Slow lifts: Endangered Species?

Not so long ago, most ski lifts were slow. They provided us with a chance to catch up, regroup, think about our technique, rest our legs and even munch on a sandwich or a bar. They also gave us a chance to talk. Talk about anything: from views, to snow quality, to weather, good restaurants or cool equipment; the list could go on forever… In those days, even though chairlifts could be painfully slow, we got to the top without realizing we had spent fifteen solid minutes hanging up in the air.

We had to wait until 1981 to see the first ever, high speed detachable quad in the world, installed in the Rocky Mountains. Since then, that precious “chair-time” has been rapidly eroding; at the best American resorts, high-speed chairlift are becoming the norm. Next winter, what used to be the perfect illustration for today’s subject, the Deer Crest chairlift, will undergo a total metamorphosis and in the process, will shed its fixed grips, its slow, easy pace, for a brand new detachable design that will whisk skiers, in less than half the time taken previously, to the top of the Jordanelle Gondola. In the process, it will also get rechristened “Mountaineer Express.”

Back in February of 2010, I wrote a blog about chairlift stories, set back in a time where most chairlifts hanged to a fixed grip, moved up much more slowly and were the perfect place for telling, trading or making stories, as long as the company was receptive and the weather wasn’t extreme. Of course, things have changed a great deal with the spread of portable music players and the proliferation of smart phones. Now, a short life ride is all the time one needs for checking emails, tweeting or responding to a Facebook post. What I’m trying to say is that today, chairlifts have become more an opportunity to catch up on-line than striking a long and profound conversation. From that viewpoint, the demise of the slower lift might accompany the end of endless chat aloft. So much for long conversations or even for a quick lunch up in the air (Deer Valley restaurants are a much better culinary alternative anyway!)

And with the switch to faster ski-lifts what about our own, tired legs. I can think of many time when finally sitting down while riding up the mountain was a welcome relief! One might argue that nowadays skiers are much more fit and don’t generally look for the “rest” provided by a slow moving seat. I would add that with so many new spas available in and around Deer Valley, soothing options are today more easily available and have become so common-place that a tired pair of legs can soon be pampered and repaired into peak shape after a solid day of hard skiing.  On the flip side, one aspect no one will miss with detachable chairlifts is the “bump” in the back of our calves that could be common place if we didn’t pay attention or if the lift attendants weren’t so kind to be holding (or bumping) the chair for us.

This creature-of-comfort consideration also brings up my last argument: Today, with much faster ski-lifts, the same amount of skiing that used to take an entire day, can be compressed into half that time thanks to these express chairlifts and there’s now more time for enjoying all the extra resort activities that have sprouted in recent years. We all know that multitasking doesn’t work too well, so why not ski more intensely for fewer hours on these state-of-the-art lifts and use up the extra time for a longer and much more civilized lunch break, some early après-ski, a shopping spree, a spa session or for discovering snowmobiling or a hike in snowshoes?

So, well before the last slow chairlift is slated for demolition, Deer Valley Resort recognizes that some chairlifts should, for the time being, remain in the slow lane if you need to share very long stories or if you want to relax your legs for more than just six or eight minutes. I’m not talking about the few beginner lifts that are found on Wide West or the short connecting chairlifts that are spread all over the mountain, but bigger lifts like Mayflower or Red Cloud. They both run in parallel with a much faster chairlift and will also get you to the top, giving you much more time to catch your breath, enjoy the vistas and smell the snowflakes!

Of course, if that story has made you really nostalgic about slow chairlifts and you can’t wait until this winter to experience these slow, classic machines, now is the time to jump on any of Deer Valley’s express chairlifts when they’re running at low speed during the summer season to accommodate mountain bikers and pedestrians; that way you’ll be able to fully enjoy the ride, marvel at the scenery and trade some really good stories, but don’t delay, summer will soon be over!

Magic in the Air – Park City Fourth of July Parade

When the Quail Fire bathed Park City in smoke and ash on July 3rd and fireworks shows in Summit County were cancelled, I wondered if it would put a damper on the Park City Fourth of July Parade.  With news that the residents in Alpine were safe as firefighters contained the fire, and the smokey skies quickly cleared, it turns out that was not a problem!

