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September 12, 2008

Thursday, Mid Mountain Trail

Filed under: MTB Travel, Park City 2007 — anotherheader @ 8:50 pm

Come along for the ride....

Today the plan was to ride Mid Mountain Trail from end to end. Mid Mountain extends from Deer Valley to a bit past Canyons staying near 8,000 feet elevation for a total distance of around 23 miles.

We departed the house and headed to the Park City bus station dropping a long flight of steps on the way. With the absence of tourists and focused bustle of the workers struggling to complete the multitude of outdoor construction projects before the looming snow comes, nobody was around to complain about a little urban free riding wrought by a couple of middle-aged would be ruffians.

The plan was to take the free bus up to Silver Lake, the upper village area in Deer Valley, saving us some significant climbing. The Park City buses have bike racks on the front. Our bikes would not fit, but the driver said to bring them inside. Off we went in the bus up the hill. All too soon, the bus driver stopped at the Snow Park Lodge in the lower village area of Deer Valley. We hung out in the bus waiting to go the Silver Lake. Seeing that we apparently weren’t leaving the bus anytime soon, the driver told us that this was the end of the line and that the bus only went to Silver Lake during the summer and winter. Well, I guess I didn’t think of that, having only been to Park City in the summer and the winter.

Mid-Mountain Trail

Mid-Mountain Trail in the Park City Mountain Resort

Mid-Mountain Trail in the Park City Mountain Resort

Out of bus we went. We were short a 1,000 feet, optimistically calculated, of climbing at altitude to reach the Mid Mountain Trailhead. But at least we avoided the short road ride from Park City to Deer Valley. Now the climbing

began in earnest. With some advice from a Deer Valley maintenance worker, offered on seeing our confused expressions, we headed up the hill on dirt. There were no problems at first as the double track turned to singletrack and the trail wound its way into the glowing aspens. Eventually, the nearly complete lack of trail signs (they must have been removed for the ski season, lest the multitude of skiers get confused by microscopic bike trail signs for trails heading in directions they couldn’t possibly think of going), the frequent obliteration of trails due to the ongoing construction, and our collective incisive navigational skills took its toll. We were not where we thought we were on the map. In fact, we were not even sure that the map even included our possible position. As Bill’s GPS languished in the back of his Camelback, we took what had to be the hardest possible climbing route up to the Snow Park Lodge. Our route included portions of the a former World Cup Downhill course that would only be considered a reasonable climbing route if all of the surrounding area was intensely radioactive and a pack of rabid poodles was nipping at your heels. OK, maybe there are some other scenarios where the WC Downhill course would have been considered a reasonable climb, but they would have been equally implausible and unlikely.

Mid Mountain Trail in the PCMR

Mid Mountain Trail in the PCMR

Gasping for air, dreaming of food, and fearing the return of the rabid poodles (maybe that last part was the altitude), we eventually found the Snow Park Lodge. Just as we were starting to consider whether we had brought enough to eat for the lengthy remainder of the ride, a restaurant appeared like a mirage right next to the Mid Mountain trailhead. Talk about a replacement for power food! We gorged ourselves in refined comfort at the Stein Eriksen Lodge overlooking the changing colors of the ski resort and within eyeshot of the “other” beautiful people. Interestingly, the wait staff seemed peculiarly pleased that we preferred an outdoor table away from the other guests.

After lunch and with our prerequisite extensive search for a trailhead that was a mere 100 feet from our dining table, we embarked on Mid Mountain Trail. The trail passes through beautiful forests of green pine and yellow aspens and transits the utter devastation wrought upon the hillside by construction in the name of manicured ski runs. Our pace would be best be described as just slightly below hurling speed. Perhaps you are not familiar with the meaning of “hurling speed”. The term has something to do with the very large and exceptionally unhealthy lunch we just inhaled. We respectfully leave the rest of the definition as an exercise for the reader.

The section of Mid Mountain Trail we rode stays between 7,600 and 8,300 feet. The trail rolls up and down into dark and damp evergreen forested drainages and out onto spines covered with golden leaved aspens. As the trail moves north, it crosses over ski runs covered with dense, dieing yellow-colored grasses tinged with the oranges and reds of autumn. As the trails cross the open areas of the ski runs, panoramic vistas of the valley can be seen.

The ski runs we passed are first from the Deer Valley Resort and then from the Park City Mountain Resort. If we continued on, we would have eventually been crossing the runs of The Canyons, the mostly northerly of the Park City area resorts. I say “if” as the time was running late with the delays from the unexpected climb from Hell and the subsequent impromptu refueling stop. Once our lunch had a chance to be digested, we made good progress on the trail, ripping through the trail segment in the Park City Resort area at max speed meeting only one cyclist all day. Nevertheless, when we reached the last bail out point before a long, exit-less stretch of Mid Mountain Trail, we had less two hours of sun left and more than half of the trail remaining. As the temperatures were dropping rapidly, we descended Thaynes Road. Next, after our customary grid search for the Spiro trailhead, we dropped Spiro at high rates of speed.

Still on Mid Mountain!

Still on Mid Mountain!

Spiro is a slot car track style trail that descends through scrub, pine, and colored aspen on the face of a ridge. Near the bottom of Spiro, moving at warp speed, I came up on a hiker with her dog. Fortunately, the sight lines were good and I was able to bring the speed down to plausible while disguising the furious breaking that was occurring. I stopped for a moment to pet her goldie and say hello. She had a broken arm, so I suspect that walking the dog was not her primary thing. When Bill was in sight, I headed on down the hill. As I was leaving, she said “Nice bike.” Bill heard this, I think. All I know is later in the evening he was furiously arranging for a wire transfer to Passion so he also could have a hot, chick-magnet ride as soon as possible.

Overall, we were out around 5 hours, including breaks. It was another great ride on another beautiful day. There is one problem in paradise, though. The TV still does not work. Could someone please call Bill before he drives me crazy (or crazier, depending on your perspective)!



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