Rave Hike – A high alpine, flowering beauty for the whole family

Needle's Cirque, Hiking Snowbasin Resort

As a family we have a list of rules to live by. For example:

Rule 1: Never put off an adventure for tomorrow, when you can do it today.

Rule 2: If you wait for everything to be perfect… You’ll never go.

As the summer heats up, I find myself yearning for the crisp alpine air come Friday. All the local trails are now too hot on most days, and so we headed up to Snowbasin last weekend to escape. And as you’ll see, this particular day became a rule 3 day.

Rule 3: Why not?

Snowbasin has a plethora of hiking trails perfect for the whole family. Whether it is the family loop near the base, Maples Trail from the lower parking lot or an epic all day hike on the Needles Trail from the base, you will be rewarded with lush greenery and sparkling peaks.

Over the holiday weekend we took the family up with a modest hiking goal: Take the Needles Gondola up and hike up the cirque to overlook Ogden and the Great Salt Lake. Then head back for lunch at the lodge.

After riding up the gondola, we started up the Cirque Practice Loop trail. There was still some snow for the kids and the pups to frolic in. A well defined trail branches off from the Cirque Loop and heads up some steeper switchbacks to the ridge. Indian Paint Brush and Bluebells nodded their blooms to the beat of the wind. The view was glorious.

Hiking into the cirque

It was so perfect in fact, no one was ready to be done once we accomplished our original goal. Why not follow the single track trail north and summit a few of the minor peaks? So we did, following cairns and then heading straight up the ridge to the top.

But of course the day was going so well, the kids were hiking strong and Mount Ogden was just over from us, its rocky summit beaconing. We had plenty of water, plenty of snacks, and everyone felt strong. So… why not?

We scrambled down to the “road” that comes up from the Porcupine Trail. The road and trail to the summit of Mount Ogden is not for the faint of heart. I’d suggest hikers are comfortable with loose rock, a steep incline, and  scrambling hands-and-feet to the towers at the top. Everyone in the group did fantastic, kids included. Though I will admit I was a bit nervous with the kids at the summit. It is not a place to let them run free and explore as there are cliffs on the north side.

Peering over the ridge at the top of the cirque

Peering over the ridge at the top of the cirque.

We headed back the way we came, dodging the previous summits and sticking to the trail all the way back to the Needles Lodge.

We missed lunch that day, our hike exceeded our original intentions. But as we descended on the gondola, we looked back up at Mount Ogden’s impressive summit. We could now say we’d been there. And while our stomachs protested our missing of lunch at the lodge, everyone was both refreshed and exhausted from a good day’s adventure.

Not one bit of the hike along the ridge-line was wasted energy. The flowers and views are truly glorious. And I left truly impressed with what my kids could accomplish.

This hike is fantastic for families and visitors, showcasing the best parts of the Wasatch Range and offering birds-eye views of the valleys on either sides. You can turn and head back at any point. But at-least set your goal on the ridge above the cirque. You will not regret it.

Stats:

  • Mileage to top of Cirque: .7 miles
  • Total RT Mileage: 4.6 miles
  • Total Moving Time: 2h 20 minutes

map hiking Mt Ogden from Needles Lodge

When Storms Align [and its parents day off!]

dropping in to powder bliss

Time for a little confession. I spend way too much time scrolling my Instagram feed, dreaming of being on that beach, in those mountains, in knee-deep powder, above those clouds.  And while my life is full of the outdoors, my life is also full of family, in the form of three young kids. Their smiles enchant me. Their minds teach me to see the world in ways I never would have. But when the storms roll through the Wasatch and my single, kid-free friends head out the door in search of untouched lines, I feel a twinge of, “ugh”. And when they return full on stoke, I glance around the house, bidding my time.

Confession number two. I have learned from experience, that a few “adult days” a year make me a better parent. And by Monday of last week, the weekend couldn’t come soon enough. This time it was Chris and my turn to hit the slopes kid free! I didn’t even care what the weather brought.

By mid-week, I was quietly holding my breath, as storms and moisture were rolling across Utah. It looked as though something more than luck was guiding my week. Our randomly planned ski day was lining up with 6-12” of new snow. I could hardly believe it!

Sunday morning we dropped two kids off for a full-day of ski school and our youngest at the Snowbasin day care. The instructor looked me straight in the eye and said, “I’ve got them from here, you hurry and jump on Needles! There is still fresh powder out there for ya!” Ah… nothing like the presence of kindred spirits! He knew just what I was thinking.

And it turned out there was more than a little leftovers. Having been closed the previous day, Strawberry opened at 10:30 and we had fresh tracks all morning long.

I was finally IN those Instagram photos. I was living in my own special paradise.

Looking off Elk Ridge, powder day fresh tracks off Strawberry

When the powder was all devoured. When our tummies were full on creamy soup and hot pizza from John Paul Lodge. When our souls were brimming over with mountain glory, we returned to our three kids.

Three kids who rocked all day lessons, made new friends, excelled at new skills. We returned to instructors that were still smiling despite a long day on the job. We returned to a toddler who took a 1 hr private lesson in the middle of the day, and then spent the rest of her time making crafts and playing. We returned to the friendliest day care employees I’ve ever encountered and kids who didn’t want the day to end. Secretly I didn’t want it to either.