We decided to take public transportation to the parade but as we waited at the bus stop, a rust colored Jeep carrying two ladies pulled up. Our neighbor and her friend offered us a ride and  it didn’t take us long to jump in the backseat. Now I can cross “riding in an open Jeep with the wind in my hair” off my bucket list!

Our ride dropped us off near the Miners Hospital in City Park (close to the BBQ) and the parade end. The parade route was packed even though we got there an hour and a half early. The shady spot we found on the grass was about four rows deep.  Walking up the street, I was excited to see parties on every porch and every  spot on the curb taken by eager onlookers waiting for the parade to start.  No worries about lack of participation this year. 

Who gets an F-16 fly over from Hill Air Force Base at their hometown parade? We did and the crowd went crazy.  The fly over signaled the start and before long we were enjoying marching bands, parade waves from classy cars, a parrot riding on the handle bars of an 1890′s bicycle, karate kids executing spin kicks, horse drawn wagons, mariachis, and float after float. We overheard people excitedly announcing the upcoming floats, “Hey there’s …. Deer Valley…. Skull Candy…. US Ski Team…. Park City Luge Team…Montage… Park Silly Market, etc”

After the parade, we headed to the BBQ at City Park, shared a table and ate pulled pork sandwiches and cole slaw while listening to the band. Someone from Frontier Bank inflated a beach ball and got the crowd going as the ball bounced from the dancers  back and forth to the picnickers providing additional entertainment for everyone.  I only observed one casualty – a lone beer spilled in the process.

Maybe it was the shared experience of the fire threat the day  before that set the tone but I noticed something different – everyone seemed  friendlier.  It could be that it was always that way but I was just paying more attention this year because I live here now.  I don’t know. I have to believe there something magical was in the air.

Think about this. Just when Park City needed it the most, it rained.  Did it rain on July 4th?  No.  After record setting consecutive days of no measurable precipitation, it rained on July 5th. It was just enough rain to perk up the grasses to give them their lush green color (hence the name Park City) and just  enough rain to ensure the Quail Fire was thoroughly doused and no longer posing a threat to our precious town and our neighbors on the other side of the mountain.

But did it rain on our parade?  No.  Of course not.

Magical, isn’t it?

How We Burned 900 Calories During a History Lesson – Historical Hike at Deer Valley

Going on Deer Valley’s guided historical hike with mountain host Michael O’Malley was a great experience! In my last post, I shared a little of the history he taught us and a lot about the host himself.  There are a few more things you might want to know, however.  Here you go:

Photo By T.J. Lenahan

We gathered at Sterling Express Lift and then hiked on a narrow trail through two amazingly beautiful aspen groves.  Just when I started to notice my heart pounding and lungs burning, we stopped for a mining history lesson and a chance to catch our breath.   I  listened intently as  Michael explained there were literally a thousand mining tunnels beneath us. He passed around black and white photos of how Deer Valley looked during those mining days. Guess what? Silver Lake was actually a lake at one time! I did not know that. I always wondered…

Wildlife was everywhere.  We spotted two mule deer does on the hillside across from our trail.  Then a few minutes later we saw three elk cows in the same area.  They slowly came  into a clearing and then moved past. I had never seen an elk, much less three and so close. Magical.

We also met some interesting people – there was a mix of locals and out-of-towners which included some hard core hikers who you’d want to saddle up to in a windstorm or if you were hungry – they had all kinds of supplies in their packs. One guy had bear repellant spray which of course we didn’t need but would come in handy in a variety of circumstances.  We met a mountain bike instructor, a tourist from San Francisco, a family from Connecticut and Jennifer the helpful mountain host.

Photo By T.J. Lenahan

When we regrouped at the end, my friend informed me we hiked 5.5 miles in 3.5 hours to an elevation of 9100 ft. which was about a 1000 ft. climb.  She wore her heart rate monitor the whole time and told me that we had burned 900 calories and the guys had burned 1600.   What?  Are you kidding me? I was having such a good time, I never noticed that we were working out.  Do you know how hard it is to burn 900 calories? In case you don’t know, here are some examples:

Two hours on the rowing machine burns about 900 calories. I love the rowing machine but I am seriously bored to death after 20 minutes.

