More Dogs on Main: I saw a shadow |

More Dogs on Main: I saw a shadow

Midwinter conditions are great in midwinter

Tom Clyde

Park Record columnist Tom Clyde.
Tom Clyde mug

Well, here it is, April 1, and the snow just keeps coming. Somebody thought it would be a good idea to extend the ski season to April 23. I don’t know anybody who is even remotely excited about it. The resorts are so thin on employees already that you can’t get French fries at some of the lodges. Apparently the person who cleaned up the mess at the fryer has gone home to South America, and we’re not making that mess again. So no fries for you. The remaining staff will be working non-stop from here to the end. There’s no chance we’ll have our bikes out, so I guess we might as well ski. Conditions have been midwinter good. Tuesday the sun was out, and the day was planned around lunch on the deck. Instead, the howling wind (and closed lifts) forced us off the mountain. It was nice to see a shadow.

There have been a couple of strange encounters on the mountain. First is the woman who was aiming for the Daly Chutes and ended up in Midway by mistake. It seems crazy, but in the flat light, it’s perfectly reasonable when you can’t really tell up from down. The reported story says she took an Uber from Midway back to Deer Valley and was skiing the chutes a couple of hours after making a wrong turn.

Another day, I was on the plaza at Deer Valley waiting for my group to gather up. A guy approached and asked if I knew the mountain. He then asked, “Can y’all point me to the Payday chair?” He explained that he had been waiting for his group for a long time, and they finally texted that they were waiting for him in the line at Payday. My first thought was, “What part of Texas are you from,” but I patiently explained that he was at the wrong resort. He assumed I meant the wrong lift, and it took some persistence to convince him that either he or his friends were in entirely the wrong place. I’m not sure how that one worked out, but suspect it wasn’t as smooth as the lost woman taking the Uber back from Midway.  

On the same day, after a very good morning of skiing in the bowl and hiking the chutes, my friend and I were tired and headed down. As we were just getting on the Judge lift, the liftie said, “Whoops, it looks like you’re about to drop a knee.” We both instinctively started checking for loose gear, then realized he was a fellow telemark skier making a corny but delightful joke. A nearly perfect ending to a nearly perfect day.

The only thing that would have made it closer to perfect is to have had enough sunlight to cast a shadow, enough warmth to ski without dressing like the Michelin man with a full face cover, and not having snow accumulating on my goggles. In other words, spring. Midwinter conditions are great in midwinter. It’s corn season. The redwing blackbirds are back, and complaining about it. The Canada geese are circling around looking for a place to land on a pond that shouldn’t be frozen over this time of year. It’s the first of April. Can it just stop? 

The Provo River runs through my front yard. The road between the house and the highway is a flood control dike built decades ago when the Duchesne Tunnel started bringing water from the Colorado River drainage into the Great Salt Lake drainage. All Utah rivers are plumbing. In all the years I’ve been here, I’ve never had flooding where my house is. Not even when I was a child and my treehouse was where my house is now. So I’m feeling pretty secure.

It would help if they didn’t bring Colorado River water through the tunnel. But we need to refill the Great Salt Lake, I’m told. Or if they left the water where God put it, they could help refill Lake Powell. I think they are going to fill my crawlspace.   

We’ve started a bit of a neighborhood emergency planning process. If the bridge is damaged, there are a lot of families stuck. The only way out is over Wolf Creek Pass to Tabiona, and that won’t get plowed until late June this year. Makes for a long pizza run. It’s complicated because of the jurisdictional chowder involved. The highway is UDOT, the river flow is somewhat controlled by Provo River Water Users who manage the tunnel, but nobody controls the rate of snow melt.

The river is the county line, so there are two counties quite willing to let the other take the lead on it. And then there are a bunch of private roads and private bridges. There’s nothing anybody can do if the snow melts quickly. The best we can do is figure out how to notify people of a possible problem, which is tricky because the people most likely to get isolated are also the farthest away from the bridge. So that’s an interesting problem to worry about while still plowing snow in April. If the snow melts enough to find the barns, I can move the farm machinery to higher ground and hope for the best.

It’s going to be an interesting couple of months.


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