Adventures at the Heber Valley Camp

It’s a busy weekend Chez Johnson. Bode just left on his first winter camp-out with a winter storm advisory in effect (pray for him) and Hadley has a volleyball tournament 1.5 hours away. This is the first time she is attempting to play since her accident so we’ll see how much she’s able to do. My twin nieces are getting baptized tomorrow and did I mention that big winter storm that is bearing down upon us? It should make for a crazy time.

All the Scouts are going to Heber Valley Camp this weekend. The LDS Church owns a smattering of camps throughout Utah and rents them out to the public in the off-season where it’s a madhouse trying to get a reservation. My brother-in-law Jeremy managed to score a one-night stay in one of the cabins and was generous enough to invite us along last year. I can’t believe I didn’t blog about it and just looking at the pictures makes me really sad because it was such an epic snow year. The rustic cabins and yurts aren’t heated but we sure had fun sledding, hiking and playing in the snow!

View from Heber Valley Camp of our little valley

The sledding races (we’re highly competitive)

I’ve been poking fun regarding how cold it will be this weekend but decided I’d better start getting Bode excited about the campout.

Me: “You know I’m just kidding about the cold, right? I’m sure you’ll have a blast this weekend!”

Him: “Do you mean a blast of heat?”

Me: “No, definitely not that.”

When I dropped him off at the church all the 11-year-old Scouts were loading up. Prior to departure, Bode was asked to say the prayer. Now, as a bit of background, Bode has always said THE BEST prayers. When he was younger, I kid you not–his nightmare prayers went on FOREVER–and even now when he’s blessing the food at dinner, he can sometimes ramble on a bit long (I mean, sometimes you just wanna eat). But you know in the book of Matthew when it admonishes against using vain repetitions? That is NOT Bode.

He gave a nice prayer for them to be safe and have a nice time but at the end, my friend Julie and I could barely contain our laughter as he prayed, “Please bless us to think twice before we do anything.”

I hereby vote THIS should be the new Scout motto.


My return to rollerblading glory

I’ve lived in Midway almost eight months and had yet to go rollerblading in my favorite place: Provo Canyon. When I was at BYU, I fell in love with the Provo River Parkway and would park at the base of the canyon and rollerblade up about 10 miles past Bridal Veil Falls to Vivian Park and then race back down the canyon. There is a slight incline the entire way making it a great workout but the ride down was sheer bliss.

Since moving to Colorado almost 15 years ago, I would occasionally come back and rollerblade it so I’ve been chomping at the bit since our move but between unpacking, two feet of snow and trail closures and flooding all spring, the timing wasn’t right.

I decided to make the timing work for me so I woke up one morning last week to go. I grabbed my helmet (something I never wore before), wrist guards and thought I was set. Turns out I should have brought full body armor as well. I made some mistakes on my triumphant return and they included:

1) I forgot I’m not 20 anymore. This covers all subsequent observations.

2) What goes down must come up. When I was in Provo, I started at the base of the canyon and went up. This is how I prefer to do everything–there’s nothing more miserable to me than starting a hike going downhill, only to save the climb for the end. The problem is Midway is at the top of the canyon and I really didn’t want to drive all the way down, rollerblade up and then back down and then have to drive back up. Make sense? It sure did to me. At the time.

2) My rollerblades are about 20 years old and are dire need of being replaced. The wheels are so worn it made climbing the hills really tough. Being out of shape didn’t help either.

3) The cruise down vacillated between being empowering “I LOOOOVE THIS!” and moderately terrifying in places. If you’re never rollerbladed before, there’s really no great way to stop on steep terrain. I used to know every curve and bend so would just go with the flow but I was rusty so had to inch down a few sections like a baby learning to walk.

4) I somehow made it down the canyon without falling and then came the moment of truth: going back up. That’s usually my favorite part and I love the burn of the climb! Rollerblading that 20 miles has never been an issue but between being rusty, out-of-shape and having old roller-blades, it was a tough go. I even debated calling Jamie at one point but powered through it (albeit on a low battery).