About two  hours on a treadmill burns 900 calories — utter torture.  Will never happen in my lifetime.

Five hours of yoga burns about 900 calories – I did a class once called Yin Yoga where you twist into a pretzel and then the instructor tells you to relax into the pose (really?) and you stay in that position for like 20 minutes or so to release the tension.  Push ups are easier than that. Seriously.

Photo By T.J. Lenahan

An hour and a half of cardio boxing burns 900 calories- I actually took a cardio boxing class at my gym a couple of months ago. Don’t ask me why I thought I was in good enough shape to take this class.  I made it through the class but when I got home, I couldn’t lift my arms even to feed myself and believe me I was starving.  Two days later the real pain hit. Every  muscle in my torso and upper body felt like it was being attacked by ice picks. A friend of mine who boxes told me to go back right away and work through it. Right.

So imagine my surprise that hiking in the most beautiful place in the world, learning all kinds of interesting history, meeting some really cool people, and seeing majestic animals burned up a boatload of calories …. with out feeling the burn.  Somehow it feels like everything is right with the universe. The historical hike is one experience I definitely plan on repeating.

Deer Valley Historical Hike With Michael O’Malley

Who knew that the popular beginner run, Ontario, was named after the deepest and most prolific mine in Park City (and last to close in 1981) not a province in Canada?  Who knew that Flagstaff mountain was not named after a city in Arizona but after a mining claim from three soldiers at Ft. Douglas- a pine bough stuck in the ground with a bandana tied around it?    Well everyone who took the Deer Valley guided historical hike, that’s who.  My husband, Jay and I met the group of hikers at the base of the Sterling Express Lift at the Silver Lake Lodge to join the hike led by Deer Valley mountain host, Michael O’Malley.

Photo By T.J. Lenahan

After our first history lesson and introductions all around, we grabbed some ski poles to use as walking sticks and headed up the trail —at a brisk pace I might add.  I was a little nervous that this group would leave me in the dust but I found out later our leader was doing a “level check” to see how we stayed together.  Michael said he starts out with a “New York attitude” to gauge the group and sets his pace accordingly. I guess we all possessed some of that attitude because we ended up staying together as a group really well (probably helped by a couple from Long Island on their first visit to Deer Valley.)

Michael has been leading the Deer Valley Historical Hikes, which are free to the public, for about four years now. He shared a bit about his experience with me:

Photo by T.J. Lenahan

How did you get started as a historical tour guide?

I have to blame the women in my life!  I got volunteered.  More than 10 years ago my wife volunteered me to help Hal Compton, resident historian with the Park City Museum,  http://www.parkcityhistory.org/   for a season when he injured his shoulder. I’ve been doing it ever since.  I model my tours after Hal’s.  He is 83 years old now and still leads great tours.

Then four years ago, I got volunteered again! Jennifer Franklin with Deer Valley mountain hosts who serves on the Park City Recreation Advisory board volunteered me when the board wanted to offer free public hikes. So here I am.

What is your favorite history tidbit?

One of the most common questions I get is, “Do they still mine in Park City?” The answer is –yes! but it is not what you think. The mine shafts are drain tunnels that carry water to treatment facilities at the Jordenelle which produce the “new silver” —  water.

The route we took through the aspen groves and then on the ridge was beautiful  - is that the route you always take?

We actually have several routes — well a half dozen — we choose them based on the weather conditions.  Last year the route we just took had snow on it.  A couple of the guides and I go out the day before to check the trail conditions. Changing keeps it interesting, too. Besides we have a group of regulars (“repeat offenders” as Michael calls them) so we like to mix it up.

Which hike is your favorite?

I like hiking Guardsman’s pass past the Xfiles to the Daily chute.  It is a beautiful and peaceful hike.

What is your favorite season for hiking?

