Snowshoeing to Fireside Dining

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As this winter season ended, we wanted to try one more great snow activity: a snowshoe tour at dusk just before a delightful dinner at Fireside Dining at Empire Canyon Lodge! Marrying these two activities is almost like taking a trip through nature that miraculously leads directly to some old-world mountain setting.

Because of the changing snow density, spring season snowshoeing always entails more workout than during mid-winter and after a strenuous trek all the way to the bottom of the Daly Chutes, we returned to the Empire Lodge where a true “mountain feast” was awaiting us at Fireside. I have a soft spot for Raclette and took full advantage of this high-energy, Swiss delicacy while reminiscing the good old days when I still was living in the Alps.

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After one generous serving of Raclette and its delectable accompaniments, the beef medallions was definitely my favorite main entree, along with a nice serving of “haricots verts” (these fine French green beans, sauteed the Gallic way…) This wonderful dinner was crowned by some tantalizing desserts inundated with melted caramel, white and black chocolate. These wonderful dishes made us forget the effort we had just produced while strapped to our snowshoes and almost succeeded in restoring us to full strength, ready for another round of snowshoeing under a moonlit sky!

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That first – and only – snowshoe tour of the day was led by Justin, who works for All Seasons Adventure, Dear Valley’s on-site, independent activity provider. Before dinner, I spent a few moments chatting with Justin and here’s what he had to share about snowshoeing at Deer Valley Resort.

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How long have been guiding snowshoeing tours?

I’ve been guiding for 4 1/2 years, snow-shoeing the whole time and guiding in a number of other activities.

What kind of special skills – if any – are required to snowshoe?

Nothing in particular; just go out and do it. We cater to any fitness and skill levels. From beginners to the most advanced and ambitious snowshoers.

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What’s a good time to go snowshoeing?

You can do it during the day, morning, afternoon, dusk or evening, by star-light. We can organize a dinner snowshoe like tonight at Fireside, or hike over to Silver Lake Lodge and go to the Mariposa, Royal Street Cafe, Glittertind or Goldener Hirsch.

Do you provide lights for these evening outings?

We do. A lot of time we don’t need them, as the moonlight or even starlight is usually sufficient, but we have lights in case there’s some cloud cover.

What happens if your guests are into stargazing or astronomy?

We actually have a device that you can point at the stars and that uses a laser and GPS locator which can tell you what star you are looking at.

How long does a typical snowshoe tour last?

Usually one hour and forty-five minutes to two hours, but we can do them as brief as 45 minutes or as long as four hours.

Can guests cancel the outing when snow is falling hard and there’s too much snow?

If it’s snowing, it’s generally a wonderful time to be out snowshoeing. If the snow fall is significant, we make sure our guide stays ahead of the participants to pack down the snow. If the weather is simply too harsh, the outing maybe canceled and there’s no-cancellation fee to the guest.

Where are you taking your guests?

It depends a lot on what they like. Often times the trails are through the trees but we can go off-trail, through powder or just stay on the packed trails. A lot of our trails offer a wonderful diversity, so we’ll just pick an itinerary based upon our guests’ needs and desires. Our main concern is to keep everyone safe within the constraints of avalanche conditions…

Is snowshoeing a family activity?

Absolutely! Younger kids may have a harder time with it, but it works perfectly for anyone from about six or seven years old up until … indefinitely. We have had octogenarians take a tour with us!

Do you have gear to fit everyone?

Yes, we offer a full range of sizes in snowshoes and poles.

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How should people dress?

We normally recommend that people wear snow-pants, dress in layers on top, have sunglasses, gloves, a hat and wear sunscreen on sunny days. We can provide over-boots which are like a Cordura gaiter that cover the whole foot in the case guests don’t have good shoes and can cover their tennis shoes to keep their feet dry.

How long in advance do we have to book a tour?

During the busy season, like Christmas, Sundance Film Festival, Presidents’ Day week-end, 48-hours in advance is recommended. Other times, we can get people out with just two or three hours notice!

Can special event be combined with your snowshoe tours?

Definitely. We can cater to our guest’s needs to create a custom tour however they’d like it. We’ve done anything from a 50 year old birthday party to even marriage proposals; you name it!

How can we reach you and where are you located at Deer Valley Resort?