A few things I learned before going next time:

I need to buy new rollerblades. Period. I should have replaced mine years ago but I never really went in Denver but now that I live next door to an amazing place, I want back in.

I need to start at the bottom of the canyon and work my way up. I bit off waaaaaay more than I could chew so next time I’ll start mid-way up the canyon and slowly make my rides longer.

My before shot as I exuberantly started out:

My after shot:




Yep, that about tells the story.

Hap Hap Happenings

Our busy winter season is sadly winding down and I’ve been trying to hold on for as long as possible. Here are are few of our happenings:

  • All of our glorious snow is almost gone. In Ambruary. In the mountains, spring is replaced by a not-so glorious mud season before ushering summer. I’d mentally prepared myself for this in April in May but not in February. Winter, come back!
  • Jamie speaks my love language. For Valentine’s Day and our anniversary the following day, he took me hiking and to the Blue Boar Inn, a fine-dining restaurant in Midway. We also had our family’s traditional fondue on Valentine’s Day. Jamie and I vowed not to get each other gifts to save money and for once, we actually stuck to that resolution (as opposed to Christmas when we said the same thing and yet somehow ended up buying each other the exact same gifts–A Magic Bullet blender and the Jason Bourne movie). However, we did get each other cards where we wrote several things we love about each other but as it turns out, all cards are not equal and he bought one of those huuuuuge over-sized ones. That guy wins at everything, including love. 
  • Bode is winding down his third month of Nordic ski lessons at Soldier Hollow. With the dwindling snow totals, it makes parting less sorrowful but I have truly loved volunteering with his class twice a week. I learned to skate ski and once I get my knee problems fixed, I can’t wait to do it again. He is in an awkward intermediate school and will be bumped up to middle school next year so I thought his days of class holiday parties were over until he came home from his Halloween party and told me how lame it was. So, I took over for Christmas and Valentine’s Day. I thought I was soooo over volunteering but I’ve enjoyed holding onto his final, fleeting moments of childhood. If no one is going to step up to help, I’d rather just do it than have nothing at all.
  • Hadley is a teenager with all the boy drama that involves. Not that she tells us anything but we have this glorious thing called text messaging where her love life (or lack thereof) unfolds in all the glories of unrequited teenage angst. She and Jamie have been swapping a virus for weeks. She was finally feeling better but then had a lot of late nights for her science fair project (an ode to–what else–pumpkins and nitrogen in the soil). She didn’t have to do a project because she’s not in Honors Science but as the top student in her class, she was the only one who chose to do a project. Did I mention she made the HONOR ROLL? However, her rundown body caught up with her and I told her she could sleep in as late as she wanted on Saturday but she did much more than that. She came home from school on Friday and took a nap, refusing to wake up for her volleyball team party she had been looking forward to and slept straight through the night, cranking out a whopping 17 hours of sleep. Just like her father–an overachiever.
  • The cat. Still fat.
  • I’ve been keeping busy. I went to a SkiUtah networking event a few weeks ago where I made some great contacts as we skied Sundance (the best kind of networking). My friend Sheri and I have vowed to try to ski together at Park City every week until the end of the season and we had a blast on the mountain last week. A few of us hiked to Stewart Falls a few weeks ago and got some fascinating avalanche training with beacons and probes.  I’ve been on a couple of hikes at Wasatch Mountain State Park but I need to either have the snow stick around forever so I can snowshoe it or just melt. Having snow that isn’t deep enough for snowshoes but not optimal for hiking is jacking up my knees. For the first time in my life, I’m feeling limited and it’s a constant source of frustration. I’m still fortunate to be able to do the things I love but I’m in pain when I do it.