But paradise will be waiting for another day.

Don’t sit at home wishing you were elsewhere. Make a plan. Get out there. Snowbasin wants to give you the day off. This next powder storm might just be yours.

Parents day off on the slopes

5 Safety Tips For Families On the Slopes

Tips for Successful Family Skiing

Every fantastic adventure is made successful (in part) by abiding certain guidelines. For instance, backcountry skiers require knowledge of terrain, avalanche conditions, and rescue for a successful day.

But what about a simple family trip up to a resort? We’ve found the same goes for families and our in-bounds ski/snowboarding adventures. As our kids have progressed beyond the bunny slope, we’ve found it helpful and somewhat necessary to set some guidelines. Below are rules that everyone, kid and parent, should know.

1. Set a meeting place.

This is a great tip for large groups and families. Set a meeting place in a centralized location just incase you lose someone. It is incredibly easy, especially on busy weekends, to lose your kid or your friend. Before you even jump on the lift, make plans for lunch (time/place) so everyone can reconnect. Do the same thing for the end of the day. Don’t rely on cell phones! There have been many times where I lost service, or battery power, and wished I’d relied on “old-school” principles.

2. Discuss with your kids a safe place to stop on a run.

Kids (and beginners) do not naturally know where/when it is safe to stop and when it is not. This can be an abstract concept to explain but here a few tips:

  • Stop on the side of runs, not the middle.
  • Stop before you drop below a hill, not just after.
  • Be aware of skiers to the sides and behind you, before coming to a quick stop.
  • If you can see the uphill skiers above you, then there is a good chance they can see you.

3.Know the rules in Terrain Parks

I love, love, love that they are making terrain parks for kids and beginners, not just the experts. My kids spend hours flying off the jumps and attempting rails. But there are certain ‘rules’ that many kids are not aware of.

For instance, they should stop at the top of the terrain park and wait in line for their turn. Not just blow through unaware of the other riders waiting.

They should also be aware of signals they might see and/or use. Arms crossed if a skier is down, arms in a circle if it is safe to proceed. If your kids are really young, stay with them in the terrain park so you can signal to other riders if they fall in a blind spot. I had to do this once or an adult rider would have landed on my 5-year-old son had I not thrown up the “crossed-arms” signal.

Terrain Park Rules, Kids should know

4. Discuss ways to cross a run and looking for uphill traffic.

Unlike crossing the street, the skier who is crossing a run does not have the right-of-way. In fact, the uphill skier does. But I cannot tell you how many times my kids have (and still do) charge into a run, completely unaware of riders coming down at them.

I like to think of this like crossing a street. Stop. Look. Proceed with caution.

5. Help your kids identify “safe strangers.”

This tip piggy-backs off our first point, set a meeting place. But what if you forget too? What if you never meet up? What if you lose a kid?

My husband and I spend some time asking them who is safe to ask for help should they become injured or separated from us. Ski Patrollers, Lift Operations and Guest Services workers are great examples of “safe strangers.” And at many resorts, these people have noticeable jackets or uniforms making them easy to spot. Help your kids become acquainted with resort employees should they need them at some point.

Guest Services at Snowbasin

A few simple tips and rules, can save you time, hassle, and worry when exploring the slopes with your kids and friends.

What are your tips?

Life Lessons on the Slopes

Riding the Little Cat Express

Muhammad Ali said,

“Friendship is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”

Friendship. That one great connection we seek as individuals.

It is easy, as an adventure family, to forget that my kids are made in the same mold I am. Sure I want to hit the slopes, taste the powder, and breath the bluebird skies. But what I treasure most are the laughs between chair tower 9 and 10. In short, the camaraderie of adventuring with friends.

As our kids have grown, we’ve worked tirelessly to keep the bar high on our “adventure quota” as a family. But I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t often think of bringing my kid’s friends along. Sometimes I am barely managing those who dwell within the walls of my own home!

But kids are motivated in the same ways we are. If you are looking to motivate a reluctant skier, bring their friends, and their heart will come along with them.

Bring a friend on ski days

This last weekend, we brought a friend (and his mom) and introduced them to Snowbasin for the first time. After all it is “Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month.” So why not spread the love? My son and his friend enjoyed a morning ski lesson with the Grizzly Cub Kids and then skied together the rest of the afternoon.

And while it was just another sunny ski day for me, it was probably the highlight of the season for my kids. It was their turn to whoop as they aired off the rollers under the Little Cat Express. To giggle themselves into snowbanks and laugh between chair tower 9 and 10. It was crazy and chaotic and fun.

It is priceless to watch them grow in their friendships… and to realize I have a few things to learn about friendship myself. Like the fact that even though I have a “friendship” with my kids, I will always be their mom. They are motivated from their friends in a way they aren’t from me. That is OK. It will be those friends that dig them out of a tree well or shadow them down a chute when I am far too old to keep up anymore.

So ski with your kids and invite a friend! Give them an mountain experience. Give them the gift of friendship on the slopes.  Give them something they can only learn in the school of the mountains.

Kids skiing together, friendship