First five weeks in Heber City, Utah…
Why we came…
Heber City is a nice town and the surrounding area has plenty of things to do. More than anything, we came to play in the spectacular Wasatch and Uinta Mountains.
The Provo River and Wasatch Mountains on 26 Dec
Mountain Valley RV Resort is outstanding! It was recently built and was clearly designed by folks familiar with RV’ing. Sites vary in size and most have a decent amount of space. The cost, proportional to the size of the site, is a bit high on a nightly basis, but quite reasonable on a monthly rate. The laundry and private bathrooms are well laid out and immaculate. An outdoor hot tub is also available all year long! Satellite reception is great from all sites, but that might change in a few years as the saplings grow. Cable TV is also available, and there are plenty of over-the-air TV channels. The cell phone signal is reliable data and wi-fi is also reliable and usually fast. Cache, Mike, Loni, Judy, and the rest of the resort crew do a great job of maintaining everything and keeping everyone happy.
When we were here two years ago, about 25 RVs spent the winter at Mountain Valley RV Resort. This year there are about 60 RVs! Some are full time travelers, such as us. We met one lady who is here for medical care. Some have transient jobs, where the RV lifestyle makes it easier for them to bring family along. Yet others are locals who have sold everything, and are embracing the RV lifestyle as a way of downsizing into a tiny home.
Mountain Valley RV Resort plans to open a new section in May
Getting set up for winter on 18 Nov / All set up for the winter…two inches of snow on 24 Nov
Heber City, elevation 5,600 feet and population ~13,000, has plenty of conveniences. And if we can’t find something in Heber, then Park City is 15 miles north and Orem/Provo are 26 miles southwest. The Heber Valley is paradise with dramatic 11,000+ feet high peaks, Deer Creek Reservoir, and the trout-filled Provo River. We often gaze at Mount Timpanogos and White Baldy peak from the comfort of our toasty home, and are treated to incredible sunrises and sunsets! Strawberry Reservoir, Utah’s best trout lake, is 24 miles southeast. Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Ski Resort are just 15 miles north and the rugged Uinta Mountains are a 35 mile drive to the east. We could easily settle here!
Taking care of ourselves…
Healthcare is one of the biggest challenges in our lifestyle and it’s nice to settle down for a few months and see familiar health care specialists. We have been very impressed with Heber City’s health care system. Our primary care doctor, dentist, and ophthalmologist remembered us from two years ago and treated us great. Their staffs are also competent, helpful, and friendly.
We stayed busy the first few weeks in Heber with doctor visits and tests. Specialists are just a short distance. I had an appointment with a new endocrinologist in Provo, just a quick half hour drive away.
Both Arleen and I arrived in Heber with creaky bodies. My back was sore and Arleen had a gimp. We made an immediate visit to local chiropractor, Dr. Cody Nix, of Heber Valley Chiropractic. His assistant and wife, Jennifer, laid out a care plan for our time here. Dr. Nix practices the traditional philosophy of Chiropractic which is subluxation and structural correction of the spine. We know that under his care we will leave Heber walking tall and ready for backpacking next summer.
One of the keys to staying healthy is working out. That can be a challenge during the winter. So we joined Anytime Fitness, again. We were greeted by Alison, the owner, like we had just seen her yesterday. Her gym will be a great place to shake off the winter blues, get a cardio workout, and lift some weights. Arleen will probably take a few classes such as Zumba and Tia Chi.
Prepping for winter…
This will be our third winter setting up in a cold location where subzero temperatures occur each year. This requires extra precautions on our part to prevent frozen pipes and avoid other crazy things caused by extreme temperatures. (Our clothes freeze together in the closets and the front door freezes shut!)
First, we move any summer recreation equipment, like kayaks, under the trailer. Then we attach our skirt. We had the skirt made four years ago at RVskirting, now in Peyton, Colorado. It is made of vinyl coated polyester with high tensile strength. With no additional heat source, the temperature under the trailer can be up to 30 degrees warmer than the outside air! It reduces our heating costs considerably.
The skirt has straps that we would ideally stake into the ground. However, at Mountain View we are on a cement pad. So the next best option is to line the skirt with weights. Two years ago we discovered that empty milk cartons filled with water make perfect, yet cheap anchors.
The most important step is the water connection. In the past, we have used heat tape and insulation. This year, we invested in a heated water hose. We found that we can stay attached till we get into the single digits. At that point the line freezes where the hose attaches to the RV.
