Month number four in Heber City, Utah…
Why we came…
To enjoy a snowy winter in Utah’s spectacular Uinta and Wasatch mountains.
Mountain Valley RV Resort is excellent and we continue to be comfortable.
A full moon sets behind the Wasatch Mountains
Rare snowflakes this February!
Weather summary for February…
Average high temp: 39F Average low temp: 13F Average snow: 15.1 inches
Record high temp: 68F Record low temp: -38F Record snowfall: 58.5 inches
Observed high temperature: 64F on 14 Feb. There were 7 days over 60 degrees
Observed low temperature: 10.8F on 23 Feb…the only day with a low below average
Measured snow: 2.5 inches…just 16.5% of average
NOTES: The ground was bare in the valleys for all but just a few hours in February. Even the south sides of the hills and mountains had very little snow. Sadly, it did not look or feel like winter in much of the Utah mountains!
Temperatures compared to average / Precipitation compared to average (Web link: http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/anom/)
Utah drainages snow equivalent % of average on 26 Feb 2015. We are in the Provo - Utah - Jordan drainage. (Web link: http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/ftpref/gis/images/ut_swepctnormal_update.png)
As if the lack of snow wasn’t enough, Arleen and I were plagued with maladies that grounded us for much of the month.
My injured shoulder felt better as February began. I ramped up my exercises, felt even better, and pushed myself harder. Then, one morning before going to workout, I got out of my chair and nearly collapsed to the floor…my back went out! Painfully, and with Arleen’s help, I took the five steps to our bed and laid there for most of the next 48 hours. I dreaded trips to the bathroom and got very little sleep. You could actually see that I was crooked. My right shoulder jutted to the right and my left hip jutted to the left. The muscles in my lower back were locked tight. I felt better after a few days with the help of ice, ibuprofen, and minimal movement, but hardly did anything for two weeks. A chiropractor confirmed that my back was a wreck. X-rays showed the “L5” resting directly on the sacral. His adjustments helped, but three weeks after my back failed me, it has only improved to about 80%.
Midway through my back ordeal, Arleen got hit with the shingles!
In her words…
The “experts” say that you need the shingles vaccine when you are over sixty, or if you lead a stressful life. Well I have a relaxed existence, especially when I reflect on my often challenging Air Force career. Shingles, a virus that lays dormant in anyone who has had the chicken pox, most often appears on the torso. For me, the shingles attacked the nerve array on the left side of my head. I experienced blisters on my scalp and face, coupled with sharp, shooting pain deep in my left ear. It was the worst when I tried to sleep and the nerves relaxed. The pain and firing nerves kept me awake most nights. Multiple drugs provided some relief, but always wore off too soon, leading back to misery. Shawn also reminded me often that I was a “biohazard” to those that had never had chicken pox. I hardly left the house the first week. Fortunately, two weeks later I only have a few lingering symptoms. I did not experience any hearing loss, sight loss, or paralysis of the face that can be complications of the shingles. I do have some balance issues but I have always had those!
Since we hit the road nearly four years ago, we’ve enjoyed good health. February 2015 has been a rough month. We spent more time inside than we did outside!
Ski route at Canyons Resort / Arleen giving the thumbs down for lack of snow
On 4 February we did some ski runs at Canyons Resort. They reported a few inches of new snow, but it was only on the top third of the mountain. We did a run or two up high and conditions were just okay. There wasn’t enough new snow to cover the concrete-hard old snow. We descended to the lower part of the mountain where temperatures were above freezing and soft “spring conditions” prevailed. The lower slopes were nearly empty…most people were playing on the far reaches of the upper mountain. We carved easy turns in the slushy snow and had fun.
Okay snow cover on north facing slopes and sparse coverage on non-north aspects…SAD!
Fly-fishing the Provo River near Heber City
On 5 Feb we fished the Provo River. The weather was lightly overcast, with calm winds, and the temperature in the mid-50s…great for fishing and we didn’t even need our jackets! Due to poor use of our time, we only had an hour. We each hooked one fish, but failed to land them.
Deer Creek Reservoir and the Wasatch Mountains from the Heber Valley Overlook. See Arleen?
On 19 Feb we did a short hike to the Heber Valley Overlook in the Dutch Hollow section of Wasatch State Park. Due to Arleen’s shingles and my bum back, we had hardly been out of the house for two weeks. I was on the upswing, but Arleen was still struggling. But it didn’t stop her from doing this fairly easy two mile hike.
These trails are usually snow-covered this time of year, but weeks of spring-like weather made them clear and mostly dry. It was 60 degrees and sunny…we needed sunblock! On the way up, we met a young mom with two young boys. They were in t-shirts and shorts and enjoying the great weather. But what got our attention, was the large dog’s head and floppy ears seemingly floating along just above the three foot high sage brush. As we neared, a tall, skinny Great Dane galloped over to meet us. She was only two years old and sweet as can be. We got some big ole sloppy doggy kisses and headed up the hill.
The view was outstanding! We also searched in vain for a missing geocache. Unfortunately, Arleen’s shingles were getting more active and she struggled slowly back to the truck. My back also tightened a bunch, but later felt better after some ice and ibuprofen. Though the hike was nice, it was a little too much too soon for both of us.
Ski route at Canyons Resort / Fun entertainment in the lift line
On 27 Feb we hit the slopes at Canyons Resort. It had been more like late spring than winter for the past six weeks. Thankfully, the weather pattern finally changed just enough to relinquish some snow. While Colorado celebrated FEET of new powder, we were content with 3-6 inches. The bulk of the new snow fell on the upper half of our ski resorts. It was just enough to freshen up the groomed runs, but not enough to improve off-trail conditions. We did five or six runs and it was pretty good. Arleen even conquered two harder runs! Her shingles only bothered her a little and my back tightened just a bit. It was encouraging and we were glad to finally play in the snow!
A decent day at Canyons Resort
Snowshoe route near Daniels Summit / Being goofy in the snow!
On 28 Feb we snowshoed near Daniels Summit. The mountains got a few inches of new snow on the 27th and a bit more on the 28th. We even had an inch in town…it finally looked like winter!
We were semi-motivated to get out, but felt less than a hundred percent. We hadn’t snowshoed all month, and frankly, the blog content was sparse. We forced ourselves to venture out and were glad that we did!
The fluffy new snow sat atop a bomb-proof layer of old snow. With minimal effort, we made fresh tracks and did the 2.75 mile loop pretty quickly. It was fun to attempt to decipher the stories told by numerous different animal tracks in the snow. We had the trails all to ourselves except for a young family visiting from San Francisco. They were also snowshoeing. The father carried a six week old baby bundled peacefully against his chest. I gladly took pictures with their phone to capture those moments forever. It’s great seeing folks enjoying the outdoors and creating memories!
It’s also great that winter has returned and we’re feeling decent!
It’s finally looks like winter!
We will spend our final month in Heber City, Utah and then head north to southwest Idaho.
Three inches of new snow at Canyons Resort on 28 Feb…we need three FEET of new snow!