camps are no exception.

Lance attended two separate weeks of camp at the Utah Olympic Park (UOP)—he tried what amounted to about a kajillion sports, including ski jumping into the Splash Pool, and—wait for it—luge. Gulp.

Also on the Menu O’ Fun this summer: skateboard camp, karate camps, and the delightfully injury-risk-free tie-dye camp and art camp. And, of course, they made time in their hectic schedules of fun, fun and more fun, to attend a couple of days at Deer Valley’s Summer Adventure Camp.

This is not to say the summer has been without challenges. At UOP, Lance had to face his fears before jumping into the pool—and we had to do some fleet-footed parenting work to get him to even try. But he did—and whether he ever takes up freestyle skiing in earnest is of no consequence. What he learned from the process of learning was invaluable.

Deer Valley Summer Adventure Camp was a great learning experience, too. For one thing, the kids got to go to the Utah Museum of Natural History on a field trip. It’s a beautifully designed facility, and every exhibit has interactive elements for visitors of all ages. The next day was “Silly Sloppy Science,” which found the kids using recycled material to build boats, making glop, and lots of other silly, science-y things.

And while there were lots of obvious learning experiences to be had in those days, we all learned a few nice life lessons in the balance. For instance, because the first day the kids attended camp was a field-trip day, there was a lot of hustle-and-bustle, and not a lot of get-to-know-you time. It was something I hadn’t considered when I signed them up—and something I’ll take into account in the future. Both boys greeted me with relief when I picked them up, and spent much of the evening telling us why they had not had fun at camp. Both asked if they had to go the next day.

“Yes,” I told them. “You are going to give this camp a second chance. You’ve never had a bad day at Deer Valley, and everyone’s entitled to a bad day.”

When we arrived at camp, the counselors seemed genuinely happy to see my boys, which was reassuring. Still, I took the opportunity to share the kids’ reports from the previous day. My goal was to give constructive feedback, and offer context that might be helpful to the counselors. It appeared to be received that way. Still, I mentioned it to the desk staff on my way out. Impressively, the woman I spoke with asked specific questions about what the kids hadn’t liked, what I’d found disappointing—and took notes. They also told me they appreciated my honest, constructive feedback. This thrilled me. My measure of good service isn’t a trouble-free experience, but how the team handles the situation once it’s been brought to light. By the time I left, I felt confident the kids would have a better day. The proof was in the pudding—we showed up early and had to bribe them away from the fabulous time they were having. Thank goodness for the frozen yogurt at Deer Valley, Etc.

‘Scaring off the Bears’- A Mom’s Hiking Survival Guide

Sometimes, you don’t know how much you don’t know … until your child asks you a question. Who’s with me? Can I get an A-Mom? (Yes, you may groan at my bad joke.)

Thankfully, the question Lance posed on a chairlift this summer (“How did the ski trails get their names?”) wasn’t the type to send me into Parent Panic Mode. And it’s not just because a good parent knows which friends are in her corner to help (though, truthfully, that’s a big, big part of my “not panic mode”.) Yes, I knew if I asked my friend Emily, she’d be able to answer the question, but I didn’t realize that she’d turn it into a fun mother-son bonding adventure, custom-built for Lance and me. That’s because I never realized that Deer Valley offers private, guided hikes all summer long.

Enter Howard. He’s been skiing in Park City since before the secret got out about, well, the awesomeness that is Park City skiing. He’s worked at Deer Valley as a mountain host for another whole bunch of years. Which is alarming when you consider that he’s only 25. I kid—he’s not 25. I won’t reveal his age, but as we learned on our hike, he’s already outlived many of the miners, who died young because of the nature of their work, and the quality of health care that was available to people in the 19th century. In Howard’s case—like that of many local residents—it’s easy to stay young and healthy if you work above ground and exercise as part of your job—or lifestyle, or both.

Now, I’ve hiked the Silver Lake trail more times than I can count. But never have I hiked it in such a well-guided, well-informed manner. Howard met us and presented options. We chose a chair lift ride up Sterling Express for a three-mile downhill that would have us crisscrossing some of our favorite ski runs. Like Homeward Bound and Ontario.