We also add extra insulation where ever we can: outside hatches, around the slide seals, under the sinks, and the back of some cabinets. Our biggest challenge has been the hot water pipe that runs between the bathroom and kitchen sinks. It tends to freeze when the temperature drops into the single digit temps.
I traced that water line and found the problem behind some drawers. There were open gaps between the outside cable TV connection, an outside electric outlet, and the inside water lines. I sealed those gaps and lined that wall with added insolation. So far the pipe hasn’t frozen!
We also put Frost King Shrink plastic on most windows and the back entry door. It makes the interior less drafty and it feels a tad warmer.
We have to take extra heating precautions too. Our normal 30 pound propane bottles “freeze” in extreme temperatures. They also empty in just four days when it stays cold. To combat these problems we borrow a 100 pound bottle from the RV resort. The bigger bottle won’t “freeze” and gets refilled roughly every three weeks. We also use a small electric heater to help keep us warm. Electric and propane cost us roughly $100 each month during winter!
Condensation can also cause all kinds of problems. No matter how cold it gets, we keep the bathroom vent and small kitchen window open a quarter inch or so.
Weather summary for our first five weeks…
Average high temp: 37F Average low temp: 12F Average snow: 14.6 inches
Record high temp: 68F Record low temp: -34F Record snowfall: 66 inches
Observed high temperature: 51F
Observed low temperature: -4F on 27 Dec **The temperature under the trailer was 27F!**
Measured snow: 16.5 inches
NOTES: The skirt added nearly 25F of warmth on the coldest mornings! Overall, temperatures varied considerably and precipitation was above average. The lower elevations got quite a bit of rain and average snow. Snowfall in the mountains started off slowly, but got above average by 11 December and stayed above average the rest of the month. Winter sports enthusiasts like us, were happy!
Utah snowpack on 8, 11, and 25 Dec (Click any picture for more detail.)
Coming back to Mountain Valley RV Resort was like coming home. We were greeted by Cache, Judy, Loni, and Mike. A few days after we arrived, the Resort hosted a Thanksgiving potluck meal. About 60 other folks shared in the wonderful meal and good conversation.
Joyce, who we met in the Resort two years ago, now lives in the local area. We have stayed in close touch ever since. She graciously invited us over for Thanksgiving dinner. First, we took Joyce’s four legged friend, Torrey for a good walk in her neighborhood. After the chilly walk, we enjoyed gin marinated turkey thighs and cauliflower stuffing. We look forward to seeing Joyce and Torrey throughout the winter.
A few days after Thanksgiving, we met my cousin, Tif, her husband Juan, and four of their daughters for lunch in Provo. They live in Nevada but drove four hours to shop! It’s a little crazy to us but we were glad to spend a couple of hours talking and laughing with them.
The RV resort hosted two holiday potlucks
We had an enjoyable Thanksgiving walk with Joyce and Torrey near Park City, Utah
Torrey and I crested a hill and had a great view of Jordanelle Reservoir and the Heber Valley in the distance
It was great to spend time with my cousin and her entertaining family on 26 Nov
Park City Mountain Resort…
We have season passes for Park City Mountain Resort. When we were here two years ago, Canyons and Park City had just merged. Since then, Park City and Canyons were linked with the new Quicksilver Gondola. They now have bragging rights as the largest ski resort in the United States with 7,300 skiable acres.
We only have to go six times for our season passes to pay for themselves. We went four times in December because we were bogged down with responsibilities and were “blacked out” during the peak holiday season the last six days of the month.
During our stay two years ago the area had record low snowfall and record warmth. This year started off a bit slow, but mountain snowfall was above normal by 11 December and stayed that way the rest of the month. Park City Mountain Resort’s December 2016 snowfall was 111 inches. At the end of the month, they reported a base of 42 inches.
On 8 December I went snowboarding…
Arleen wasn’t feeling well so I headed to Park City alone. Only a few ski runs were open with mostly manmade snow. The runs were halfway decent and the crowds were thin. I just did five runs and called it good. I was happy that my skills weren’t too rusty after taking last year off!
Snowboard route at Park City / First day on the slopes with my season pass!
On 9 December we went snowshoeing…
Our friend Kevin joined us for our first snowshoeing adventure of the year. Kevin, one of our inspirations, is a professional photographer AND he is starting up a Mountain Fitness enterprise. As part of his new business, he is going to be documenting our way of life over the next 12 months with writing, videography, pictures, and interviews.
To kick start the project we took Kevin snowshoeing with us up on Daniels Summit. In Kevin’s words, “Weather was perfect, snow was good, conversation was lively and interesting, and we had lots of fun.”
