Monday, May 28, 2012

Lambs Canyon - Return of the Naturevert

Naturevert : noun

: 0ne who turns inward toward nature a : one whom concentrates on or rejuvenates from nature 

Origin of: nature- + -vert (to turn)

After a week of hotels and cities I was feeling sluggish, and with the dim hiking prospects, a bit discouraged. Luckily we identified at least one trail that might work for us. In Hiking The Wasatch John Veranth details lots of great hikes in the Wasatch Mountains. Most, however, are on what is known as The Front, while Park City is on The Back. The Lambs Canyon Trailhead was on the Back, only 15 miles away. 

We arrived at the parking lot early and soon were hiking along a stream in a narrow, river canyon alongside early spring wildflowers. Clematis, columbine, and mountain rue bloomed along the trail the first mile until we began climbing into the pine zone, occasionally crossing snowbanks, the topping out in an Aspen grove, on a semi-desert ridge with views south over the Wasatch Range.

S.D. was less than impressed by the mini-history lecture on Mormon settlement patterns in the canyons, but he eagerly hiked ahead when a passing couple mentioned they had just seen a moose. Somehow we missed the moose but saw even more of the wildflowers and birds that thrived on the ridge.

A little sore, but totally rejuvenated we finished the hike in about 6 hours and realized I had really needed this immersion in the nature of the place; the trails, woods, valleys, canyons and peaks of the place. While I've never been to Northern Utah before, it felt great to be back!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Silver Moose Ranch

In the classic Bernstein Bears childrens story The Bears' Picnic Papa Bear sets out to take the family on a picnic only to discover that each place that looks like a perfect spot is, in fact, very much not the perfect picnic spot. Scenic meadows are stampeded by cows, bees tend to not want bears picnicking by their hives, beautiful overlooks actually overlooks a highway, etc.

When searching online for the perfect place to stay for vacation one assembles the list of perfect criteria, and hoping that Papa Bear's curse does not hold true for this selection, pushes the submit button.  These days the criteria is pretty exacting, so pushing that button and driving up to the place you are going to spend the next 6 days of your 'perfect' vacation are always a bit anxious.

According to the website and the Trip Advisor reviews, the Silver Moose Ranch would be not disappoint.  Large, sunny rooms, in a quiet, natural location but only a few minutes’ walk to Park City's downtown restaurants and shops. The perfect picnic spot for a B & B.

Situated down a side road, on 13 acres of Aspen and meadow, is what can only be described as a really cool 5+ bedroom house blending Mediterranean, ski resort, and mission-style influences. The Silver Moose exceeds all criteria. It is a great place to start and end every vacation day. From the massive central stone fireplaces to the open, granite-countered kitchen crowned by a gorgeous iron-work chandelier to the king-sized beds in the rooms, every detail is perfect.

And then there was the unexpected bonus ( somehow I skimmed over that on the website). The breakfasts and snacks! All homemade, all sooo very good. Eggs, coffee cake, crème Brule French toast, snickerdoodles, biscotti, and more.

Brian and Tamara, the hosts were great too! Friendly, and knowledgeable about the area, they've collected all the menus and information about what's going on in the area from specials at the local restaurants to the low-down on the pair of geese that you might encounter walking up the driveway.

The Silver Moose Ranch was the perfect Park City place for us.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Park City Hiking?

May is off-season in Park City. Most of the snow has melted so the skiers are gone, but there's still enough in the higher elevations that the mountain bikers have not yet arrived which is fine by us. When making plans for this trip we'd assumed it would be a good time and a good place to do five days of hiking. After stopping at the third 'outdoor' store with only mountain bike trail maps we began to wonder.

SD persisted and we stopped at the fourth shop, White Pine Touring and finally found a good topo map with clearly marked trails up in the mountains. Unluckily, most of those were on the other side of Guardsman Pass, the road through which was closed for the winter. “Yeah”, one of the bike guys explained, “they don't open that til June, maybe July. But you can hike the bike trails.”

Being, well, who we are, we drove up to Guardsman's Pass, and sure enough it was closed even thought there wasn't all that much snow. There did however appear to be trails off the parking lot just below the summit. While probably bike trails, they were empty not only of snow but also of bikes and people and we weren't sure they'd make good hiking trails running as they did all over the ridges and ski slopes. The views from the ridge however were spectacular.

Inspired by the scenary, but slightly discouraged by the hiking prospects, we headed back down to Park City to check into the Inn.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Triple threat?

Last night at Gracie's bar, while sipping a local Full Suspension IPA and watching the bike commuters stream by, a fellow librarian stopped by to talk about this great book store he'd found two blocks to the East.  Could Salt Lake City be a triple threat on the BBB scale?

The beer is awesome. A rich, smooth, full selection and coincidentally, low alchohol, so I have tried a more than usual number of different brews. The bikes are everywhere. There are roughly 10 bike shops in town and the city supports an extensive network or trails and bike lanes.  I picked up a map at the visitor center which not only shows a large number of bike only routes, but also lists all the rules of the road and the general theory behind it all.

The bookstores? Those too are prolific. Although most appear to specialize in used, collectable books the selection is more varied, yet complete than in stores that sell new books.

On the BBB scale, Salt Lake City rates a perfect 555. But is it all that good, or are there limits to the BBB scale? Something there is that doesn't love this town. Which isn't to say I would ever pass up a chance to visit, drink a beer and take a ride!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Keep it simple

Yesterday morning I walked up through Temple Square to Capital Hill and back through Creek Canyon and Creek Park.

The founding of Mormonism may be a bit puzzling, but their naming schemes certainly aren't. Things here are pretty much along the lines of calling it as you see it. Want a name for a city beside a Salty Lake? Hmmm lets call it Salt Lake City. What should we name the square in which our temple sits? How about Temple Square! A park in the Canyon that has a creek? You guessed it. City Creek Canyon Park.

It certainly makes it easy to tell which is the bigger canyon Big Cottonwood. Or Little Cottonwood? I'll bet you can even guess what type of tree grows there.

 I am however, a little confused by City Creek Center. It is in the Center of the city and there is a Creek running through it. (BTW -its the same creek that runs through the canyon) but what is it really? Hint:'Shopping' or 'stores ' or should be in the name.

I also wonder why they focused on the lake when naming the place. Walking around the area what you really notice are the mountains. Everywhere you go, there they are both to  the East and to the West, big, beautiful snow covered mountains. If it were my town, and I needed to stay with the naming scheme, I'd have called it Big Mountain Valley or maybe Awesomeville!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Salt Lake City Prequel

I'm off in a few hours for Utah. Three days of conferencing in Salt Lake City and then a vacation week in Park City. I've been doing my usual prep work, scouting out good hiking trails, brew pubs, and books.

I easily accumulated a list of good breweries (although recommendations are always appreciated), and hiking in the Wasatch Mountains sounds fantastic, but there is a notable lack of good, related reading material, unless you count mysteries and polygamist biographies. Having read Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith , which is both, I'm all set as far as that genre goes.

There are a few "history " books, which don't read well, but do have some information. The Lady In The Ore Bucket: A History of Settlement and Industry in the Tri-Canyon Area of the Wasatch Mountains begins with settlement of the city and continues on through the lumber and mining eras.

The thing that surprises me about the early years isn't so much the casual use of the word 'wives ', I got used to that on my last visit, no, it's the land ownership system. Basically, the Church and or Brigham Young owned the land and everyone else either leased it from them or...I don't some by marrying some of his children? Luckily multiple wives beget multiple children and land ownership became more and more common as the years rolled on. But still it seems a strange feudal / socialist system and one that is often overlooked. Makes me wonder....