    Park City Snowmamas

    WOW! Trail


    Stewart Falls

  • I feel like I’m in such limbo with work but there isn’t a lot to be done at this point because other people I’m relying on are engaged elsewhere. The kids are going to the acclaimed Keystone Science School this summer (thanks to a campaign I’m doing for Mile High Mamas) so Jamie and I will have five glorious days to ourselves in Colorado’s backcountry after dropping them off. I’ve been researching a lot of options but one is finalized: we’ll be staying at The Broadmoor after we pick them up, the perfect reward after several days of roughing it.
And the great finale of our happenings (crammed into one big paragraph):
Tomorrow is my birthday and we’re skiing Alta. We have new friends coming over tonight to play games, and our house is slowly coming together. We’ve taken a hiatus over the winter with projects but come spring, we’ll be delving in full-throttle organizing the garage, setting up shelves and putting in our yard. Jamie and I confessed we won’t truly love this house until we can finish the basement, something we can’t afford to do. (And I try not to focus on the fact that everything was done at our Colorado home and we were in a good place financially). My parents sent me some birthday money and I bought a cute mirror for our front entrance. By downsizing from a two-story house to a ranch with only one great room, a constant struggle is the kids don’t have anywhere to put their backpacks and schoolwork so our living room constantly looks like a bomb exploded. Our mudroom/laundry room is super small and inconvenient so we’ve debated moving our washer/dryer to the basement and building lockers/storage closets for all their c-r-a-p but again, that takes money. So, a temporary fix is I bought a beautiful console for the living from an upscale furniture consignment store in Park City and it has helped alleviate the mess. For now.

It has been six months some we left our beloved Colorado. In some ways, it feels like we’ve been here forever and in other ways, I wonder when we’ll finally feel settled. I read a quote this week that really hit home.

Sometimes it’s hard to watch other people “succeeding” when you feel like you keep getting knocked on your face. I get that. It’s hard to watch friends and family and peers storm “ahead” when you feel like you’re indefinitely stuck at ground zero. But from a life that’s been chopped down at the knees more than once, let me tell you… ground zero is a sacred space to be. Don’t wish it away in yearning for the mountain top. There is so much this space will give you…if you let it. Stop looking 10 miles ahead, and spend a moment or two taking in the totality of where you currently are. The juxtaposition of beauty and ashes is REAL, take it from me. But many of us miss this completely in our mad dash attempt to be anywhere but “here.” And I get that. Because pain is real, hurt is significant, fear is debilitating. Even so, trust me when I say, don’t pass over dollars to pick up dimes. What you have the potential to find in the rubble of your life, if you’ll just stop and LOOK, is beyond your wildest imaginings and will serve to propel you on to spaces and places you currently don’t have the capacity to foresee. Pinkie swear. Hang in there, beautiful you. God is on your side. -Natalie Norton

Duly noted and a much-needed reminder: we can do this.

January: Midway’s magical month of snow

I haven’t had a winter like this since I was a wee lassie growing in Canada. The Heber Valley has had an endless barrage of glorious, fluffy snow and I don’t want it to end. Sadly, we’re kicking off February with 40-degree temps but I’m hoping “Ambruary” won’t let me down.

Since moving here late-September, we’ve tried to limit our schedule to church and the occasional activity. Bode played soccer in the fall and has continued with Webelos. Hadley has weekly Young Women activities and Science Club (she’s thrilled to be doing a snowshoeing field trip today to learn about how animals adapt in the wintertime). It’s a bonus to have world-class mountains right in your backyard.

But now we’re full speed ahead. The kids are doing a six-week downhill ski rec program on Saturdays that will end mid-February. Bode and I Nordic ski twice a week at Soldier Hollow while Hadley has volleyball at the same time. Bode (and maybe Hadley) started piano last week and as much as I try to limit extracurricular activities so we can maximum family time, being busy is working well for us in the winter.  I hate the thought of them hunkering down down with their technology during these dark and cold winter nights.

Here are a few January highlights:


I’ve never done so much snowshoeing in my life! Our texting group is 35 women and growing and I’ve loved getting to know these fabulous women.

Wasatch Mountain State Park

Dutch Hollow

Ice Castles

Just when I thought our resort town couldn’t get any cooler (literally), we spent one evening exploring the Midway Ice Castles’ crystal grottoes with shifting translucent white and petrol blue lights in scalloped ice. 

