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.

 

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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…

Veterans Day Skiing

As I arrived at the Solitude Village the bell tower struck eleven and greeted me with tunes that completed the feel of strolling through a small European ski village.  Instead of finding myself in Austria or Switzerland I have arrived at a resort that represents Utah skiing at it’s finest.  After a quick trip to the ticket office the day was afoot with plenty of sunshine and other fortunate souls that would find excellent coverage and a great spring skiing experience in November.  Amongst the lucky was a wonderful Peterson family from Park City including their young daughter Sonja.

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I commented that she was fortunate to have such awesome parents to take her up and enjoy the mountain today.  As for me the reward of a great skiing experience is not only being up in the fresh air, but getting in ski shape.  With some Slalom skiis on for the day carving turn after turn is the best way to knock the rust off for what I know is coming in the near future……POWDERfile://localhost/Users/Mikes/Desktop/photo-10.JPG

First Day Excitement

I remember when I was a kid and my dad would take us skiing at Crystal Mountain, Washington. The resort was almost 2 hours from our home and we would have to wake up obscenely early to be there by nine in the morning. Rising early was never a problem for me because I could hardly sleep anyway and was always up long before the sun ever crested the tips of the trees. I remember how exciting those times were and how I could hardly stand the wait until I would be swooshing down the mountain.

I wondered this morning where those days had gone when my boys anxiously awoke me quite a bit before Rachael Standard Time allowed me to roll out of bed? I should have been jittery with anticipation. Solitude was opening early and it was the first day of the season! With Thanksgiving still weeks away and ski lifts cranking, I shouldn’t have been able to contain my excitement but I just lay there in bed wishing my boys would go back to sleep.

Not that I was thrilled that Solitude decided to open early and that my kiddos just happened to have the day off and could enjoy the first turns of the season with me. I was, I promise, I just couldn’t feel it…not like I used too. Why the lack of enthusiasm? Maybe I am just spoiled rotten with solid, long winter ski seasons or maybe, just maybe, I am turning into a real grown-up? You know the ones who finally back away from the trampoline after years of showing off to let their kids have all the fun. Real grown-ups do that. They sit around and are fine watching instead of participating. Was I becoming one of those?

Hey, it’s me talking, what am I saying?! I think I just stayed up too late. Whatever the matter, I was okay catching a natural high from my kid’s excitement and I finally rallied and made it up shortly after 9:00 am.

The boys were bouncing from the roof of the car and I had to lay down the game plan at least four times before they caught on that they were going to have to get their season passes BEFORE they could actually put their skis on. The groans and moans and wired up energy found their way into the ticket office where they continued to drive Solitude’s employees crazy until the passes were secured in their pockets and they were free to go.

By the time I was ready (and let’s be clear, I am no girly girl slow poke), the boys were already at the lift chattering it up with the lifties and yelling at me to hurry. I clicked into my bindings and felt a surge of happiness course through my veins. Finally, the excitement hit. I couldn’t wait to break in a new pair of skis and make some turns! I also realized that for the very first time, I hadn’t helped either of my children put on, tighten or adjust any of their gear! No whining, no crying just sheer joy from my crew. I smiled and decided that I liked this new chapter of my life.

Utah locals were out in full force this morning along with many of Utah’s media outlets. Everyone was delirious with ski fever and excited about the early turns. Solitude was able to get three runs open and all had good coverage. All of our skis came home with zero dings so that says something. I did, however, lay some major ground rules. Too many people to rip, stay ON the trails and NO jumping and goofing off. For a couple of hours the runs were like being on the freeway during rush hour but eventually, people got their token first runs in and things quieted down. By 1:00 p.m., the mountain turned into a down right ghost town and the rules sort of went out the window as well as my late blooming enthusiasm. I kicked off my gear like a “real grown up” and sat back on the steps of Moonbeam Lodge to catch some rays and watch the boys lap run after run. I drank in their happiness and realized that life was definitely changing.

What a gorgeous afternoon and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start the season. I am truly grateful, once again, to Solitude Mountain Resort for giving me the opportunity to share my love of the sport, my family and our many days on the slopes with you. May the snow fall deep and hard and may each of you find your inner child and have a truly wonderful 2013/2014 ski season!

