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June 14, 2014

This morning was low key. The family trickled into the sitting room over all hours. Some folks cooked while others read. I decided to go for another hike as the weather warmed up after a huge windstorm blew in last night.

Sterling drove me up to the resort where I chose two hiking trails to follow. The first was called “Sultan Out and Back”. On the map it appeared like it was relatively flat as it crossed the base of the mountain to the boundary and then turned into a road for the return.

The rocky path steadily declined through aspen and across open ski runs with sweeping views of the Jordanelle Reservoir below. It eventually reached a deck with picnic tables, a perfect lunch spot, but only being a three mile hike, I didn’t need to rest for lunch. I can imagine it would be a lovely area for skiers on a warm winter day.

Here I connected with the road where it soon forked without a sign pointing the direction to go. Logically, it seemed like turning left was the best option. The road was open to the sun and steadily climbed 900 feet back to the trailhead. Along the way, I spotted a marmot!

The way my aunt has been feeding us, three miles was not enough for the day, so I chose another trail, this time the “Silver Lake” which gains 1,400 feet over 2 miles as it leads to the 9,400 foot summit of Bald Mountain.

The smooth dirt path switchbacked through the conifers and aspen where robins flitted about. Fallen aspen leaves from the previous season blanketed the path while fallen trees covered the steep terrain.

I slowly paced myself up the mountain as I stopped to photograph some lovely wildflowers, one I’d never seen. Tiny white flowers climbed a stem. This trail was a little more active than the other. Six people passed me, all going downhill as they had ridden the chairlift up for $15.

The trail occasionally left the trees and and crossed the ski runs. These areas were the only level spots, but that only meant there was more elevation to gain in a shorter distance. I didn’t find the grade to be too steep though.

As I continued climbing I came out onto a road and followed the signs back onto the trail. It was well marked. Eventually, I was hiking in the tundra through a strong breeze. Near the summit, the views were fantastic. I could finally snap a photo that didn’t include houses or a town below.

Once I made it to the ski lift, I bundle up in my ski sweater and fleece while mountain bikers prepared to ride down other trails. I considered hiking down, but I like having my hiking poles, so I sat on the chairlift which is free going down. During my ride down, I realized two more reasons why I don’t ski. First, I didn’t get the bar pulled down right away, and then I was too chicken to release my death grip on the back of the seat to pull the bar down.  As I get older, heights seem more bothersome!  Second, I was freezing with a ski sweater, fleece, and gloves on in the middle of the summer!

I took the short stroll down the road to the condo and chilled for evening while watching some World Cup matches and enjoying some fantastic filets that did not catch the grill on fire! ETB

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