It would have been a scene out of a Russian fairy tale had I not biffed it GETTING ON (not off) the 50-foot ice block slide. My bruised ego and butt are more of the Brothers Grimm genre.


I ventured out to Park City with some ladies a few weeks ago and we’re doing round 2 tomorrow. I enjoy being by myself for most activities but downhill skiing is not one of them. I love hanging out on the lift with these fellow Snowmamas!

I’ve enjoyed spending every Tuesday and Thursday Nordic skiing with Bode at Soldier Hollow Olympic Center and had an epiphany last week: As much as I love downhill, I actually prefer X-country skiing. I find it much easier to connect with nature and the workout is intense. We tried skate skiing for the first time last week and if my knees weren’t shot, I’d probably trade in my classic skis for skate–that gets your heart pumping like nothing else! 

This week, Soldier Hollow is hosting the USANA FIS Nordic Junior & U23 World Ski Championships 2017. It has been so fun to see 750 athletes from 40 nations in our little community.

Of course, nothing will ever compare to the time I was on a flight with the Austrian Men’s Ski Team. Hubba. Hubba.


We’ve been trying to ski Alta for more than a year and last week was finally our time! Until it wasn’t. We drove up Sunday after church, settling in for the night at Goldminer’s Daughter Lodge. And then an intense storm blew through, Little Cottonwood Canyon was closed due to avalanche danger and “Maximum Interlodge” was declared. Interlodge means you’re on lockdown indoors but “Maximum Interlodge” also involves staying away from windows and doors. 

Many details to follow on this crazy 24 hours but suffice it to say, we did not ski.


We had a grand ol’ time sledding Lime Canyon on Martin Luther King Junior Day.

So much so that when my friend Sarah announced she was throwing a sledding birthday party for her son, Charlie, I volunteered. She had posted some cool pictures of her husband Ben’s secret haunt toward Cascade Springs and I wanted IN.

The powder was thigh-deep in places and we hiked about a half-mile to the start of the hill (not to mention hauling sleds up and down).

It wasn’t as idyllic as it looked, believe me. Case in point: Bode’s awesome wipeout.

And then the real misery began as we were hiking out. As Sarah and I cut trail through the deep snow for a half a mile, her husband and I pulling the injured birthday boy and cold friend on their sleds while she sacrificed her gloves and carried two sleds and helmets in 17 degrees, she commented,

“I mean, really. This is next level crazy.”

And then she glanced over at me, Miss Maximum Interlodge, and said nothing.

I think they’re onto me.

Sledding Lime Canyon in Midway

Despite living in the gorgeous Heber Valley, I’ve been surprised by the lack of information about quality places to sled. Soldier Hollow offers the longest tubing lanes in Utah but it’s lift-serviced and costs money. Beyond that, there are small pockets of hills whose locations the locals won’t disclose. And who can blame them?

So, I was happy to hear someone recommend Lime Canyon as a great place to sled in Midway. Located a few miles behind the Zermatt Resort, we found a powder-perfect playground on Martin Luther King Jr. Day with our friends, Zoie and Jonas.

Bode: future sled model

We had a blast but we arrived at the hill just as the shadows were creeping in and the lack of sunlight made it cold. Bitterly bold. So we only lasted an hour.

Yes, there is such a thing as too much powder when sledding!

The Slow Crawl to the Summit

The tween declared “I’m too old for sledding,” and I vehemently disagreed, taunting her that I’M never too old for anything.

Until she turned the sledding hill into her personal skeleton track and I declared I’m too old for THAT.

A Friday the 13th Snowshoeing Adventure

Wasatch Mountain State Park is literally right in our backyard. Since we moved to Midway in late-September we haven’t had a lot of opportunities to explore with the exception of the Dutch Hollow Trail System…it seems every time I plan or attend a hiking or snowshoeing event, it is there!