The second week in October is really great. Last year the foliage was amazing with the deep red and bright yellow colors. It is also cooler then and we don’t encounter as many mountain bikers which opens up more possibilities for the group hike.

Favorite thing about being a host?

I really enjoy showing the out-of-towners our mountain but I really love to hear when a local takes a hike and says, “I never knew that!”

Fun mining fact?

Michael showed us an “adit” then he laughingly said if you ever need a four letter word for entrance to mine shaft in the New York Times Crossword, you have it now.

We learned a lot, saw beautiful vistas and got some great exercise.  I will now look at the mountain as more than simply nature’s playground to enjoy but with a new depth that knowing the history provides.  Historical hikes are the second Sunday of the month until October 14th.  Here is a link for more information.

If you want to enjoy the beauty but don’t feel like hiking up, pick up a ticket and ride the chairlift to Bald Mountain – ride down or hike down.  We love to enjoy lunch on the deck of the Royal Street Cafe at Silver Lake Lodge afterwards — open for lunch from 11:30 to 2:30 between June 15th and Labor Day.

The Modern Mountain Man (and Woman)

Since I was born, raised and have spent most of my life in the mountains, I tend to consider myself as a true “mountain man.” Of course, my own definition doesn’t necessarily fall into the accepted view most of us have of the traditional “mountain man.”  It means more of a “mountain dweller” than the quintessential trapper and other explorer that used to roam the Rocky Mountains and might still be encountered at certain summer “Rendezvous’.” Since I’m also from French extraction, if you found me at one of these events, you might easily mistake me for these rugged characters if I donned a different garb and sported a few grizzly teeth around my neck, but that’s not quite my style, at least, for the foreseeable future!

So my definition of what makes a mountain man and woman is a far cry from that early frontier day’s image, and is in fact defined by the love some of us have for living near the summits and for building our daily lives or our recreation around them. I simply would like to talk about those of us, mountain women and men, who love elevated living and always get more excited when we’re in the midst of jagged peaks than strolling on New York’s Fifth Avenue or facing a tropical sunset, far away in some South Pacific paradise.

This new breed of “mountain people” love to ski in winter, whether it’s alpine, telemark or cross-country, can on occasion step on a pair of snow shoes or just enjoy a stimulating morning run in the snow. These same individuals are also highly adaptable; they can switch gear within weeks and go from skiing to fly-fishing or even mountain biking, as soon as the trails are dry enough and passable. Endless trail running is also part of the choices mountain dwellers make and their stealthy travels take them where wildlife hides, where deer and moose are totally at home, marmots lay in the sun and cougars watch from behind some aspen grove.

They’re rugged individuals who can also hike long distances, scramble towards forbidding summits and climb vertical cliffs when they’ve made up their mind to reach over them. On occasions, they’ll explore distant valleys on horseback or run down a river with friends. I’m not a hunter, so I can’t speak for those we see in the fall with gun or cross-bow in hand, but I’m a bit closer to those who never miss a sunset on a stormy day, can catch an Osprey in flight or surprise a heard of elks with their camera.

The luckiest of these modern mountain people work in the mountains and usually don’t even realize how fortunate they are; others still have to compromise between making a living in some city and escaping to the mountains whenever they get a chance. They belong to the mountain environment and they love it. They look at the clouds and guess tomorrow’s weather; sport goggle and sun-glass tans year-round, stay connected with their surroundings and become almost part of the scenery. They respect the natural elements, they know that nature is the ultimate boss and see in it a yardstick to measure their strength, their determination and their endurance.

In many ways, they are as fierce and independent as the first “mountain men” used to be and are one-hundred percent in tune with their surroundings. The only difference, in my opinion, is that their life is far less dangerous and that they’ve found many more ways to extract raw fun out of their mountain lifestyle!

Final Notes on Another Great Ski Season

Once more and just like last year, Deer Valley Resort made it to its last day with flying colors!  On closing weekend, the mountain was dressed up into an immaculate coat of white; in fact it had been snowing almost all week long, ending the winter season, just like the previous ones, on the highest possible note.