Two years ago we had to hike up the dirt road and put our snow shoes on near the top due to sparse snow. Not this day! There was a good 18 inches of powder on the road and more than that on top.
Snowshoe route near Daniels Summit with Kevin / Enjoying a glorious day!
Our hero, Kevin, making it look easy
Kevin, Arleen, and I on a snowshoeing adventure
On 12 December we went skiing/snowboarding…
A bunch of snow had recently fallen and more ski runs opened up. Arleen felt better and she was eager to test her “ski legs”. We headed to Canyons on a blue bird day with mostly calm winds, pleasant temps, and empty slopes.
First, we rode up our favorite ski lift: Orange Bubble Express. It’s covered and has heated seats! Then we made our way to the Sun Peak Express and did multiple laps on two different runs. We ended up totaling nine runs and racked up almost ten thousand feet of vertical descent. We both felt good and had a great day!
Ski route at Canyons / A fun day on the slopes!
Headed up the mountain at Canyons / Comfy temps, bright blue skies, and good snow…perfect
On 13 December we went snowshoeing…
We parked near the Lodgepole campground at Daniels Summit. We made our way to the Foreman Trail but not directly. Now we know the proper route!
There was about two feet of mostly untracked powder. We took turns breaking trail around the campground and decided we did not enough day left to do the Foreman Trail. That’s alright. The nearly two mile route around the campground through the deep snow wore us out enough!
Snowshoe route around Lodgepole Campground / We’ll do the 2.5 mile long Foreman Trail next time
Two feet of untracked snow
On 20 December we went skiing/snowboarding…
Our next trip to Canyons coincided with school Christmas break. The slopes were more crowded and the increase of kids was obvious. In addition, a hard base layer had formed due to some rain and ice pellets a few days before.
We parked next to a truck that looked familiar. Sure enough, our friend, Gary, walked up to us with a big smile! We chatted briefly about the previous two years and made plans to hook up soon.
We left the crowds behind by the time we got up to the Peak 5 lift. We did four meandering runs past multi-million dollar homes in the exclusive Colony neighborhood. Those two mile long, two thousand foot vertical drops added up quickly and wore us out! We totaled over 14,000 vertical feet that day.
Ski route at Canyons / Posing near the bottom of the Peak 5 lift
We ran into another one of our heroes: Gary
On 22 December we went snowshoeing…
We went back to the Lodgepole campground near Daniels Summit. Since our last visit, 18 inches of new snow had fallen. Our previous tracks were completely hidden under the new snow.
We had plenty of time to do the entire two and a half mile Foreman trail. We broke trail the entire route. It was slow and tiring, but also fun. It was one of the most physical workouts we’ve had in awhile!
The new snow was very pretty. It completely covered small bushes making odd shaped, smooth, mounds. Campground fire rings looked like giant white donuts. The trees were draped in white cloaks and it was peaceful. We cleared two and a half feet of piled snow to sit at a picnic table and scooped out a pit to comfortably relax our tired legs.
We really enjoy snowshoeing the Foreman Trail. It’s convenient to our home, gets lots of snow, is a great workout, and is quite pretty. We are eager to see if the next big storm covers our tracks again.
Snowshoe route on the Foreman Trail near Daniels Summit / We broke trail for three miles…it was tough!
The weather was brisk, but that didn’t stop us from having fun
On 25 December we woke up to snow and had a Christmas meal on the ski slopes…
We woke up on Christmas with seven inches of new snow. The ski slopes are often surprisingly empty and very enjoyable the first couple of hours Christmas morning. We planned to be there at opening, do a few runs, and then have a meal on the mountain. Unfortunately, we had a couple of delays, like clearing snow around our home, and arrived with the big Christmas crowd.
The weather was frigid. The temperature was around 10 degrees and winds were gusting to 30mph causing wind chills well below zero…yuck! We went directly to Lookout Cabin, half way up the mountain, and enjoyed a great meal. We descended Doc’s Run, one of our favorites, to the bottom and declared it a fine Christmas adventure!
Mike and I clearing 7 inches of pretty snow on Christmas morning!
Christmas ski route at Canyons / We had a great meal at Lookout Cabin
We will stay in Heber City until the first week of April and then we’ll spend the summer in eastern Oregon and central Idaho. We look forward to some great adventures!
Ensemble forecast product for snowfall for Canyons / 12 inches new snow on 11 Dec at Canyons!
Ice and snow along the Provo River on 26 Dec