I started a private Facebook group for “Heber Valley Outdoor Families” and posted that the state park was hosting a Friday the 13th Full Moon Snowshoe event.  We had a lot of interest and decided to just do our own thing to avoid paying the $7 and I’m so glad we did; the state park had more than 100 people RSVP. Welcome to mountain living!

Since I’m unfamiliar with the trail system here, I knew I wanted to go somewhere with great views so that led us to the Heber Valley Overlook Loop at (where else) Dutch Hollow.  We had received more than two feet of fresh powder that week so conditions were optimal and a fun challenge for snowshoeing.

I made it a date night so it was fun to have The Husbands along with one exception: men are all about competition. Suddenly, our leisurely snowshoe hikes of yesteryear were gone and we were huffing and puffing our way to the top. But once was reached our two different summits, we chatted, laughed and played in the snow as we gazed down at the Heber Valley. Sadly, the full moon was ensconced in clouds but that didn’t make the evening any less gorgeous–there is something so surreal and raw about venturing into the backcountry at night.

Disclaimer: This selfie took almost as much time to take as the hike itself. But both were totally worth it!

Monarch Mountain: A perfect family ski vacation

I learned to ski on a tiny two-lift hill within Calgary, Canada’s city limits. As much as I love exploring large ski areas, I feel drawn to these smaller homegrown resorts that are solely about the skiing without the pomp, circumstance and inflated prices. A place where everyone knows your name…and that I don’t drink beer and my name is not Norm.

Monarch Mountain is such a place. Located 150 miles from Denver via U.S. 285, this small ski resort has soaring elevations, stellar family terrain, unbeatable views and big snow (it is second only to Wolf Creek for the biggest snow totals in Colorado). Unlike Summit County’s sardine-packed resorts, Monarch has no neighbors and there’s nothing fake about it—including the all-natural snow.

Click here to keep reading about our many adventures on the mountain, as well as our glorious stay at Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort.

Midway Mountain Mamas

Following an almost perfect reunion tour of Colorado, I almost dreaded our reentry into the real world. Would we be sad we moved here and pine to go back?

When we drove into our little valley, this sunset was blazing over a foot of fresh snow. A well cared for Fat Kitty greeted us at home and a thoughtful neighbor had plowed our steep driveway.

Deer Creek Reservoir

It isn’t Colorado but it’s still pretty darn great.

Fortunately, we were forced to launch back into school and work immediately so there was minimal time for mourning.

A huge dump of snow also brought frigid temperatures so I reminded Bode of what my Canadian forefathers said: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”

We repeated that 100X during his Nordic ski lesson.

Hadley is the kind of kid who does not like to be jam-packed with activities. She loves and needs her down-time so we didn’t enroll her in anything for the first four months we moved here. She resisted my pressuring to take ski lessons with Bode but asked to play volleyball so she started the local rec program last week. Almost immediately afterwards, I took her over to the church to play basketball with the Young Women. Since I have brain damage and a difficult time saying “no” (and an over-easy time inviting myself to new situations), I stayed to play with the girls, my first game in 20 years. I had forgotten about how much fun basketball is!

When I woke up the next morning? NotSoFun.  This darn knee will be the death of me!

That morning was sunny and -15 degrees.

Bode: I sure wish I didn’t have to walk to the bus stop.”

Me: (Sipping hot tea wrapped in a blanket): “Yeah, me too.”

It’s a tough world being raised by a Canadian mom.

Before the holidays, I started a Facebook group “Heber Valley Outdoor Families” for any locals who want to get out and play. Around the same time, my friend Sarah went snowshoeing and asked if anyone was interested. Her texting group is 35 women strong and growing. We had our first adventures this week! It was really cold when I left the house on Saturday morning but had warmed up to a balmy 0 degree by 10 a.m. That didn’t stop this tough bunch of ladies and we had a blast breaking trail in the glorious snow.

Yep, I’m missing Colorado but it’s tough to feel sad when we live in such an amazing place and are making wonderful new friends.

