Another month 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.
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.
Mountain Valley RV Resort in the Heber Valley
We love the snow!
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!
Weather summary for January…
Average high temp: 35F Average low temp: 9F Average snow: 18.5 inches
Record high temp: 60F Record low temp: -35F Record snowfall: 68 inches
Observed high temperature: 49F
Observed low temperature: -13F on 6 Jan **The temperature under the trailer was 22F**
Measured snowfall: 37 inches!
NOTES: Heber City received DOUBLE its normal January snowfall. The most that we measured on the ground was 21 inches. If it weren’t for nearly an inch of RAIN on 9 January, we would have had THREE feet of snow on the ground! January 2017 was a great month for snow lovers in Utah!
On 31 December we attended a New Years party…
Happy New Year! It’s rare for Arleen and me to be out after the sun has gone down, but we made an exception New Year’s Eve. We wanted to celebrate with an old Air Force buddy and his wife. Nate and Colleen were visiting Park City for the holidays.
Their family has a palatial house with features like an indoor slide, climbing wall, huge hot tub, and too many bathrooms to count. It is a real contrast to our small 300 square foot home. To some it is the American dream. But we are blessed to also be living a dream and know that many would choose to travel in our shoes given the choice.
We had a great time with Nate and Colleen and look forward to seeing them in Idaho later this year.
The huge home is perched over a thousand feet up the mountain / The slide in the house / My friend, Nate
On 2 January we went skiing…
Snowmeggdon had been on over the holidays with 22 inches of snow fall while we were restricted from skiing on our pass. We had been eagerly tracking the accumulating snow and looked forward to getting back to the slopes.
Cache is the hard working manager at Mountain Valley RV resort. We have always talked about hitting the slopes together. He was finally able to take a morning off to join us. It was very chilly but the snow was nice and soft.
Cache was a competitive mogul skier back in high school. He grew up in the area and skied often at Canyons back in the day. As we rode the lifts together he would point out memories to us, “See that rock there? We would jump off of there and that is where Johnny broke his ribs one day”.
We did a Sun Peak and a Condor lift run with him. Then we headed back to the Orange Bubble to make powder runs off of Doc’s Run.
Ski route at Canyons / Our ski partner, Cache
Cache getting some good turns
Long lift line at the Orange Bubble at Canyons
On 3 January I went snowboarding…
23 inches of snow had fallen in the last 36 hours and we were eager for some powder! It was a fun day!
We did one run off of Sun Peak and then several off the Orange Bubble, our favorite lift when it is snowing. It has a shield to block the wind and a heated seat to warm our buns.
Snowboard route at Canyons / 23 inches of snow in 36 hours…powder baby!
On 5 January we went skiing…
By the 5th, 40 inches of snow had fallen in four days, with 13 inches falling overnight. It was only five degrees Fahrenheit when we arrived at Canyons and it was breezy. The cold air was flowing in behind the low pressure system that had brought all the pretty snow.
We ventured south to the Tombstone and Peak 5 lifts. From there, we did multiple runs through the Colony housing area. The runs had several inches of fresh powder and just a few tracks. They meander for about two miles and descend 2,000 feet over bridges, under roads, and by multi-million dollar homes. The runs aren’t challenging, but they are some of our favorites.
We racked up almost 15,000 feet of descent in nearly 15 ski miles on a chilly but very enjoyable morning.
Ski route at Canyons / The temperature was 5 degrees and Arleen’s eyelashes were frosted
13 inches of new snow…another powder day at Canyons!
Arleen finishing a two mile long ski run that drops 2,000 feet.
On 11 January I went skiing with Gary…
We had a few dry days but by the 8th, the snow spigot was back on! The night before, we had dinner with Gary and his wife Barb. As we ate dinner, we watched the snow piling up outside and made plans to meet the next morning.
By morning, 17 inches had fallen in 24 hours. Gary and I met at Canyons. We spent most of the day doing knee-deep powder runs off the Iron Mountain lift.
Gary worked at Aspen for many years and it shows in his ski style. I had a great time trying to capture him moving effortlessly through deep snow.