It’s quite fair to say that Mother Nature didn’t do much to help during the peak winter months, as if she were avariciously hording snow for some unknown purpose, but the Deer Valley’s snow-making crews came to the rescue and more than compensated for a lackluster snow-year and sparse precipitations.

(Photo by Daniel Diyanni)

All along, I never held great expectations about natural snowfalls and, as a result, was never disappointed. Instead, I skied more than my share and I could only rejoice when a number of providential blizzards transformed the mountain. These abundant precipitations first came in the later part of January, lasted for days around mid-February, and then in a more routine, spring-like fashion, during March and early April.

(Photo by Ryan Turner)

Of course, the credit for what ended up being another great season, rested more on the snow-maker shoulders and the groomers fine-combing expertise, than on the skies natural bounty, and for once, the snow-making insurance-policy protection came into full force and delivered the goods!

(Photo by Ryan Turner)

This said, the season was packed with wonderful days of skiing, powder snow, both untouched and meticulously manicured, and at times it was hard to believe that it was a dryer-than-usual winter. When January came around, tree skiing was again a possibility and the opportunities for powder “face-shots” were much more frequent than I would have imagined.

It’s too bad that these sensations are so hard to share, because if they could be telegraphed in more vivid terms, many folks who ended up staying on the sidelines might have made the effort to come out and experience these great ski days for themselves. I, for one, discovered new runs, new path in the trees and by the time the resort closed down this past Sunday , I still could not get enough good skiing!

Of course, I’ve always been a late bloomer as far as skiing goes. I never get really excited too early in the season. My passion for the sport needs to build up and as April comes along, I’m still eager and ready, but nature thinks otherwise… The morale of the story is that, whether we live next to Deer Valley Resort, in the Salt Lake Valley, Los Angeles or New York, we should never assume that “conditions are bad.” The ski reality that Deer Valley creates always exceeds our best imagination!

(Photo by Gus Steadman)

As our delayed winter may linger for a few more weeks, there still might be a few turns in store for me under the form of alpine ski touring, as soon the skies clear and the snow return to “corn” quality. Mountain biking is still a good distance away, and frankly, before thinking too much about the upcoming summer and its endless array of activities, I need to take a long mental vacation from this past winter!

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.

NASTAR National Championships

I’ve been out of town for a week and I’ll let you in on where I was. I often hear, “I haven’t seen you all year” well even if I’m not at Deer Valley, I’m always skiing! I have had the fortune of partaking in the NASTAR finals in Winter Park, CO for the last four years. No, I didn’t qualify, I’m invited to be one of seven pace setters. This entails trying to set the pace against, AJ Kitt, Jake Fiala, Doug Lewis, Ted Ligety, Picabo Street and Steve Nyman. The adventures begin Friday where we are paired up.  I was with Doug (Mr. Universal Sports) and he had me laughing the entire time (not hard to do). We start by setting our new handicap with two runs then we go to our designated race arena. Somehow Doug and I had the most courses. Friday & Saturday we took 14 runs. These aren’t free skiing, easy runs these are behind the wand race runs. Remember we are trying to beat each other, I must be getting old. We also have receptions, sponsor dinners and awards ceremonies that take hours. I’m not complaining just trying to shed some light on our busy days. Although the days are full it’s a blast to be around all these successful skiers.

(Heidi and Doug Lewis)

Some of the highlights of the weekend were seeing so many Park City families participating. Thankfully I see them at home because there is no time to catch up at the finals. I have seen one mother since being back and her comment was, “all of you are in your element, so fun to watch”. Another was my little buddy Colby Starr placing second in his age group. He was nervous on race day and I got to inspect the race course with him. I think it might have calmed his nerves. And the Sheppard family came through with bells and whistles to place two kids in their age group and top ten in the family events!

(Heidi with the Sheppard Family)

Being paired up with Doug kept me laughing and on our final run after we crossed the finish with both laid down. People asked if we were tired? No we answered” were icing our backs”! The first day the courses were soooo tight. I blew my line all weekend trying to keep up. One time was I was going so slow Doug caught up to me and asked in mid-racing “how’s that turn working for ya?” I love going to the event (as we all do) because it lets us see over 1,200 people who love the sport. We try our best to say hi to all of you. It also allows us to catch up with our fellow teammates and be silly again.