Soldier Hollow’s Youth League

When you live 5 miles away from the cross-country skiing venue of the 2002 Olympic Games, you’d better believe making it a part of your lives is a priority. The problem? I’m the only one in our family who loves to Nordic Ski. I grew up on the groomed track of the golf course across the street from my house and love love love that I’m finally living in a place that has a real winter.

Jamie claims he (somehow) got a concussion going 0.001-mile per hour the first time I took him cross-country skiing in Canada. He’s reluctantly skied a few times but claims it’s too much work and not as fun as downhill. Hadley took to it right away. When we were in Crested Butte a few years ago, our guide told her if she was local, she’d recruit her to train with the Junior Olympic Nordic Team. The problem? She had a horrible experience last winter at Snow Mountain Ranch so the one with the most potential refuses to go.

Fortunately, there is Bode who is the most easy-going bloke around so I enrolled him in Soldier Hollow’s Youth League. For just $150, he gets a season pass, twice weekly lessons for almost three months and rentals. For every two times I volunteer, I earn a free trail pass and rentals of my own.

Pinch me, this place is a dream.

Bode’s good buddy Eli is enrolled as well and I was thrilled to learn two other friends have kids in the exact same class. I know Midway is a small town but what are the odds? Bode is a strong downhill skier but has really taken to Nordic as well so I foresee many adventures in our future.

So, this is how we’ll be spending every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon this winter.

Sunset after the first day of classes

Already, 2017 is shaping up to be a good one.

Top 15 Park City Adventures in the Fall

I’ve long skied Park City in the winter, cruised down the alpine coaster in the summer but have never been there in the off-season.  Park City’s fall has unfolded like a gorgeous wave, starting with the crimsons and burnt oranges of the oaks and maples, and ending with the pure liquid aspen gold.

Though I’ve wanted to adventure daily, I’ve been limited on time between chauffeuring kids, household chores and work but I’ve made a point to get out at least a few times a week. Near the end of our stay, I stopped in to White Pine Touring for a map of area trails and was pleased to discover I’d managed to hit all the major hubs. Not bad for a rookie!

Here’s a recap of my Park City adventures:

1) Biking around the base of Park City Canyons Village did not suck. Their $21 hamburgers did. 

2) Biking the Millennium Trail from the townhome to Gorgoza Park. This paved trail system provides connectivity throughout the Snyderville Basin and Park City and goes for miles.

3) Willow Creek Trail. This was a fun one to unearth. I was planning to explore the trail that winds down to Historic Main Street when I discovered the Willow Creek trail system that winds around 66 acres of undeveloped open space under a conservation easement with Utah Open Lands. Willow Creek Park is one of the best in Park City.

4) No worries, I took the trail to downtown Park City another day and was not disappointed.

5) Nighttime strolls up to the base of Canyons Village and fun photo filters. This was taken literally right outside our door.

6) Shoe Tree Park. This one was a delight to uncover during my bike ride along the McCleod Trail/ Willow Creek/Hwy 224 Connector  that extends from Kimball Junction to Downtown Park City. You know a town is cool when it has a funky park with shoes, cowboy boots and even ski boots in the trees.

And strange red moss nearby.

7) Deer Valley is a splurge but for girl’s night, we had a glorious time exploring the trails adjacent to the St. Regis. Luxury ain’t free but these fall colors were.

8) If you’re going to do just one exploration in Park City, I highly recommend following the paved trail to the picturesque white barn known as the “McPolin Farm.” Heaped in history, this 100-year-old barn received national status as an Historic Landmark.

Launching kids in the air en route: highly recommended.

9) Most of my mountain biking expeditions had been on paved or easy trails but this was my foray into singletrack and it might be my favorite fall ride ever! Skid Row: I highly recommend it. #ThingsINeverWould HaveSaidBeforeMovingtoParkCity

10) One of my longtime bloggers connected me with her sister Sheri who moved to Park City last year. You’ll never find me in her hot yoga class but a friendship was borne as we climbed Ecker Hill.

