Do it…Play Hookie!

I (we all) have been waiting for this day all year! Saturday was cold, blowing and nuking and it was definitely the beginning of something immanently good and, today, well today delivered and good ol’ Utah powder is finally back in the house!

Don't tell me there isn't snow!

Although, there are still some spots that are still waiting for a few more feet (ahem, Here Be Dragons) of solid coverage, the mountain is finally looking like it should…drenched in white! Runs are now open that have sat untouched since last season and most of my favorite stashes are rippable (I know that is not a real word…just go with it). In fact, the only places that I want to ski that I can’t, are closed because of unstable conditions and too much snow not for lack of it.

Hey, where did my son go?

I knew I was skiing this morning, even though I had to ditch some important tasks and I knew I was pulling at least one of the groms out of school to join me (I think I need to find a Solitude posse). It wasn’t even a question. I got Isaac squared away and then showed up at Noah’s school around 11:00 a.m. to free him from the third grade. The girls in the office know what I am about and when I showed up in neon yellow ski pants with fresh snow falling outside they didn’t even bother to question where I was taking my kid. Why lie? Skiing, dentists, doctors, it’s pretty much all the same thing. Serious business you know, that thing called powder.

Navarone

I passed two Park N’ Ride’s for Little Cottonwood Canyon and the cars were piled up…looked like everyone had the same idea. However, upon arriving at Solitude’s parking lot which was not even half full, I pulled right up to the Moonbeam front doors and parked. Not a soul was in the brown bag area and Noah and I quickly booted up and headed outside. A woman was coming in as we were heading out and I asked her how the snow was (just being polite). She said that it was good early on but, now it was all tracked out and she was heading home. I looked at her and smiled and then thought to myself “Where was she skiing, Diamond Lane (which actually still looked pretty decent when we went up Powderhorn)?” I laughed inside because I knew, even though it was 11:30 that we were about to get some serious something, something! Besides, the fact that fellow riders were few and far between, it was snowing hard enough to quickly fill in whatever was “skied out” early in the morning. Granted we weren’t on the main runs, but, hey, I didn’t pull out the Noahmeister to ski anything but steep and deep!

In case any of you are wondering what and where we actually skied, here it is, three hours of pure, peaceful, snowy joy. Powderhorn lift to Here Be Dragons (a little sketchy getting in). Honeycomb Return to Navarone (first time all year there has been enough snow to get back there), two times. Back to Powderhorn and through the gates to Milk Run. Summit to Headwall. Summit to Cathedral. Standing at the top of Cathedral is one of the most glorious spots at Solitude and skiing it (with fresh snow) is always worth the sidestepping. Summit and a hike out past Buckeye Junior, last run in Queen Bess and that was that. Had to head down to pick up the other munchkin.

Having gotten called out on my last post by fellow skiers when I stated that a “behemoth” of a storm was coming, I am going to refrain from saying that any such thing happened or is possibly going to happen but, I will say that, today, Mother Nature did not disappoint. She came through and if any of you are considering a momentary lapse of reason and want to skip out on your responsibilities, now would be a good time to do so. The wet weather looks like it should continue for a few days and trust me, you will be sorry if you miss out!

Skiing the Deepest “2 inches” of Powder

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Photo: Brian Thurber

The caption above explains just how I feel about skiing yesterday. The double punch of being both a snow day and President’s day, I headed up to Solitude just after lunch hoping to miss at least a portion of the crowd. Nearing the first entry, the sight of an unusually packed parking lot hit my eyes. Cars were spilling out onto the shoulder of the highway. Ugh. There goes my powder day… if you can call two inches of snow a “powder day.”

However, as a Solitude regular, I should know better than to ever be worried about finding snow. As if rewarding my efforts to ski, the resort always hands over a plentiful amount, and yesterday was no exception. Giving over the groomed runs to the holiday skiers and checking out the off-piste, there were suddenly no crowds and…

Find out more in this photo-packed post on ginabegin.com

The Warm Before The Storm

Shelly Poulton (Solitude Girl!) Loving the Sun!

