Groms with Glow Sticks Ring in the New Year

 

Cheese pizza, a snow cat ride with your friends, and skiing back down decorated with glow sticks? What more could a kid ask for to ring in the New Year? Youth from the Wasatch area, local cabin kids, and even a few visitors joined us last night for the annual Children’s Glow Light Parade.

kidsincat

 

What a fun night for the kiddos of our community! They started the evening at our Last chance Southwest Grill, dining on cheese pizza and accessorizing with glow sticks. Soon they were shuffled out to our cat, where they piled in with their buddies for a nighttime ride up the hill. Parents huddled outside the machine with their cameras, peeking into the frosty and glowing windows peppered with the too-cute image of children in goggles and helmets. If you’ve never ridden in a snow cat, it’s about as much fun as a spin on a carnival ride, and these pint-size rippers were probably just as excited for the ride up, as they were the ski down.

loading into the snow cat

loading into the snow cat

As the light of the second group of children reached the top of Main Street, spectators moved out onto the flats at the bottom. The beams of the children’s flashlights illuminated their path and combined into the parade of lights to welcome in 2014. The trail of lights was even accented by some creative Utah skiers who’d fashioned outfits of lights in various colors.

ready to head up the hill

ready to head up the hill

 

The laughter and cheers of children faintly drifted down the hill toward the awaiting crowd, who returned with woots and whistles. Parents, spectators, and baby brothers and sisters alike embraced the glowing group as they reached the bottom of the hill, and although it was dark, I’m pretty sure I saw a few gleaming smiles from the participants.

 

The Glow Light Parade

The Glow Light Parade

Like those that participated last night, we hope you spend your New Year skiing Utah, smiling, and glimmering. Happy New Year from all of us here at Solitude Mountain Resort!

Dreaming of White

beach-1

In my book, Christmas should always be white. Not white sands but white snow. This year, however, the Hodson family decided to spend eight days in sunny Florida right before Christmas. A trip of a lifetime for the boys with a visit to every theme park and landmark that could be found. Blue skies, shorts, alligators and sand was exciting and new but as Christmas loomed closer, my heart started to empty of its love for 80 degree temps and flip flops and longed for the snow capped peaks of the Wasatch Mountain resorts.

Dazzling lights, fake Christmas trees, bells and wreaths, concerts and shows could not make up for the loss of December in Utah. As much as I had been thrilled about the change in scenery, I needed to get home. All of us needed to get home!

Seems a little whacky for Christmas.

Seems a little whacky for Christmas.

We were giddy, even after a long, LONG flight home as we stepped into the chill of pre-Christmas Eve with highly anticipated joy. The boys worried that Santa would not know we were home but he came, quietly and stealthily amidst the stars gleaming above the city, blanketed in white. The cold morning dawned as Noah and Isaac reveled in their loot and I yawned and enjoyed the peace of my own home. Hotel rooms and busy itineraries drifted into the past.

A Hodson Christmas!

A Hodson Christmas!

Legos captivated the boys and breakfast filled them but eventually they began to wonder why we were still lounging around the house? Didn’t we ski on Christmas? Wasn’t it tradition? Jet lagged and sleepy and feeling rather Scroogy, Matt and I finally decided that yes, we belonged on the slopes on Christmas Day.

The short drive up Big Cottonwood reminded us why Florida could never compare and we greeted Solitude Mountain Resort with enthusiasm. The late afternoon sun was already casting it’s shadowy light when we finally clicked into our bindings but ski Utah on Christmas Day we did. With not a second to spare, we high tailed it through the recently opened Powderhorn gate and made our way into Black Forest. Sun baked drifts gave way to shady patches of soft fluff and we turned effortlessly as we dropped into the silent valley of Honeycomb Canyon. Anyone who had been there had long since gone home and we relished in the quiet together as a family.

Isaac looks back at the looming peaks falling into shadows.

Isaac looks back at the looming peaks falling into shadows.

Beaches cannot compare on Christmas Day to the beauty of pines drooping with the weight of sparkling snow or craggy peaks glowing pink and purple with the effervescent glow of the setting sun. Winter in Utah is brilliant and spectacular and if you are even thinking of skipping over our magical playground for the magic of other places just wait until the snow melts because when you dream of winter, you should always dream in white.

Happy Holidays!

All I want for Christmas is bluebird powder…and some friends to ski with

 

Growing up as a skier, every Christmas was inevitably filled with gifts for the sport. Long underwear, ski socks, and new gloves or goggles were often waiting for me under the tree each Christmas morning. My post-present afternoons were spent trying it all out whether in snow caves, cross country skiing, or even snowboarding on the nearby sledding hills of my small hometown. Luckily, this was the typical routine for many of my friends as well, and we would all join together with our shiny new toys and bellies full of cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate, playing till it grew cold as the sun set. Unfortunately, as I grew older, while I still unwrapped long underwear and skied in the afternoon, I spent the last few years skiing alone. If I was lucky, I’d get a lap or two in with my husband, who works on ski patrol and is usually very busy during the holiday season. This year, though, with the newfound connectivity of group text messages (now that we almost all have broken down and switched to smartphones) and possibly a little help from Santa, I spent my Christmas break skiing in a group of Big Cottonwood locals.

