MAIN STREET, SNOW SHOEING & OLYMPIC BOBSLED RUN
10th January 2020 | James Cove, Utah
Last modified on January 15th, 2020
We’ve arrived in Park City, Utah for a few days of powder skiing. But first we go to two ends of the spectrum.
ON ARRIVAL: GOOD EVENING PARK CITY
PlanetSKI begins its week-long visit to Utah with a stroll along Main Street in Park City.
It is one of the best streets in any ski resort in the USA.
Well, in my opinion anyway.
It has 47 listed historic buildings with countless bars, restaurants, galleries and shops.
An early evening stroll is the best way to feel the unique US ski resort atmosphere and get in the mood for skiing USA-style.
And keep oneself awake after a 10-hour flight and seven-hour time change.
It is 7pm local time.
That’s 2am according to my body clock.
There’s the Egyptian.
The Egyptian is one of the original venues for the Sundance Film Festival that kicks off later this month.
It has theatre, local bands and much else besides.
Just strolling the streets and soaking up the US ski town atmosphere is what I like to do on arrival.
And to pop in here, just to keep awake of course.
And each time I visit Main Street in Park City something catches my eye.
Tonight it is this – a Banksy:
It appeared overnight back in 2010 during the Sundance Film Festival and has now become a tourist attraction.
It is now behind a protective cover it was vandalised a few years back.
But it remains.
Once again Park City provided a surprise.
Park City is an old mining town and actually used to be called Treasure Mountain.
One of the aspects I like about Park City is its history.
Many US resorts are rather antiseptic and somewhat characterless in my opinion.
Not so where I am now.
The town was founded in 1868 when soldiers stationed in Salt Lake City traversed the mountain from Big Cottonwood Canyon to find silver.
The completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1870 brought hopeful miners by the droves to Utah with their eyes set on becoming rich overnight.
The discovery of exceedingly rich silver ore brought George Hearst, the father of William Randolph Hearst, to Park City.
His Ontario Mine, purchased for $30,000, produced over $50 million in its lifetime.
The remnants of the mines remain and I will be taking a tour of them as I ski the resort at the weekend.
“Why wait to the weekend?” I hear you ask.
Well, tomorrow I am not skiing.
I am going snowshoeing and taking a ride down the Olympic bobsled track.
See here for what else is on the plan:
And this evening the stroll continued – just window shopping.
PLANETSKI TURNS INTO PLANETSNOWSHOE
There has been 20+cm of snow in the past 24-hours here in Park City in Utah.
With light snow forecast all day and some bright spells.
Perfect powder skiing conditions you might think.
But this guy has other ideas, step forward Levi Wegleitner.
He’s a snowshoes guide from Blue Sky Ranch a half hour drive from Park City.
It is situated on the edge of the Utah wilderness.
“Don’t worry James we’re going for a proper snowshoe. We’ll be clocking up 8 miles or so, climbing more than 1,000ft and you are going to have a few hours in our Utah powder like you have never had before,” said Levi.
And off we went.
I was not convinced.
“It is great to experience the mountains in a different way, to get away from mechanised transport and head up under your own steam and simply enjoy nature and escape into your own thoughts,” said Levi.
I was still not convinced,
Though, granted, the views were getting rather spectacular as we ascended.
I’d rather be coming down with skis on my feet rather than puffing uphill with rather odd things strapped to my feet.
And then we looked up some more and admired the mountains.
And the solitude.
There were some deer tracks in the snow.
An eagle flew over head, a ruffle grouse flapped its way out of the bushes in a rather ungainly fashion and then there were some more tracks in the snow.
“Those are recent ones from a mountain lion, they ‘requite peaceful animals and hopefully we’ll see one hanging out in the trees,” said Levi.
From that moment every time I walked directly under the branches of a tree I looked up.
An hour or so slipped by as we made steady progress.
We saw no other humans.
The scenery simply got better and better.
I got into a rhythm, rather like ski touring, and a peaceful karma just kind of descended by itself.
“How popular is snowshoeing here when you have such a fabulous snow record here in this part of Utah,” I enquired.
“Very,” replied Livi.
“In the past two weeks I have taken out 12 groups and some of them have been all day.”
And on we plodded.
We arrived at a hut 1,200 vertical feet after our start – a perfect place to pause before the descent.
There has certainly been some snow in this part of Utah.
And then it was downhill, all the way back.
As we headed down and approached our start point Levi’s first words floated back into my mind.
“It is great to experience the mountains in a different way, to get away from mechanised transport and head up under your own steam and simply enjoy nature and escape in your own thoughts.”
I could only agree.
And next up today?
I am going to the Olympic bob sled track and hurtling down the track at speeds approaching 70mph with forces of 3G.
Skiing the powder can wait for a while.
PLANETSKI TURNS INTO PLANETBOBSLED
And now, a couple of hours later, I’m scrunched up in the back of a small pick-up containing me, 3 others and a 300llb bobsled.
We’re heading to the start gate.
And my thoughts?
Before we knew it we were off.
So, how was it?
And if you want to see a helmet cam view of the experience:
Well, could you?