There’s a behemoth of a storm coming…or so they say. The next couple of days should be epic, that’s right, I said it…EPIC! Just in time for all the vacationer’s to rip some serious snow. Can I shed one tear for timing though? I am sorry guys, I am happy for everyone who has the weekend off and who will get to come up and ski in the famous Utah pow (although, tomorrow may be a little intense for anyone not used to a serious Wasatch blizzard) but, I am just a wee bit sad that the hill isn’t going to be all mine. I am sure there are a few locals out there who are probably on my side on this one. Am I right or am I right? Why not a couple of days ago or better yet, next Tuesday when everyone is back at work. Oh well, I guess I can’t complain too hard seeing how I really am as excited about this supposed dump as the rest of you snow hounds out there and everyone who has paid the big bucks to come and support Utah and her mountains!

What Can I Say...I Love This Kid!


Noah Getting Some Sun Baked Goodness in Parachute

But, lets talk about today for a second because oh baby was it warm and beautiful! You know that warm before the storm thing that happens in Utah before the BIG ONE hits. Temperatures raise to 50 in the valley and it feels like spring for a few minutes and then, WHAM…flipping blizzard and two feet of snow! I think that was what was going on today. It was definitely nice enough to shed your coat this afternoon and chill out at The Roundhouse and enjoy a burger on the deck with friends. Plenty of people did just that and good times were had by everyone who decided to kick back and relax slope side. You could smell barbeque all the way at the top of Eagle!

Burgs at the Roundhouse

Christan and Noah Checking Out The Goods

These Guys Are Loving Life!

The crazy thing was that for all the cars in the parking lot and all the people that had to be on the slopes, it really wasn’t that busy. I don’t know what it is about Solitude but, somehow it always seems to live up to its name. Baffles the mind. Maybe we (the locals) will get lucky this weekend and shred some untouched turns even though it is President Day Weekend? We are skiing Solitude right? I suppose I shouldn’t worry about it too much…besides, cha-ching, cha-ching goes the registers.

So, back to today, I was pleasantly surprised by the snow conditions even after a few days of warm temperatures and the absence of flurries. The north facing lines in Honeycomb were still fluffy in the shade and Noah and I ripped down them without a soul around. I even let a holler roll out of my throat as I hopped over small tree covered in winter’s blanket of white. Sheer happiness can be found if you only look…no matter what conditions or holidays exist!

Honeycomb...Still Giving it Up Days Later!

Today was great but tomorrow…tomorrow…can’t wait to see what it brings!!!

Fine Dining Worth The Hike

Solitude Mountain Resort Yurt

Our guide explains the history and structure of the Mongolian yurt at Solitude Resort

The moon was hidden behind the frosty mountains as we wound our way over the wooded snowshoe trail to Solitude Resort’s yurt. Three or four of us carried lanterns to assist the group of diners- roughly 20 of us- to the structure located about a mile away from the base of the resort. Energy ran high as we picked our way through the forest, some stumbling over the snowshoes strapped on their feet and laughing as they learned a new way of walking.

Putting on Snowshoes at Solitdue

Getting ready with provided gear

Hidden away at Solitude, it is not surprising if you haven’t heard of the yurt dining experience. An observant rider may catch a glimpse of the round, tent-like structure while riding the Sunrise chair, but other than that, this restuarant- though I hesitate to call it that as the dining area is intimately limited to 22- is strategically located to create a solitary mountain experience.

A warm glow intensified as we neared the yurt, and though the sub-freezing temperatures didn’t stop our cheerful spirits, we were eager to remove our snowshoes and step inside…

What’d we find? Read more at ginabegin.com

Ice Cream For Sure…Skip The Cherries

I said I would blog about today and so here I am doing what I do best. “Spraying”, as my old friend, John E. at Atomic used to call it, is what I do so, here goes. First of all, I am not going to say something that isn’t true so, no cherries today because it wasn’t as deep as I had thought it was going to be. However, I actually hate cherries, especially those mushy things out of the can that people put on their Sundays so, I am actually okay with just the ice cream. Vanilla, fresh and creamie…is just the way I like it. Today was Vanilla! I am going to spray about today because I believe that 1% of you actually got out today to enjoy the foot of pow from yesterday’s storm.

I don’t know about Little Cottonwood Canyon but, Big was surprisingly empty. Noah, his buddy Carter and I pulled into the lot at 9:15 and we parked, once again, right in our usual spot. Hardly a soul was around. I know you all got your goods yesterday while I sat in church but, geez, no love for a Monday? Who’s complaining? Not me and definitely not the lifties who got their fair share of turns in! In fact one, operator, Neve, back on the Honeycomb Return Lift, claimed that his morning had been magical. MAGICAL…You hear that boys and girls! Magic was happening all morning while you all did your thing down in the valley.