 

the BCC girls getting some powder on the West face of Honeycomb canyon

the BCC girls getting some powder on the West face of Honeycomb canyon

What a Christmas eve treat to charge with the ladies all day in re-blown powder! We set the traverse out to upper scree, wallowing in graupel snow that far surpassed the snow stake totals. It was a brute, but we were rewarded with smooth, wide open turns all the way down.

 

photo

Elise H. opening her present from Santa a day early

Christmas day at Solitude couldn’t have been more perfect either. Bluebird skies and newly opened terrain treated me with some powder turns out in the Highway to Heaven and a few secret spots tucked into the cold corners of the Honeycomb East Face. As I dropped into one of my favorite powder stashes, I made sure to whisper a little “thank you” to Santa before slashing another turn and coasting out onto Woodlawn.

 

All I want for Christmas is a bluebird powder day...

All I want for Christmas is a bluebird powder day…

My last lap on Christmas was down the Powderhorn Cirque, breathing in the cold of December’s early evenings. As I hop turned my way down in the fading light, following the whoops of my friends, I realized that while my Christmas this year still had a few pieces of new long underwear in the mix, the best gift was returning to my roots of playing with my friends till the sun sets.

 

Finding Joy in Solitude

“If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre

I am sure that there is a difference in being in solitude or being alone but sometimes finding the peace that comes with being all by yourself can be challenging. Let me make clear that I like to be alone…a lot, but, I do not like to ski alone. I feel unchallenged and bored and often times, give up before ever making it on the hill because I can’t find a sidekick.

I almost gave up on solitude this morning because twenty texts and many calls later, I was still flying solo. I understand that life gets in the way and the freedom of endless ski days is a distant memory packed away with my early twenties but c’mon folks, no one? Not one person to entertain myself with?

I thought about the things I could get done with nothing on my calendar and nowhere to be and almost threw in the towel but something stopped me. I was going up and I knew it. The lure of new(er) snow, crystal-clear skies and warmer temps (yes, when you get up above the inversion it is almost balmy), convinced me to wallow out of my self pity and up the canyon.

No one, I mean NO ONE is here!

No one, I mean NO ONE is here!

As the gray gave way to brilliant blue and the Wasatch Mountains rose around me in pristine and utter beauty, my hesitation turned to joy and I drank in the silence. No one to chatter with and ruin the peace of the moment and no kiddos fighting in the back seat cluttering my mind with their nonsense left me filling full of renewed energy and sense of self.

 

Bluebird Baby!

Bluebird Baby!

 

Solitude Mountain Resort in Utah is solitude. There are few resorts in Utah that allow you to experience complete silence and peace as you find your turns and lay over your boards. We all know that Solitude is the perfect name for our unspoiled Wasatch gem and so the story of silence and tranquility carries on and so does mine. A story of a perfect day filled with sunshine, soft snow, packed powder and no one to bother with my incessant yammering….well, until I finally marched into the ski patrol shack and broke my morning of solitude.

After all, while discovering my inner peace and clearing my mind was great and much needed, it was necessary to end the day with some amusement from humankind. I guess my obsession with staying connected finally won out. Sorry Keith…

Discovering Solitude Mountain Resort

Having grown up in Colorado, I had never fully experienced Utah skiing until last Friday when I explored my first Utah ski resort.

One of the greatest things about Solitude Mountain Resort is the parking. I’m used to parking a mile away and having to carry my snowboard trekking in my uncomfortable boots (because I am too cheap to pay for a locker) for at least 20 minutes just to get to the lift.

I started my day off at the ski rental shop to get a pair of snowboard boots. The staff was friendly and extremely excited to help me out since I was the first rental customer of the season. After a few minutes, I was on my way to the lift and discovered that there were literally NO lines! I had heard there are no long lift lines at Solitude, but I couldn’t believe that there was no wait at all! This is something I am not used to since all of the big resorts I have been to are always crowded. One time I waited in line for 45 minutes just to get up onto the mountain for my first run.

best solitude lift photo

 The mountain felt empty and I was able to get on and off the lift without waiting all day. Aside from falling quite a few times, I flew down the runs loving that I didn’t have to worry about tons of people or long lines.

At lunchtime, I headed over to Honeycomb Grill for probably one of the best lunches I have ever had. First, they brought out a hot chocolate to warm me up. Then, I ordered the grilled chicken sandwich with avocado off of the menu. I enjoyed my hot chocolate and the incredible view of the mountain while I waited for my lunch. When it came, I was not disappointed. The flavor was incredible and after a long morning of snowboarding, falling and trying to get off the lift without wiping out, it was nice to be served a delicious meal that kept me full for the rest of the day.

hot chocolate

 At the end of the day, I dropped off my rental gear without any hassle. Then walked to my car less than five minutes away from Solitude’s village. I couldn’t have asked for a better day of snowboarding at Solitude. I am definitely now a fan of Utah ski resorts, and I look forward to coming up next week.

best solitude photo