(Ted Ligety and Heidi just before pacesetting)

As I approach this next week at Deer Valley it will be the last of my season. For Spring Break were going to enjpy some sun and fun in Disneyworld! Should be interesting. I haven’t been there since I was the same age as my oldest son. I’ll understand what my mom went through. However,  I will be home in time for closing weekend and closing day. I have a feeling the last day will be a snow storm. Should we make a bet? Maybe one of the best powder days will be April 15th. I look forward to a break in Florida but excited to always close the ski season at Deer Valley.

See you on the slopes.

Fireside Dining at Empire Lodge: Not Your Typical Dining Experience

My image of fireside dining used to be a cozy table for two warmed by a gas lit fireplace, a tasty meal, and a glass of red wine – sounds wonderful but pretty typical.  Fireside dining at the Empire Lodge is definitely not typical.  When my husband and I walked in, we knew we were in store for something special.  A roaring wood burning fire in the huge stone fireplace greeted us.  The fireplace housed three pots of steaming chocolate and a pan of berry cobbler!  I immediately made a note to self – save room for dessert.

Fireside dining at Empire Lodge is distinct in that you are certainly warmed by the fire but the food is also. Inside the fireplaces, you’ll see wrought iron stands holding melting cheeses, steaming stews and potatoes, and racks of lamb.  The atmosphere of warmth with the aroma of the wood fires and the juices dripping relaxes everyone immediately.

We were seated by the fireplace with two huge blocks of cheese melting onto individual plates.  My husband had the view of the snow and mountain with the tall dark pine trees paired with aspen trees.  Every twenty minutes or so, a horse drawn sleigh slowly passed by and I’d turn to watch the sight.  I chose to sit so I could watch not just the fire and those mesmerizing blocks of cheese melting, but also the other guests and their reaction to this unusual sight.

To me, the guests seemed to fall into two distinct categories:  eager or curious.  The eager folks took the direct approach.  They stepped right up snapping photos and proceeded directly to the middle of the fireplace and didn’t even wait for the attendant to hand them a plate.  They grabbed one straight out and the host placed the hot melted cheese plate on top (using tongs!) They took the same approach with the accoutrement table.  They topped the melted cheese with potatoes, meats and mustards with wild abandon appearing that they wanted to try absolutely everything. (I fell into this camp.)

The curious guests seemed like they were almost thinking, “For me?” They approached from the side allowing the host to serve them.  They stood back and took in the accoutrement table first scanning the options and delicacies before making their choices.  I observed many pairing up different meats, mustards and chutneys selectively as if they were choosing wine pairings with courses.  This group was probably thinking to themselves, “I better pace myself so I am going to make the perfect combination.” (My husband fell into this camp.)

I don’t know which I enjoyed more – my meal or observing others enjoying the experience.  The duck, the veal and mushroom stew, roasted potatoes and the roast lamb with apple basil jelly were amazing but both my husband and I kept that dessert table in the back of our minds as we took our time and enjoyed the meal, wine and relaxation.

When we did make it to the dessert fireplace, I noticed the other diners had changed camps.  Well, it is probably better said that they joined camps – everyone was eager.  There was no apprehension or hesitation at this accoutrement table.  I heard someone say, “This is great. They have the largest plates for dessert.”

Everyone filled their plates with combinations of strawberries, bananas, pineapples, cookies, dried fruit, and nuts then chose their personal cup of steaming hot fondue.   Of course, my husband and I both chose all three—dark chocolate, caramel, and white chocolate with Grand Marnier!  Our favorites ended up being: dark chocolate for pineapple and bananas, caramel with the sugar cookies and white chocolate with the strawberries.  With the ski lodge, the horse drawn sleigh, the roaring wood fires, hearty flavorful stews and meats and the playful desserts – can’t think of a more extraordinary dinner no matter what camp you fall in.

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!