Lance’s questions—and some neither of us thought to ask—were answered in earnest by a charming, friendly, Howard. He pointed out the 360° views (including Heber City, the Jordanelle Reservoir, and the sweep that includes Park City and beyond to Wyoming from the top of Bald Mountain). We got to peek at the reservoir used to hold (and recycle) water for snowmaking. And…we found out that all the trails were named for mine claims. Well, all but a few—but I’ll leave it to you to guess which ones.

One of my favorite stories is about the Ontario Mine, which you can see from lots of different vantage points on the mountain. It’s particularly easy to view from, say, Viking chairlift on the way to Stein Eriksen Lodge. The original owners of the mine were, in fact, Canadian. Then, George Hearst purchased it. His son, William Randolph Hearst, ran it for a time, but wasn’t keen on mining—and he wound up taking over his father’s newspaper in California, the San Francisco Examiner. Fun fact: I worked for Hearst Publishing for a time—as the Entertainment Editor at Good Housekeeping Magazine. And I never realized that Park City and I had Hearst connections in common.

Of course, as with any family activity, there were parenting lessons to be had. Mind you, this was not our first hike together—and not our first “long” hike this year. Part of the third grade curriculum in Park City is a hiking and camping unit (yes, they clear out the desks from the classroom and hang out in tents for a few weeks), culminating in a hike at Red Butte Gardens in Salt Lake City (incidentally, it’s a great day-trip from Deer Valley). But at one point, a small hissy fit ensued, about three quarters of the way down Ontario.

“I can’t go another step! My feet won’t take me!” Poor kid was about to crumble.

I was about to give him a “dig deep” speech, worthy of the Olympics, when Howard announced we were within half a mile of the finish. Lance perked up, and we began to pick up our pace. A few minutes later, Lance offered this.

“You know, all that fuss before?” he began. “That wasn’t real. That was just a bunch of noise I was making to scare off bears.”

And, the belly laughs ensued.

Keep reading for Lance’s version of the hike…

I expected this hike to have fewer flies.

That’s the first thing I thought of as we started out on the trail at the top of Bald Mountain.

Seriously. BALD. Except for some flies.

Our guide, Howard, suggested that if we started moving, maybe the flies wouldn’t buzz. Or at least bother me less.

Howard was trying to tell me some interesting facts about the trail names, but I was more distracted by the flies.

My mom tried to distract me with snacks. She always has snacks. Once, she pulled a 2-foot long Laffy Taffy out of her tiny little pocketbook. But that’s a whole other story.

Along the trail, we found some animal habitats. We took guesses about whether they were many entrances to one animal’s home or lots of different animals’ homes, including a mansion for animals or a ski hut.

Howard filled me in on a lot of the different trail names. They are named after mine claims. I learned that naming a mine claim is the way that miners (a loooooooong time ago) let other people know it belonged to them.

My favorite trail name is Success—because the miners named it after what they hoped would happen to them when they searched for silver.

Did you know that Ontario is named because the miners who claimed it were Canadian, eh?

Howard showed us the Ontario Mine, which was the last running mine in Park City, and you can see it from lots of different places on the mountain at Deer Valley.

He also showed us pictures of the miners. They looked old—but Howard said they looked that way because they worked hard in dirt, dust and bad conditions. Back then, people didn’t live to be very old at all, but they definitely looked old in the picture.

Howard suggested that we go to the Park City Museum, because there is a big “Wall O’ Mine Claims” (I don’t think that’s the real name for it!) — it’s a map of town that shows all the names of every claim that existed.

I think that’s a really good idea. I went there on a field trip with school in second grade, and I really want to go back so I can learn more about the mines.

If you are thinking about hiking at Deer Valley, I think you should ask if Howard can be your guide–he’s very nice, and he knows a lot. And if you see me skiing with my family this winter, you can stop me and ask me questions about the mines and the trail names, and I’ll tell you what I remember!

Mountain Biking Mama

I’ve often said I have a lot of respect for skiers who take up the sport as adults. It takes a certain amount of courage, to say the least. I have a hunch that I’ve learned exactly how much courage that is—because on a recent day in Deer Valley, I began to conquer my fear of riding my bicycle downhill.