If you only knew……

If you Only knew….
But I’m glad you don’t…..
So goes a little sticker I have from years ago from Solitude. In all sincerity April 9th it was like a virtual dream occurring days before the resort will run its last chair, the patrol conducts it’s last sweep, and the skiers ski their last lap through the magnificent terrain of honeycomb. Was it windy up there? Did they get much snow overnight? Questions are most easily answered by the personal experience of getting in touch with Solitude. As I pulled into the parking I threw the truck into 4wd to no less than 12 inchest that greeted me in a lot devoid of cars with the exception maybe a dozen. As I started my evaluation of what my expectations were for the day I faced my usual dilemma. Snowboard or Skis. As the phone rings my buddy Mark (snowboarder) calls and asks me what’s up. “There is about 12” in the parking lot right now so get your butt up here!” I exclaim.
My other buddy Steve (Skier) calls minutes afterward stating, “I’m on the way up.” I usually ski with skiers, and board with boarders, but today I’ll throw on the board cause I figure it will be that creamy spring powder just dense enough for a boarder to float without crusting out. Then the plan is to don the Skis and start shredding headwall and then honey comb when it opens up. Cause it always does with Solitudes Patrol. They take care of business, and Me!
Off I head on the board and I can see it looks like George again, in the straw hat blowing cold smoke down sunshine bowl as I watch the contrails of powder rise in the air. That ain’t dense and creamy; we are talking bonifide mid season powder! I consider taking a quick one on the Express, or head to Powderhorn. Powderhorn it is as I start floating effortlessly through the powder on my usual line just above the cliffs then darting down the terrain that other people avoid thinking it’s too thin. Well it’s not. Up Powderhorn I am looking at the other 5 people on the hundred chairs and start wondering. Where is everybody? As I make a couple calls I nearly lose my hand to frostbite. Man it’s cold. Well that is what made this snow so epic. Yeah, I said it. EPIC That is what this day turned out to be.
I noticed that skiers right of the lift on Concord is looking deep and untouched. With a perfect pitch I figured it was game on. I qued up some music by muse “uprising” and then ventured into an ethereal experience. I really don’t know how to explain the ecstasy of bounding through over a foot of powder taking face shots and entering the white room crystalline experience of shear joy and exaltation. Turn after turn of untouched powder greeted me as a continual climax of jubilance radiated through my body as I threw my hands up the air at the end to honor the experience just obtained. As I literally basked in the afterglow of my run I realized nearly no one was witness to the best snowboard run I have had all year. Why, I must do it again! EPIC, Unfortunately my Zen was slightly interrupted by the ringing in my ear of my skier buddy arriving in the parking lot. On the lift in 5 he tells me. Hmmm, opportune time to shed the board I think to myself. Going to have a lot of touring’ to do today cause I can always count on Solitudes Patrol to “Take care of business, and ME!”
Pit stop at the car and BAM, I’m a skier. Like Clark Kent turning into Superman I’m on the sticks and on a mission of shear enjoyment. We know where were going and there is only one way to get there. As we head up Sunshine on our way to summit I reminisce about my days as a kid here where I owned this lift. I loved to ski under the liftas a 6 year old mini me with my dad as my sister and mom meandered down cornucopia and new sensation.
It’s on, off the Summit lift into the rollercoaster of the headwall. Two sweet runs of powder and then whoop there it is. As the masses, 12 people, head out on the east face we take the gate and head out to the black forest and have an untouched powder stash that was no kidding, at least two feet deep. Ugh, Link is done. As I reflect back in the day you had to earn your honeycomb laps and that would require you to make the run out to the bottom of the inspiration lift. Of course this was back in the infancy of snowboarders and one thing was a given. You wouldn’t find many willing to work their way out. There was only one thing that this would mean to us. Endless honeycomb powder. All day long. Lap after lap  coming off of Eagle Express it was untouched between Gary’s glade and rhapsody down to the Powder horn lift and then farming out here be dragons of epic Solitude powder.
I can honestly say that I would rather not be anywhere else. I am talking anywhere. Whether it is in the Bahamas on a beach, some backstage rock party, or ANY other resort. Maybe, just maybe I would consider a helicopter. Except this is quicker. I finally break down after lap three I give in and follow my friend Steve a little right of my untouched lines and break over into another untouched stash hundreds of yards long. Is this for real? Yes, This is Solitude after all.
Super fresh untouched two feet of light Utah powder at 1:30 in April with NOBODY around. Such is SOLITUDE.