It was a great day but we yearned for more. It was so incredible we returned the next day.
Ski route at Canyons / 17 inches of new snow…excited for another powder day!
Gary getting knee deep powder runs off the Iron Mountain lift
On 12 January we had another powder day at Canyons…
By morning we had an additional foot of fresh powder. We met Gary before the lift opened and we were in one of the first chairs up earning our “fresh tracks” pin.
I did three great bottomless powder runs off Condor with Gary. It was so incredible it reminded me of the days skiing Alyeska’s North Face.
We finished the day with a few laps off Orange Bubble. It was still snowing heavily when we left and it was hard to leave.
Ski route at Canyons / More great snow: 12 inches in 24 hours and 30 inches in 48 hours!
Worn out from all of the powder!
On 14 January we snowshoed near Daniels Summit…
On the first blue bird day after 12 days of snow and cloudiness, we headed to Daniels Summit to snow shoe. We knew that the Snotel site near there indicated that there was 63” of snow! I could drop Arleen into the snow and she would disappear.
As we drove up, the snow along the road got noticeably deeper. The gate where we normally park was hidden behind a wall of snow. So we drove past and parked at the Daniels Summit Lodge.
Snowmobile trailers filled the area and we heard the annoying machines taking off in all directions. Thankfully they are not allowed to go north of the Lodge so we would be able to hike in peace.
The Blue Spruce forest was incredible! All of the trees were cloaked in a few feet of snow. The area is sheltered from high winds and snow had piled up on everything forming soft snow sculptures.
We were able to follow other tracks for about a mile before they stopped. We had to blaze our own trail from there. It was tough going as we took turns taking the lead and looking for the blue diamond markers to stay on course.
We finally met up with tracks coming up from the campground that provided a little relief. In the campground there was no evidence of the picnic tables or the fire rings other than big bumps in the snow. Near the outhouse, the snow was almost up to the roof.
Once, back on the Foreman Trail, we had to break trail again. We arrived back at the truck exhausted. We snowshoed almost four miles but had to break trail on over half of it. We wondered if our tracks would still be there when we returned.
Snowshoe route near Daniels Summit / SIX feet of snow!
Breaking trail…it was tough!
It was very pretty
It’s very peaceful amongst the snow covered spruce trees
It was a great day!
On 17 January we hit the slopes at Park City…
It was bitter cold in the valley under a steep temperature inversion. We knew that there was bright blue skies and warmer temperatures just a thousand above the valley. We headed up to Park City Mountain.
We made our way to the McConkey Lift to get some pictures. It seemed to take us forever to get from one side of the mountain to the other. At the top of the lift we were just below Jupiter Peak, 9,998 feet, and had an awesome view over the Heber Valley, about 4,500 feet below.
There wasn’t any new snow but it was still soft and it was getting fast on the long groomers.
Ski route at Park City / Posing at the top of McConkey’s lift with Heber City 4,500 feet below
A beautiful day on the slopes at Park City
On 19 January we hit the slopes at Canyons…
We still had not had any fresh snow in almost a week. The beginning of January had us spoiled!
We headed up to Canyons for a day of skiing groomed runs. Since before the holidays, the slopes had been crowded. Today, we had a lot of the runs to ourselves.
We did a few runs off of Condor and a few more off of the Orange Bubble and quickly racked up over 10,000 feet of descent.
Ski route at Canyons / Riding our favorite lift, the Orange Bubble
On 20 January we cross-country skied at Soldier Hollow…
We were eager to cross country ski at Soldier Hollow, part of Wasatch Mountain State Park, near Midway. The setting is incredible under the shadow of Mount Timpanogos and the Wasatch Range. It’s a special and historic place.
“Once the site of a small Native American encampment, Soldier Hollow emerged from obscurity in the winter of 2002 as the immensely popular site of the Olympic cross country and biathlon events.”
It’s just seven miles from Heber City and has a base elevation of 5,463feet and a top elevation of 5,882 feet, with 19 miles of skiable trails spread out over 134 acres. That includes 14 runs that vary from “Green” (beginner) to “Blue” (intermediate) to “Black” (expert).