We have a desk at the Snow Park Lodge that is staffed from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. everyday during the ski season. If you need to contact us on the web our address is allseasonsadventures.com or you can reach us by phone at 435-649-9619.
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**Snowshoe tours and Fireside Dining will start again in December 2013. Please call to make reservations after Labor Day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Holiday Traditions

As we are originally from the French Alps, our “family holiday celebrations’ differ in some subtle ways with mainstream American traditions. Yet over the years, we have weaved them with the local customs and today we have something quite unique, very healthy and fun!

Typically, French folks are more New Year-centric than Christmas-oriented; as a result, New Year’s celebrations are a much bigger deal; as an example in the old country, Happy New Year wishes can last the whole month of January and most people would feel slighted if you forgot to present your very best wishes to them. With these notes of caution in mind, I will attempt to explain how the Holiday Season typically unfolds for us…

Because of my upbringing, of my entire career and my playful retirement years, skiing occupies the centerpiece of our Holiday Season. Even though we can ski all winter long, we make sure to come out and mark this celebratory period by leaving our own ski prints on the local slopes; some might call them “garlands,” but to us, they are always very serious tracks!

During the past five years, our daughter Charlotte, who lived in California for many years, was in the midst of this Holiday fun. She could almost come on the spur of the moment and be with us after a short, ninety-minute flight. However, things have changed; after taking a new position in our Nation’s Capital, in early November; she had not accrued enough vacation time to make the visit all the way to Utah worth her while. This will have to wait until next winter season.

Luckily, our son Thomas, his wife Juliette and our grandson Finn live nearby in Salt Lake City and were present the Sunday before Christmas to mark their return to the slopes. This day, as it often does, concluded with a wonderful Raclette meal, similar to the delicious dish available at the Fireside Dining in the Empire Canyon Lodge at Deer Valley.

We do Raclette, because it is a hearty meal, perfect for winter, and our son and his wife are vegetarians. Now, I will have to digress and explain once and for all what that delicious food is all about. That alpine specialty goes back a very long way; it was already mentioned in some medieval writings as a particularly nutritious dish consumed by peasants living in the mountains of Valais, a French-speaking canton of Switzerland, as well as their French counterparts living on the other side of the Alpine divide, where I hail from.

The name itself comes from the French verb “racler” which mean “to scrape.” In that case, it is cheese that is been scraped from the open surface of an eighteen-inch, half-wheel of Raclette cheese, which open surface is heated until it almost flows into your plate when scraped down with a knife. Now, you can understand why most of our family entertainment revolves around a wheel of Raclette cheese…

This vital detail leads us to Christmas Eve, that took us to the Salt Lake Valley were a wonderful dinner and present unwrapping took place, and the event revolved around our four-year old grandson. The excitement was palpable and the spurs of joy endless, as the many presents got unwrapped… This year, a perfectly timed snow storm made for driving down to the Valley a bit more interesting, keeping me perfectly focused on the road.

I must confess that my wife and I didn’t have the fortitude to wait until Christmas Eve for opening our own presents. We were a bit concerned about the upcoming roll-over of the ancient Mayan calendar on December 21, and didn’t want to take any chances, so our own presents have been put to good use since the beginning of the month. Let’s call our singular practice a “test,” just to make sure that we had the right presents from the get go…

This said, on Christmas Eve, I received a special present from my son that has to do with DNA and will finally tell me where I come from (besides France) once it has been analyzed by some Silicon Valley laboratory. The rest of the evening was spent watching our grandson responding to his new toys and playing with most of them.

After December 25, we got a short reprieve during which there is always more skiing, additional great snow (another Deer Valley Holiday tradition), there are a few parties, here and there, but far less than when I used to be professionally active, and there is barely any room for celebrating my birthday sandwiched somewhere between Christmas and the New Year, just before we tip into a brand new year.

On New Year’s Eve, we may go bowling with my son and his family, watch the ball fall in Times Square and go to bed early so we can go skiing on New Year’s morning… Granted, there’s always room for a fine meal and a delightful sip of Champagne…

By the time 2013 rolls over, we’ll have long been “party-exhausted” and won’t have much energy left for celebration. It will then be time for some serious work; our winter ski season will finally begin in earnest!