There’s Always Tomorrow…(But it won’t be the same)

Walking into the Moonbeam Lodge this morning felt like coming home. After a few ski trips out of state and the new found warmth of spring, it has been awhile since I have clicked into my bindings at Solitude. It’s been much longer than that since I have stopped into the Lodge. Of course, I got my usual spot (right at the front door) and traipsed into the brown bag area to find…nothing, no one, not a soul around. Actually, it’s like this a lot. I smiled, took in the homey, musty smell of my favorite hang out spot and welcomed myself home.

I recently returned from skiing endless, staggering vertical at Big Sky, MT and before that, Jackson Hole. I loved playing on such amazing mountains but now, after all the glitz and glam has since dimmed into the fading season, the quiet and serenity of Utah’s most peaceful resort called me to her. The magic of a cold, spring snowfall was just what this gal needed to sink back into the roots and soulfulness of my sport. Solitude may not be big and full of herself but she is sweet, deep and unmarred by the hustle of the world around her.

 

Fourteen inches of cold fluff (not the heavy spring stuff we’ve gotten accustomed to) but authentic, middle of winter powder, brought out the fat skis and one excited mama. I should have let my boys miss school but I called a friend instead and we floated, literally, in our hours of childless freedom.

I expected more enthusiasm from the locals but, with minds on spring sports and summer around the corner, I think people may have hung up their boards for the moment. Those who found yourselves drawn to the mountains this morning, must likely share in my sentiments, that today, Tuesday April 9th, was assuredly the best day of the year! Today was inspiring, rejuvenating and completely epic. With no one to compete with and untouched lines galore, it was a powder addicts dream and the best drug I know to put a smile on one’s face.

The air was cold, but not bitter and as the sun eventually emerged with her blissful rays, Solitude became bathed in effervescent perfection. The mountain stood still and the canyons lay quiet as we silently engraved our turns upon her unscathed slopes. A piece of my soul was left today, high in the trees of Honeycomb and I may just have to see if I might find where I left it tomorrow…

Groundhogs Don’t Know Anything and 25 Things About Me

Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog, who predicted an early spring by not seeing his shadow, is a knucklehead or at least the people who believe in groundhog weather prediction are. In fact, we are officially three days into spring and it has snowed each day thus far.

Who does this rodent think he is?

Some of you may not be so keen on the extended stay of winter but any of you who have been lucky enough to make some arcs the last few days are wallowing in glee over the powder that is falling.

 

Noah getting some spring powder

 

Since I am one of the wintery souls who is desperately trying to hold onto the last blasts of winter and am momentarily being a bit nostalgic, I thought it would be fun to share with you 25 things about me and the first three days of spring 2013.

 

1. I really don’t love babies. In fact, I see pregnant women and I feel bad for them.

2. This leads me to “Thank the Lord above that I don’t have toddlers.”

3. Which means I have boys who no longer whine…except when they are hungry, have to go somewhere they don’t want, have to do homework or pretty much every other moment except when they are shredding the gnar. I guess they whine.

No complaints from this kid!

 

4. Which also means they can ski just about anywhere and in any condition.

 

Yes they can.

 

5. I guess they will likely be better than me soon…Hmmm, maybe toddlerhood isn’t so bad! Nah.

 

This kid is getting good!

 

6. There was one day this week that I needed a poncho instead of a coat…thank goodness it was just one day.

7. I really hate skiing in freezing rain….I won’t say where but, it wasn’t Solitude.

8. I am beyond grateful that I live within minutes to 4 insanely awesome mountains.

 

Who wouldn’t want to live here?

 

9. I prefer the drive up Big vs. Little. Blizzards while driving down Little still make me nervous, even after 17 years.

10. I love that Solitude is willing to give me a voice…even when they probably wished they didn’t.

11. I really dislike the food at Last Chance but will drop mad cash at Honeycomb Grill & Stone Haus Pizzeria.

12. Days where you have to bundle up and cover every last bit of skin and then are sweltering hot minutes later means that you are skiing in spring. Not sure I am so fond of this but, I’ll survive.