Mountain biking (and I’m sure the same is true for road cycling—I just haven’t tried it yet) is as much of a head-game as skiing. For me, it’s more, I think—in part because I’m learning as an adult. I wore my first pair of skis at age 3, and began weekly lessons at 6, so skiing is as natural to me as walking—and at least 10 times more fun. Logically, I know I can handle just about anything on a bike—I’m physically fit—well for a normal person, not a competitive athlete (I have to remind myself, because living in Park City it’s easy to take your decent fitness level for granted when you’re surrounded as we are by elite athletes). I’m up for challenges. I understand the mechanics of the sport. My psyche, however, disagrees. And, frankly, I’m sick of hearing second-hand about how great my husband’s mountain bike rides were. Or weren’t. Even a bad ride is brag-worthy, at least in my house. And I’m done with feeling left out.

Thankfully, there is Jeff. Not, mind you, my wonderful husband Jeff. For whom I am always thankful. But Jeff the Awesome, Patient and Kind Mountain Biking Coach. I am sure his official Deer Valley title is something more like Mountain Bike Guide or Instructor or whatever it is that doesn’t describe him well enough.

So, Coach Jeff took me to Lot 3—that’s right, to the parking lot. Little known fact: There are mountain bike practice features at the back of Lot 3. We ran through some basics, and I was proud to have arrived with A-plus skills in braking appropriately (right brake first then add left, or equal pressure to both); creating a “platform” by bringing both pedals parallel to the ground, and standing on them as I bring my tush back behind my bike seat. (I’m sure it looks even sillier than it sounds, but believe me, it creates the most control over the bike.)

Then came the frustrating part—as much as I knew I could take a gentle downhill turn—KNEW IT—I couldn’t get my brain to let me. After MUCH unprintable sputtering from me, Coach Jeff took control of the moment.

“We’re going to change things up,” he said. “No use having you frustrated.”

What he meant was: After one more quick test on the practice track, he was taking me up Silver Lake Express chairlift to ride down the mountain on a trail called Tour De Homes. I gulped only a little as I noticed the trail marker bore the international symbol for “Intermediate”—the telling blue square. Um, ok. I guess I’m ready, I thought.

“You will gain confidence as we ride. You’ll see. It will be fun,” he said. “I promise.”

Ok, he was right. I walked a fair amount–but I have decided that there’s no shame in walking where you’re completely out of your depth as a rider. It’s called SELF PRESERVATION, people. And I had two kids at Deer Valley Summer Adventure Camp who were expecting to see their mom at 5 p.m. pickup. So, I walked some. But, mostly, I rode. I rode down slopes I didn’t think I could. I looked ahead and not down, not at obstacles, but rather at the path I wanted to follow. Just like in skiing, if you don’t want to ride into the tree, for heaven’s sake, DO NOT LOOK AT THE TREE.

In point of fact, I looked at Coach Jeff’s awesome day-glo biking socks, which were a great focal point.

I am going to have to learn to talk less when I ride—because every time I called out “I’m doing this!!!!” on something more technical than I’d been able to handle only minutes earlier—I lost it. LOST.

Tour De Homes, by the way, is a great hiking or biking trail. It starts behind Last Chance on a private ski run, and winds around until you actually come out onto Last Chance, just below the “Bear House.” We rode some single track through the meadow at the bottom of Last Chance, taking a moment to appreciate, mutually, how much we love skiing Dew Drop, and then worked our way down Rosebud, across some more single track beneath Solid Muldoon, Champion and Big Stick, and into the trees next to the Burns Lift. This was, by far the smoothest, prettiest part of the ride. The trail itself is tree-lined and did I mention…smooth? I even took the steep part back to Wide West with some middling success. Enough that Coach Jeff said, “You know, that was steeper than the part you walked at the trail head?”

And, yes, I flew down the Carpenter road—faster than a person is allowed to take it on skis, in fact. Speed, it turns out, is a good acquaintance. We’re working our way up to a friendship. Coach Jeff, though, whether he likes it or not, is a brand-new friend.

Park City Date Night

I got my first sunburn in Park City on a date night with my husband, the first Wednesday we lived here, in 2001. Yes, I said a sunburn, at night. It was my first glimpse that life at 7,500 feet was going to be even more of a change than I had expected.

By now, I’m a pro. So when I headed out for date night with Jeff last Saturday night to Royal Street Café’s table at Savor The Summit, I was prepared. To wit: in addition to a cute dress and lipgloss, I did a generous application of sunscreen, and made sure I had a cute hat for the occasion—thank you, gold, sparkly cowgirl chapeau—and big, glam shades.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Savor The Summit, you see, is a dinner party for the whole town. Restaurants set up long tables that span the length of Main Street, with a band rocking out at Miner’s Plaza, across from Cows.