11) Trailside Park. I took a different route home from dropping off the kids and stumbled upon an irresistible network of trails and bike park. When I got out of the car to explore in the rain (without the proper gear, of course), the song “I hope you never lose your sense of wonder” played on the radio. No chance of that with wonders around every corner in Park City.

12) My friend Kristen lives in my dream home in Jeremy Ranch. Literally right at her fingertips is the Glenwild Area’s expansive network of trails. She, Lexi and I had so much fun exploring one day…

…that I had to return a few days later to explore the Flying Dog Trail. 

13) Guardsman Pass Scenic Byway connects Heber to Park City to Salt Lake City. I have only three words for this view of the Heber Valley: Oh. My. Gosh.

14) Round Valley wasn’t particularly scenic (unless you like sage brush and scrub oak) but for the novice mountain biker, it’s a pretty amazing place. I tackled a couple of different trailheads: hiked from The Cove (and got a bit lost before meeting Jamie for lunch) and mountain biked Silver Quinn–the paved trail from Quinn’s Junction–to City Park and then hopped on the adjacent singletrack for a wild ride on Rambler. 

14) The Rail Trail is a highly-touted abandoned railroad corridor-turned-non-motorized path that travels 28 miles out of town. I biked 6 miles from the White Pine Touring trailhead to Prospector and it was so underwhelming (unless you like cows that run in front of you) that I did a big loop by biking along the Old Highway 40, crossing to the other side, following Silver Quinn through City Park and then reconnecting with the Rail Trail. At least the ride back was considerably more scenic. Sorry, bovines. You needed to MOOOOVE over.

15) Mid-Mountain. My friend Dave has been raving about his love for mountain biking the famed Mid-Mountain trail at Park City resort for years. An intimate and spectacular trail that sits at about 8,000 feet, it spans 28 miles. There are many options for places to start, one of the most popular being Silver Lake Lodge at Deer Valley. Since we lived at the “finish line” a.k.a. Canyons Village, I planned to do it backwards…but didn’t realize it’s quite a trek just to reach mid-mountain. And so I did a couple of mini-treks that started right in our Sun Peak neighborhood at Rob’s Trail. The problem: I was always short on time so could only hike a couple of miles. 

On another day, I set out to walk around the Sun Peak neighborhood when I discovered a higher access point for Rob’s trail so did a big loop but was frustrated not to have time to reach Mid-Mountain. I came home and ranted to Jamie [without taking a breath]: “I started to take a neighbor walk but then discovered even more trails and I had to take them even though I didn’t have any time, water or supplies and there are even more trails I have to go back and explore because I couldn’t hike them all today and I’ll NEVER be able to hike them all and…curse you, Park City!”

Jamie [without flinching]: “I don’t know if you’re lying to me or you’re lying to yourself.”#TheEntireDynamicOfOurMarriageSummedUp

A week later, I set out to hike that higher access point for Rob’s Trail off Bear Hollow Drive. I was pressed for time: we had our house’s walk-through that afternoon so I needed to make it quick. From the very beginning, it was absolutely my favorite hike in Park City.

I was having a grand ol’ time minding my own business when, for the first time, I saw the turnoff for Mid-Mountain. Could the Holy Grail of Park City backcountry be near? I checked my watch; I was running out of time. I was determined to get as far as I could and, if needs be, turn around. I ran into two women who’d just returned from Mid-Mountain and I breathlessly asked how much farther. They checked their altimeter. “You have about 1 mile to go.” I kicked it into high-gear with a faster hiking pace and nothing, NOTHING could have prepared me for what awaited me when I turned the last bend to see the very cradle of the mountain in a pathway of golds and greens.

Mid-Mountain was everything I’d dreamed of…and so much more. I could have explored for hours but I was on deadline. For the first time in over a year, I ran. At first, I was tentative to spare my knee but after a few minutes, the familiar rhythm returned to me and I blissfully raced down the mountain, rejoicing how much I missed this freedom of flight and I NEEDED to get back into it.

Until I woke up the next morning and realized I had twisted my uninjured knee and it took me a full week to recover. But you’d better believe Mid-Mountain was worth it.