 

Excellent spring skiing:)

 

13. The best snow this week fell Friday night into Saturday. This ALWAYS happens…why?

14. Even though there were gobs of people (because of the weekend powder), I still found a killer parking spot. Ski in Ski out baby!

15. If you were to follow me, you might find some seriously untouched stashes of steep powder. I would never let that happen…unless you were really nice.

 

He’s not telling either;)

 

16. I’ve learned the patrol don’t ski and tell either and really don’t like it when I open my big mouth. You got to figure this stuff out on your own.

17. I love that I know exactly where to ski and when to ski it to get the best that Solitude has to offer.

 

Ahhhh…

 

18. Yes, these pictures were taken today (Saturday), and the boys and I found our untouched wonderlands without hardly seeing a soul around…even with the fresh snow and hoardes of skiers. Ahhh…Solitude.

19. I am scared to death of the hike up Fantasy Ridge…I really am.

20. I told Noah that he can’t hike it until he’s 12. He checked it out pretty closely today and agreed.

21. I’ve decided that Isaac needs some bigger and fatter skis. A few weeks left to the season…should I do it?

 

That sticker on his helmet says it all!

 

22. I am a pro at pulling snowboarders, kids and anyone else who needs it, across the flats in blinding snow.

23. Solitude needs to put in a rope tow along Deer Trail. Don’t hate me please.

24. Did I mention that I love Solitude?

25. I really LOVE fresh, deep powder at the end of March!

He might be tired from a day of hiking but he loves it too!

 

 Thank goodness for us that the groundhog was WRONG!

It Just Takes One

 

Noah would say just one hour was worth it!

 

Lives can change in the blink of an eye. One second, one minute, one day. Today, all I needed was one hour.

 

Sometimes, we Utahan’s get lethargic about the resorts which are just a stones throw away. Even those of us who heed the call of winter become passive. We get lazy about making turns and we turn our noses up to snowless days, sunless days, windy days, crowded days, whatever it is that stops us from pulling the trigger.

 

I am sure this is much like Californian’s who can see the coast from their windows but never pull their surf boards off of their garage rafters. Why is it, that so few of us actually make it up the canyons, make it a priority or like those who long for the water, are out in the breaks by 6:00 am?

 

We all have our passions, the things that drive us and make us lust for more. I am a water person but I am most drawn to it in its frozen form. I believe there are those who’s souls belong to the water and they are drawn like the tides to the heart of the ocean. I feel this each time that I drive up into the mountains.

 

Each of us come alive in our own element but, sometimes we forget and usually, it is when we need the thing that we love the most. Mostly, life just gets in the way but, lately, I have become sluggish in my motivation to fill myself with the happiness that the mountain snows bring to me. Each spring as the winter’s drifts thaw and swell the creeks, that spark flickers and it is then that I know I need to drink it up before it is gone for another season.

 

Although, fresh snow had fallen over night and was still piling up throughout the morning, homework, personal issues and an afternoon hockey game took precedence. I longed to make some turns however, so I loaded the car with all of our gear…just in case. As we rolled out of the Olympic Oval following a disheartening loss at yes, 2:20 p.m., all I really wanted to do was go home and be done with my day.

 

I decided to drive the long route home, past the bottom of Big Cottonwood…just in case.  As I approached the light to turn up, I thought of wasted gas for one hour of skiing, I pondered the darkened sky and my cranky boys who may or may not be joyful about donning all their gear for a measly three runs. It would have been so easy just to pass but, the pull was too strong. It had taken hold and I couldn’t shake it.

 

I gave into my desire to feel the freedom of my heart’s release, even for just a moment. The line of late afternoon traffic crept along side us as we sped along in the opposite direction. 3:00 p.m. at Solitude and there was nothing but an empty parking lot to greet us. The clouds were thinning to reveal strands of bright light from an early spring sun. The trees stood still, glistening in it’s warmth, my children smiled and yes, all became well with my soul.

 

You might ask “Was it worth it, just one hour?”

 

Well, what do you think?

