How to avoid the mud season blues
Welcome to mud season. This is the time of year when the trails are still snowy, muddy messes and the ski resorts are closed, leaving the slopes to those with the time and the temerity to hike for their turns.
From road biking on area highways to snowshoeing up in the mountains and hiking on the clear sections of the historic Rail Trail, Summit County has a range of spring time activities to offer. So while April or May might seem like good times to seek out warmer places, don’t do that just because there’s nothing to do in town.
In search of some mud-season entertainment, The Park Record took some time to ask a group of locals what they do, and what one can do when the snow turns to slush and summer is still a hope.
Things to do and places to see at one’s leisure
Ken Davis, owner of Java Cow Café and Bakery and president of the Historic Main Street Business Association, noted that the time can offer an opportunity to Parkites and other Summit County residents.
"It’s a good time for the locals to enjoy a lot of things they might avoid during the season," said Davis, "specifically, Main Street itself. A lot of the restaurants are offering special deals. Certainly it’s easy to find a parking space, and especially with the new parking garage, it’s really easy."
He also noted that many of the activities going on in season like the Park City Film Series or the shows at the Egyptian Theatre, such as the Park City Follies are still running.
Frank Normile, a writer for the follies and the executive director of the film series, couldn’t agree more.
"See films!" he said. "We’ve got the Reel Classics [series]; we’ve got the week of May 18 for ‘Kilowatt Hours’ and ‘Nobelity.’"
This, he noted, in addition to the film series regular lineup of weekend films, which will continue through the beginning of June.
"I think what we have is a really eclectic lineup," he said.
Summit County Commissioner Sally Elliott suggested some different activities around the county and the area.
"It’s a good time to mix winter and summer," she noted.
The former owner of Destination Outfitters, which booked tours for Utah Escapades, A.B.C. Reservations and the Park City Sleigh Company, Elliott said she has some experience finding springtime entertainment.
"It was my job to find things for people to do at this time of year," she said.
She suggested driving up to Empire Lodge, at Deer Valley Resort, and snowshoeing up to Guardsman Pass. Meanwhile, she said, the warmer portions of the Historic Rail Trail might also offer some excellent opportunities for recreation. With the trail dry almost all the way to Echo, now is a prime time to take a bike ride from Wanship to there or Coalville.
As the snow melts and mud abates, she noted, other options will become available.
"Use the trails as they dry," she said.
Elliott also mentioned a whole range of other activities, from fly fishing on the Provo River to taking a rafting or kayaking trip on the Weber River, and among her favorite springtime activities is birding, either in the Summit County area or elsewhere.
"We love to go out toward Sample Springs and Fish Springs on the Pony Express Trail," she said. "It’s wonderful to be there in time to see the birds migrate in."
Others talked about getting out of town. Casey Metzger, manager of The Spur, said he thinks about the Red Rock country.
"Whenever the spring comes, I associate it with heading south," he said.
He also talked about spring skiing in the Little Cottonwood Canyon and enjoying a relatively empty Park City.
Among those questioned, several also mentioned that the Park City Ice Arena is open through May, and like Davis, several also talked about the deals at local restaurants.
But still a busy time for many work-wise
Mountain Town Stages first chair Randy Barton was among those talking about the restaurants’ two-for-one deals, but he noted, while the tourists are gone, his spring stays busy.
"For me, the off season is just a time to get ready for the busy summer season," he said. "We are just very busy getting all the acts and all the venues for the signed (for the organization’s summer concert series)."
Normile shared a similar sentiment.
"I’m still doing my work," he said. "In the film series it’s pretty much a continuum, because it happens so fast."
Indeed for those who work in those industries not directly affected by tourism, the spring, the shoulder season, is just another time of year in Park City, when work needs to be done. For others, the season has a its own, individual associations.
Park City councilwoman Marianne Cone said she associates the shoulder season with the Park City budget.
"Because the city budget," she said, "is in the month of May."
"When the weather is bad," Cone added, "you can study the budget."
Catching up proves key
Cone also said her time wasn’t completely consumed with Park City’s finances. The shoulder season, she noted, is also a time to tackle any neglected tasks.
"For me it’s getting a lot of stuff done that needs done," she said. "I get a lot more done when there’s no skiing."
Many others use the season to get back in touch. Metzger noted that only in the off season does one realize how many visitors are in town. And as Main Street empties, most people have some extra time to get away from work and ski hills.
"[It’s about] hanging out with friends you haven’t seen in a while," he said.
"I just enjoy this time of year because it’s a really good time for seeing friends you don’t usually see," said Barton.
Metzger also noted one other very relaxing aspect that most Parkites also likely enjoy about the season.
"Cold beer and warm decks," he said.
Indeed, after a long ski season, some relaxation does seem to be in order for almost everyone.
"Just enjoy the pace of life," said Davis.
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