We had three hours to kill before the boys had to head back to school and trust me, we found everything that you missed yesterday incuding untouched pow in Honeycomb. The gates opened just in time for three killer lines down the west side of the canyon. Mmmm…Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, you name it we found it and devoured it. I am not going to go on and on as if I haven’t ever skied powder but I just had to “spray” the fact that yes…I got some today!  I guess that with so few days of it this season it’s hard to contain my excitement? I am going to let the following photos of Noah and Carter fill you in on the rest of whatever it is that I am trying to say.

P.S. the next few days should be just as nice so, why don’t you find an excuse to come up and partake in the MAGIC!

Spring Skiing Last Week, Crazy Kids in Between and Bottomless Tomorrow!

I wished that I could have been up in the mountains today but, for all you powder junkies who got up there and skied pow all day without me…kuddos to you…you lucky dogs! Howevs, while most of you get back behind your desks tomorrow, I will be cruising over your tracks that are now buried beneath a bottomless blanket of white. HALLEFREAKINLUJAH! It’s about time, right?

I promise to let you know how that goes for me tomorrow but, for now, let me fill in the last week. Most of you know that although we haven’t had a lot in the way of storms the last week or so, doesn’t mean that the skiing isn’t any good. Quite the contrary my friends, it has been downright springy and sweet in a laid back, chill kind of way. Honeycomb has been super fun to explore with the kids, who love the hidden tree trails and natural jumps and pipes that make Woodlawn one huge organic terrain park at the moment. Challenger is super fast and furious and the bumps all over the mountain are building up some much needed thigh muscles. I am telling you…good stuff!

February doesn’t usually allow for too much tailgating, but with the recent warm sun, the lounge chairs and grills have been getting their groove on in the Moonbeam parking lot. Who’s complaining about that? Nothing like barbeque, family, friends and good skiing to keep your spirits high.

Last Saturday was my cousin, Liz’s birthday and she celebrated in typical Solitude style. Happy Birthday Liz! It was great to hang with family and rip up the mountain. The kids scored some good eats in the parking lot and showed off their mountain and their skills to anyone who would follow them around. My boys had so much fun that they wore themselves out to the point of exhaustion and that is where my happy little story ends.

And now, for the comedy…featuring us. In case any of you were standing in line at the bottom of Moonbeam and the shrieks of two young boys sprawled out across the snow caught your attention last Saturday, let me explain. Isaac was skating as fast as he could past Moonbeam so that he could cruise down to Eagle when Noah came up behind him and pushed him as hard as he could. Of course, Isaac fell face first onto the hard snow and consequently got entangled in Noah’s gear. So there they were, two brothers who don’t want to be closer than two feet at any given time, were snarled up in a heaping, angry mess. Enter, me, who whacks Noah across the back of his helmet with my pole only to have him fall over and scream to the world that I could have killed him. Seriously. Neither boy cares that they are each freaking out in front of about 40 people who are intently staring at all of us and making their dear mother wish that she could be anywhere else in the world. And then it happened, the only thing I could do was call it as it was so, I turned around, faced the crowd and in my loudest voice announced “Welcome to the Hodson show, I hope that you have enjoyed it” and then I bowed. Noah, finally realizing the situation that he had caused, jumped up (I guess he wasn’t injured by his mom after all) and skied off as fast as he could. I picked Isaac up, gave a last wave to the crowd and headed out of sight. I am sure most of you would rather forget such a scene but, I would dare bet that some of you reading this blog witnessed my little crisis and I am just here to let you know that yes, even me, sweet little Rachael (not) loses it!

Now, it’s a week later, everyone is fine, everyone is skiing and having a grand time and it is as if nothing ever happened…well, except that now, I am writing about it and immortalizing our insanity forever. What the heck is my deal? I am not sure if this stuff is really what Solitude is hoping that I write about but, I am supposed to be blogging about my ski days and well, sometimes, skiing isn’t always ice cream with cherries on top. Hey, that is a good headline for tomorrow’s epic powder day. Let’s see if it happens for me!

P.S. In case you are an administrator at Granite Elementary…please be forewarned that the Hodson boys will NOT be in class tomorrow.

Scott and Isaac Downing Some Serious Grub in the Parking Lot

Nice Turns in Honeycomb Chris C.!

Isaac Playing in His Favorite Secret Trail in Honeycomb

Yesterday, Saturday...THIS is why I LOVE Solitude!