 

“Hark, now hear the sailors cry,

smell the sea, and feel the sky

let your soul & spirit fly, into the mystic…”

Van Morrison

The Yurt Dining Experienced

Oh what a night….

In today’s world people often look for a unique experience that stands out from the routine that generally encompasses our daily lives. A lot of restaurants claim to provide a unique culinary experience for their patrons but my experience at the Solitude Mountain Yurt was truly outstanding in several ways. In today’s world, “foodies” can appreciate a good meal, whether it is down home comfort food to a fine dining experience. With the setup at the Mongolian style yurt located adjacent to the slopes of Solitude you would think that the cuisine would be rudimentary at best. Not so…. It was hard to imagine how the resort would be able to pull off a fine dining experience in a large tent with no electricity and running water located a half a mile up from the village sitting adjacent to the slopes of the resort.

The night started off with the guests assembling at the Thirsty Squirrel bar in the Village located at the base of the mountain. Guests from New York, Alabama, Connecticut, and a some local couples were in for a treat as we socialized before our journey to the yurt. Jaseth, our guide introduced himself and informed us that we would be donning snowshoes for our trek through the woods to the Solitude mountain yurt. We put on our snowshoes and headed out onto the mountain trail under the remaining light of dusk. A purple hue hung in the air while the stars were just appearing in the fading light of the day. As we trekked through the woods you felt yourself get lost in the natural world surrounded by a foot of new powder while the spruce and fir trees stood sentinel throughout the wooded forrest. The trail wound through the woods and had a very comfortable incline that was not too demanding even for the sea level guests that were not accustomed to the elevation. After about 15 to 20 minutes of hiking we emerged from the woods to observe a rather inviting yurt providing a glowing invitation to enter to enjoy a night of dining on the mountain. As we entered you were struck by the ambience of gas lit lanterns lighting two long tables prepared with a display of fine glassware and dishes juxtaposed with the rich wood and rustic look of the table and chairs. It was surprising how spacious the yurt was when considering that our chef Joe had his operation already in full swing taking up a third of the yurt with his seasoned gas Viking range and a large wood preparation table in the middle where he would soon plate the food.
I immediately gravitated to our chef Joe, and commented on the set up inside the yurt. He mentioned that the heat from the gas range served as the main warmth for the yurt as the guests took off their jackets enjoying the comfort that the structure provided.

I have had a previous experience staying in a yurt on an overnight trip in the Uinta Mountains. The structure is basically a tent that is set up over a round octagonal frame and usually features a central wood-burning stove. Jaseth mentioned that the Mongolian tribes have used these structures for generations providing them shelter and the ability to move quickly and efficiently due to their nomadic lifestyle. Unlike the dirt floors the Mongolians use the Solitude yurt has a nice wood decking for the floors. The center ring at the top of the yurt is the heart of the structure and would be passed from father to son in the Mongolian tribes.

After the guests were seated Jaseth mentioned that he had come to Solitude in 2004 seeking the legendary Utah powder he had heard about. Coming from central Mexico he was an unlikely candidate for a powder hound but soon found himself snowboarding over a 100 days a year. He joked that the Yurt was like Vegas, in that what happens at the Yurt, stays at the Yurt…. We were here to enjoy some excellent food, the unique atmosphere, and each other.
I had a chance to talk to our chef Joe before the meal and found his introduction to cooking an interesting story. About 10 years ago he was working on a fishing boat in Alaska and they were looking for a crewmember to be the cook. He jumped at the opportunity figuring it would be a good way to get out of the incessant rain. He fell in love with cooking and found a lot of satisfaction when people enjoyed his cuisine. At Solitude he has the creative license to make his own menu at the Yurt. Another guest had commented that this was his fourth time at the Yurt and has had something different every time. Joe starts his preparation for the dinner early in the afternoon down at St. Bernard’s restaurant selecting menu items that he will use in his 5-course meal. He mentions that he often takes a couple laps on the ski hill and works up the menu in his head. This meal is going to be interesting!

