Monday, August 27: Salt Lake City
Today is our last full day. The plan was to go back to Snowbird, this time with Amy. Doing this is something that Mike has been talking about literally for half or most of the trip.
It is an interesting symmetry that one of the first things we did on this trip was to go to Snowbird and it is also one of the last.
We got up, had breakfast, and headed out. The plan was that Amy and Mike would get the full pass, and I would get just a tram pass. We would take the tram up together, and then hike down to the Peruvian Chair. Amy and Mike would take the chair back down, while I would hike down. Amy and Mike would then ride the flier, the alpine slide, etc., until I got down an hour or two later.
When we got to snowbird, we found that our plans were in tatters.
We first checked the fliers to see if Amy wanted to do them. But then were not running. I also noticed that the chair to the top of the alpine slide wasn’t running either. It turns out that none of the “extras” were running. Yesterday had been their last day! From now on, they would only be running on weekends.
So it was time for plan-B. There was a small sign in the tram room saying that the Peruvian Chair (which was not currently running) would run from 12 to 6. It was now about 10:30. So the new plan was that we would take the tram to the top. I would start hiking down. Amy and Mike would kill time on the summit and then take the chair down at 12.
However, halfway up the tram, we learned that the sign had been wrong. The chair only runs from 12 to 6 on weekends now. The only way off of the summit was to take the tram or walk.
We spent a few minutes admiring the views from the summit. I wouldn’t have minded doing some hiking around the different peaks and/or hiking down. Amy wouldn’t have minded hiking down, but Mike really did not want to do any hiking. So when the bell rang indicating that the tram was loading to go down, we boarded and went down on it.
Unfortunately, that was the extent of Michael’s glorious return to Snowbird (although he did get a new tee-shirt).
We got a slice of pizza each for lunch, again echoing our first visit. Then we left.
The receptionist at the hotel had told us the previous day that if we continue up Little Cottonwood Canyon, we would come to Secret Lake. It sounded like it was worth the trip, since we were already most of the way up the canyon. A few miles up the canyon brought to Alta Village. Shortly after that, the road turned to dirt.
We continued to slowly grind up the dirt road. I think Snowbird was about 8,000 feet. I think we got to the end of the road around 9,500. I expected there to be a lake there, but all we found was a parking lot, and the entrance to a camp ground. It turns out that Cecret Lake (with a “C”) was a mile hike in and 280 feet higher. That was not what we had envisioned.
Mike did not want to hike, so we left him in the car, and Amy and I set off on the hike. Amy found the going slow, due to the altitude. About 3/4 of the way to the lake, we saw some climbers climbing a rock wall across a small valley from the trail. Because of that small valley, at one point on the switchbacks we were essentially at the same height that the climbers were at. Two women were top-roping, although as we watched them, a guy came up with a bottom-rope. It must have been a standard routine or something, with fixed pitons, because every 4-5 feet he would clip a ’biner into something and attach his rope to it.
This wasn’t as good as hiking up from Logan Pass in Glacier, but it was pretty close to alpine meadows and definitely (to me) nicer than the lower wooded trails.
We proceeded up to the lake, which was not that large, and took a bunch of pictures. It looked like the whole end of the valley was Alta. We had driven under two chair-lifts on the dirt road, had hiked under a third, and there was a fourth running up next to the lake. We could see a number of other lifts crisscrossing the slopes. There were also a number of ski-trail signs which we, as hikers, ignored. It was sort of hard to envision what this place would look like under snow.
We got about 1/3 of the way around the lake, although the trail around looked rather informal. The trail seemed to climb a bit and then cross a scree slope, but those rocks looked rather unfriendly to hikers.
I went back down and found that there was an even smaller trail that ran along the water before climbing only a short way up the slope. This turned out to be the preferable trail. It got a bit dicey in places, with the trail sloping down to the outside edge above a 5-8 foot drop over some rocks, but we made it through safely.
About 1/3 of the way back down the trail, we found Michael. He had (not surprisingly) gotten bored waiting for us, and so he came up the trail. I offered to go with him up the rest of the trail so that he could see the lake, but he declined. So we just went down the trail together.
At one point we found a small green grasshopper on the trail. Amy went to take a picture of it, but Michael showed his hunter instincts and pounced on it to catch it. It got free, and Amy got her picture, but Mike got it in the end. (After a while, he let it go.)
We then drove down Little Cottonwood and back to the hotel. We got back around 4. I spent the past half hour typing this up, while Michael is playing in the pool. The air is nice and warm and damp, which is good for Mike, but I’m melting as I type this.
Eventually, we pried Michael out of the pool. A family had been in the pool, and there were some young kids that Michael had been playing with. That other family was also leaving, which made it easier to get Mike out.
We walked to a Himalayan restaurant that we had seen the other day as we were driving around. The food was rather strange to Michael’s point of view, but Amy and I liked the variety. This time I knew better and ordered it “mild”. It was still a bit zippy to my taste, but much better than if it had been “medium”.
All of us ordered Mango Lassi to drink. This is a mango flavored “shake” using yogurt. At first, Mike thought it was too strange to drink, but by the end he had finished his and offered to finish mine.
On the way back to the hotel, we bought another box, so that we had one box for books and one for excess camping stuff (earlier, we had bought a new mattress for me and some pillows). Now we are sitting here trying to get everything to fit into our luggage and within weight limits.