Snowmist and Sunshine - Exploring the LookoutThe day started as a complete loss. It was not even 7 in the morning, and my phone kept ringing. Our fellow Uinta skiers bailing out of the planned trip. The forecast is for 10-degrees chill, deep trailbreaking, and no visibility. Having slept only about 5 hours the night before, I couldn't stand the bleak dawn of this new day already.
Then - like a faint ray of light - John suggests that we head out no matter what and ski something ... something interesting but closer to home. I have a few ideas handy. Interesting skiing close to home is probably something you'll come to regret, some lower elevation bushwack which makes your worst rock skis screech with horror
True to the form, in another hour we are lurking around a posted-residents-only subdivision from one posted-no-tresspassing trailhead to another (a local resident later tells me that they hire a guard every fall to stop the hunters). We vote down parking by a wrought iron gate which probably costs more than my and John's houses combined. We vote down parking on the main drag. We pull into an unplowed water tank access road, and the tour begins.
I've been in Freeze Creek before, never on skis though. Up a narrow steep brushy trail in disappearing visibility, then up a more gentle but uninspiring fire road around the head of Red Butte Creek, it feels kind of grey and depressing for a while, but then we hit the Black Mountain Ridge and glimpse Grandview through the snowy mist.
Wow! We are in the conifers, beneath cool looking rock formations, and there are promising glades down to City Creek! I try to talk John into dropping all the way there right from here, but of course we haven't got a ride from City Creek. And what about the summit, too? By the end of the day, this wouldn't be the last time when I thank John for tempering my urges :)
The Sun comes out for a while and the things turn beautiful. The ridge undulates through conifers, guarded by red rock outcroppings. At one point we see an ocean of clouds smothering the entire Wasatch range but we are above it. Then we are no longer above it :) and can barely even see one another near the summit of Lookout Peak, let alone figure out just where this peak might be (doh! maps memorized don't always show as good details as maps printed). Sometimes we could see the deep chasm of what could only be Hardscrabble Creek to our left, but absolutely nothing ahead. Eventually it becomes obvious that we've overshot the peak and are dropping towards Swallow Rocks. But where on Earth is this route normal to Birch Spring Pass? We eat lunch just to give the breeze a chance to shake up the clouds, but nothing happens, so we turn around and head back through the fog. Then suddenly the clouds cleared and it's just got beautiful like a fairy tale.