And, because of the “mixer” style of the evening, there’s a chance you’ll get to spend time with new friends amidst the many familiar faces. Which is, I’m happy to report, exactly what happened to us. We not only enjoyed Deer Valley’s newest cocktails, Flower and Pine and Rosemary Radler, mixed and served by the resort’s award-winning mixologist, Bonnie Ulmer, but we got to indulge in some fun new preparations of Royal Street Café culinary faves—gazpacho shooters? Yes, please. Crawfish Bisque? But, of course. Ahi Tostada? Yummmm.

I’m proud to say, our table was an enthusiastic participant in the street-long “wave” that happened several times during the evening—and, because I’m competitive in all things, I made sure to give a friendly chide, via Tweet, to the adjacent table of Chimayo diners, whose “wave” was, to my expert eye, a bit, ahem, lackluster. We can’t all be awesome, though, can we?

Thrillingly, the evening has had many, wonderful, summery social aftershocks. I swiftly planned a walk with my friend Leslie Thatcher, KPCW’s news director, who’s still rehabbing her knee after surgery, and a “rookie” bike ride with Park City Magazine Editor Kristen Case—because, yes, eleven years in, I’m still a beginner. I’ll report back on the success of these and other summer adventures. For now, I’ll leave you with this very strong suggestion for your summer vacation planning: Save the date for Savor the Summit 2013.

Biking is for the Whole Family

Spring came early to Park City—in a town where odds run high for snow on graduation day, it can be confusing to be able to play outside like it’s Summer in April or May. But, friends, we’re muddling through, somehow. What with all the Chamber of Commerce weather, and the fact that my kids look at bike time as cross-training for skiing (Opening Weekend), this is bound to be the summer that improves our skiing by leaps and bounds.

In fact, it didn’t take long for us to get rolling in summer mode in our house. Seth, our newly-minted five year-old, with his newly-missing two bottom teeth, has determined that this summer’s theme is “Two Wheels or Bust!” It didn’t take much—just like when he wanted to learn to ski, he saw big brother do it, and that, friends, was that (Secrets to Success). We started offering various tips on technique, offered to put a broomstick in the well under his seat so we could help him balance, suggested he use his feet to push and glide off the ground while he got the feel for it. And, in typical Seth fashion, he looked at us and said, “Why don’t I just ride?”

So, he did. Here’s the footage

The next thing I knew, Jeff was in the garage, finding the pedals to put on his own bike. Poor guy had been so busy in the last few years, the only time his bike got to roll on the trails around here was when our friend Cheo came for visits and borrowed the bike (he’s a BYOPedal kinda guy). Now, though, the kids were on a roll, and Jeff was not going to miss out.

So, with images of family bike rides dancing in our heads, we hauled Lance’s first mountain bike with gears into Jans for a tune-up (it was a hand-me-down from friends), and took mine there for good measure. While we were there, Jeff noticed some shiny new objects—and started chatting with Stephanie, one of the expert bike fitters. Before long, she had Jeff set up on demos, and he was tooling around the neighborhood, trying to choose a new bike. I won’t bore you with the list of complaints he has for his old mountain bike. We think of it as Cheo’s bike, anyway, and now this will allow the two of them to go on rides together when he’s in town…but I digress.

I owe Stephanie, Marty, and the team at Jans a debt of gratitude for helping Jeff find a new bike. First, she took the guesswork out of what gift to give my husband for our 17th wedding anniversary this month. Yes, friends, in case you were wondering, the official gift for 17th anniversary is One Sweet Ride. Second, she singlehandedly helped reconnect my guy, who raced bikes in high school, with a lifelong passion—that’s going to help push his healthy lifestyle agenda to the next level. Also, they helped me entertain my kids during the whole bike demo process, allowing many pairs of shoes to be tried on, and selling us a couple of bags of candy, to boot. As in winter, I’m not above bribing with candy. [Upping the Ante on Bribes]

After all was said and done, I was inspired to get my like-new (as in gently used, because I bought it eleven years ago and have ridden just a handful of times) bike into the shop for a tune-up.