Scallops

Joe previewed the cuisine for the night, which started with a tomato soup with mascarpone cream that had the most interesting sun choke chip in the middle that had the consistency of a potato chip but had an incredible taste.
A salad of mix frieze lettuce with baby kale was topped with a perfectly prepared piece of Salmon drizzled with a warm bacon challotte dressing for the second course. Some blue cheese and pomegranates gave the plate an interesting mix of complementing flavors.

Enjoying our meal

It was funny how the realization that you are up on a mountain in a tented yurt fades into what felt like an experience in one of the finest restraunts around. The expression on the guest’s faces really summed up the environment as everyone was really enjoying the meal.
I took the opportunity to talk to some guests from Alabama and got to laugh with them about their travel stories getting to the greatest snow on earth. Ironically the two groups were both from Alabama and had just met this evening. I asked if this was their first visit to Utah and they mentioned it was. One of the ladies mentioned she had done a bunch of research and had to have the experience of dining at the yurt. Her travel story was interesting in the fact that she was staying here at the village and drove her 4-wheel drive rental car in 2-wheel drive all the way up the canyon. She had white knuckled it all the way up and finally ended up sliding off the road just as she got up to Solitude. Some nice young men came to her rescue and informed her that she had been in 2-wheel drive the whole time. Her husband on the other hand had just as bad as an experience with the airport in Salt Lake closing because of the icing. It forced his plane to stop in Colorado Springs. Then to make matters worse they had a mechanical problem and had to spend the night waiting for parts and a mechanic from Denver to fly down and fix it.

It amazes me the trials people go through to experience a great ski vacation when the locals here (like me) can jump in their car and within 40 minutes be immersed in Solitude..

Scallops. Big ones. In saffron sauce none the less with some amazing greens in the middle that I could not recognize was presented as the third course. I have always found that the sauce is such an influential key to the main element in a dish.

For the main course I was preparing myself for a menu item I am totally unfamiliar with. Moroccan pan seared duck. I have only had duck once before and was quite disappointed. I have always wondered why it was offered at fine dining restraunts as a specialty dish. Well, I have found out. Amazing. It reminded me of lamb in the consistency and tenderness of the meat. Joe prepared it by searing the outside of the duck that is covered by a layer of fat and then the meat. He finished it up in the oven resulting in an amazing taste and flavor not to mention the tenderness of the meat. Yep, I’m a fan of duck now.

Moroccan Pan Seared Duck

The mash potatoes were infused with polenta green beans and added a new dimension to a common menu item.  He accompanied the dish with a pomegranate reduction sauce that complemented the meat so well.  It is a five-course meal after all and I always have room for dessert that can best be described with a picture….

Dessert

 

As we wrapped up the night of fine dining I still marveled at the remarkable experience that the Yurt at Solitude provided us that evening.  As we exited out into the natural world that encompassed us the past couple of hours I realized how special this experience truly is.  The stars shone brightly with orions belt hovering above us as the light of the moon illuminated a cloud just down the canyon.  We hiked back down into reality with our palettes satiated with an incredible evening of wonderful food.   When prepared right food is simply amazing.  I couldn’t help but notice the few people in the village enjoying what seemed a private resort surrounded by a mountain full of incredible skiing.  This is Solitude after all.  I guess I should expect nothing less.

Under the Stars

Life is just a Fantasy

Stairway to Heaven

Fantasy Ridge is OPEN!!   That is what I read today while I sat in the Fire station wishing I was on that ascent to the top of the ridge.  I honestly can’t think of a more exhilarating hike at any resort in the Wasatch.  The route starts at a decent degree of slope and keeps on demanding fitness as you gain elevation rather quickly.  Soon you are looking left  and right and realize that the precipitous drop to oblivion is within several feet on each side of you.   I’m sure the boy’s in Red setting the trail and dropping bombs got their heart rate pumping on this climb.  The views are incredible.  When overlooking Honeycomb Canyon to the right and looking over Twin Lakes to the left you realize you are somewhere special.  Only the sound of your heart pounding and your lungs heaving breaks the silence as you contemplate the route down.  The options are endless and it is a difficult decision sometimes on where to drop in.  You have easy entries into epic powder and some rather technical intro’s that may require a mandatory air somewhere down the line.  Fantasy Ridge always offers a memorable run for skiers with the ability and desire to ski one of the most classic slopes around.  Only at Solitude.