We had not cross country skied in 15 years. However, we easily conquered the groomed beginner runs so we skied up the intermediate Spin & Grin run to a good view over Heber City. Then we enjoyed a lengthy and effortless gradual downhill…it was fun! We were surprised to learn that downhill ski skills do not transfer directly to cross country skiing.
Finally, we circled south on Pony Express to go by the Olympic stadium where the international flags still fly high. We paused to watch a few biathlon athletes practicing.
We skied three and a half miles in just over an hour for a great workout. We both had sore legs for a couple of days. We’ll go back for the tubing on another day.
Cross-country ski route at Soldier Hollow, site of the 2002 Winter Olympics
Rounding the high side of the Soldier Hollow track
First time on cross-country skies in 15 years!
Look at that form!
Arleen rounding the final turn on the Olympic course
On 24 January I went to Canyons…
Powder days were back! We had 20 inches of new snow in the last 24 hours and 31 in the last 48.
Once again, I was there when the first chair headed up the mountain. I headed over to the Condor lift and did several powder runs off the north side before it got too tracked up. Despite the deep snow, I could feel the Volkswagen size moguls on a couple of the runs.
I headed back to the Orange Bubble to finish the day. It was one of my best days with over 20,000 vertical feet and over 31 ski miles.
Snowboard route at Canyons / Great powder day!
On 28 January I snowshoed in Big Hollow…
I wanted to check out a new area: Big Hollow. The trail head starts near the Heber Valley Shooting Range, less than four miles from the RV park.
The main trail was packed snow and climbed steadily as it headed miles south. I wanted a view, so less than a half mile from the truck, I left the main trail and blazed my own.
I climbed steeply through two feet of snow…it was tough! Occasionally I broke through the snow and got entangled in snow covered sage brush and scrub oak. I crisscrossed many animal tracks, mostly deer, maybe some elk, and even a few left by moose!
I had climbed about 500 feet and the view was outstanding. I could see the truck far below, and Heber City was back dropped beautifully by the Wasatch Mountains. I was eager to make it to the top of the hill, less than a hundred more feet above. I knew the view would be even better up there.
I took a step, and then my snowshoe skid on a thinly covered rock. I went down hard. My right knee hit the rock with the entire force. The pain was sharp and immediate. I slowly got to my feet, gathered my senses, and gingerly tested my knee. I could put some weight on it, and it hurt to bend. Though I was only a mile from the truck, it was going to be a tough painful mile.
I slowly made my way straight down the hill. It wasn’t too bad if I stayed mostly on top of the snow, but it was brutal when I punched through. Thankfully it got easier once I made it to my old tracks. I was glad when I made it back to the main trail and relieved when I climbed into the truck and headed home.
Snowshoe route up Big Hollow / I turned around just below the top because I hurt my knee
Great view of the Heber Valley and the Wasatch Mountains (The truck is in the bottom left)
On 31 January WE snowshoed in Big Hollow…
We headed back to the Wallsburg Cooperative Wildlife Management Area to get a snowshoe workout. We parked next to the Big Hollow Shooting Range and headed up.
We were taking it easy today. I had hurt my knee going off trail here just two days before. Arleen’s butt is still broken. That’s how she refers to her piriformis strain she did a few months ago. She’s been careful with her activity level to avoid setback.
It’s a multi-use trail. When I was there the other day, there was a packed trail that snowshoers and joggers used. Right next to it were cross country ski tracks.
Unfortunately since then, someone had taken a horse up the trail. The heavy animal severely cratered the 2 feet deep snow. This made our progress tricky and it wasn’t much fun.
We only climbed about a mile. From there we had a great view back over the Heber Valley.
We’ll go back since the area is so close and it makes for a great quick workout. Hopefully some fresh snow will fill in the horse damage and we’ll make it farther next time.
Snowshoe route up Big Hollow / Nearly 1,000 feet above the Heber Valley
A mile up the Big Hollow trail
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!
Our heated water hose melts the snow / Electric and water nearly buried in the site next to us
Mike using the big tractor to move snow