Some people in my house have described me as a reluctant biker—I’m not. I swear. I really, really WANT to bike. But I’ve never been a confident biker, which makes it hard to just get out and ride. When I first bought my bike, I took advantage of the variety of free, guided rides available to all levels of bikers through Jans and White Pine—some are even women-only. Somehow, though, once the boys were born, I couldn’t make the time for those rides. No, boys, I’m not blaming you. In recent years,  I promised my pal Emily that I would take some mountain biking lessons at Deer Valley—but other things took precedence.

Now, though, the same thing that motivated me to up my game on the snow has been brought to bear for biking; I will not be left behind by my family. So: First things first, I’m going to start riding on the flat trails around town. Next, I’ll join some of those evening rides at White Pine and Jans. And, because my kids are going to check out some Deer Valley Summer Camps, I’m going to book myself a mountain biking lesson on the mountain, too.

Let the games begin!

No Regrets

As Spring Break approached last week, I started to wonder if we should have planned a trip–an exotic getaway or quick Moab weekend. Then, I remembered:

One great advantage of living in Park City is the Spring Break Staycation. The chance to hang around town with few obligations. The chance to try a couple of Spring Break Camps.

By mid-week, there was the promise of snow. Today, the ski report delivered. My kids lounged around the house until 9:30 this morning, until I cajoled them into ski boots. They were dubious: the rainy weather at our house didn’t look promising. The payoff for their minor “risk” was quick: just as we turned into Deer Valley Drive, the rain turned to snow…snow-globe-worthy flakes.

In minutes, we were making fresh tracks (really! At 10am!) and my guys volunteered  that they had two regrets:

Seth: “It’s too bad Dad had to work, he would have had fun!”

Lance: “I’m sorry I gave you a hard time about skiing, Mom. That wasn’t nice & this is really fun!”

As for me? No regrets!
How about you?

Check out Deer Valley’s webcams.

My NEW Deer Valley

I’ve spent a lot of time this season interviewing DV employees about their Deer Valley—and I have to admit, a lot of their picks sounded exotic to me. They named gladded runs and bowls that I’d either seen only from a chairlift or only heard about. And then I went to Women’s Weekend—and I spent three days on terrain I’d always assumed was there for other people.

Turns out, it’s there for me. And a few hundred other people—but hardly any of them were in evidence on the trails we skied. It was kind of incredible to note that while there were plenty of people on the most popular groomed runs (admittedly, the same runs where I spend the majority of my ski days), the bumps and trees seemed to be ours alone. At one point, I said to my fellow students, “Isn’t it empowering to have the keys to this place?” It felt, for the most part, like we had the mountain to ourselves. I loved it. You might, too.

Herewith, my ode to the trees and bumps—of MY Deer Valley. Yep, I’m willing to share.

Little Bell these are my favorite warm-up bumps. It’s short, sweet and not too steep. So you can do some turns and then peel out into Solid Muldoon, cut over to Success and then keep an eye out for…

White Owl, which is home to World Cup Aerials events. Those scary-high jumps are off limits to the general public, but the bumps that run above them is a fun challenge. You can find a line (most likely: skier’s right) that isn’t too deeply rutted, and will allow you plenty of room to find your turns. Take a hard right out onto the bottom of Solid Muldoon, and you’re golden to hop on Carpenter to scoot down Silver Link, across the beach at Silver Lake Lodge to Sterling lift.

Emerald I must have skied past this run hundreds of times in the past eleven winters. Once in a blue moon, I’d spy someone possessed of more skills (or confidence) than myself making turns into this bowl that is found skier’s left at the top of Birdseye. Now, it’s got to be one of my favorite runs. The top is steep, but it mellows out fairly quickly. There’s plenty of room to “shop for turns,” among the bumps, and then you have your choice of widely-spaced Aspen glades where, yes, there is some powder (or yummy crud) to enjoy.

Tons of glades (with powder stashes) can be found on this run. Just look for your opening and go for it.

Three Ply, I like to access it from the trees on skier’s left, just below the first steep stretch at the top of Hidden Treasure, because you don’t have to do the very top, but it still allows plenty of length to get your groove on in the bumps.

Guardsman Glade is one area I had spied for years from my perch on Ruby Express, only to wonder who on earth would ski in there. Guess what? I do!

Anchor Trees this was love at first sight when Letitia introduced me to it last year. I never get tired of it. There are lots of ways to enter, and the glades are widely-cut enough that you have your choice of turns.

Finally, X-Files. Stay tuned for my ode to this run that makes hiking worth it.

View Deer Valley’s Trail Map here!