One last hurrah on our Ski Utah après ski overindulgence trip and we were spending it at Deer Valley. There's just something special about Deer Valley, that I can't seem to put my finger on. I'd say it has a country club feel to it, and it does to a degree, but there is certainly not the snobbery there that can come with a country club. It's more that the place just makes you feel like your part of the family. A feeling that is only aided by the fact that they have the highest employee return rate out of any of the rest of the local resorts, while limiting their daily capacity to only skiers and a specified number. Deer Valley is an "everybody knows your name," kind of place and it's really quite endearing. Don't let this Cheers-like reference fool you into thinking that the skiing is lame or something. It's not, you can really scare yourself if you want to and that is something that I can personally attest to and will get to a bit later.
When at Deer Valley, You Ski With Olympians
I swear that this whole overindulgence thing was just an excuse to really ski a ton just so we would only feel slightly bad about ourselves as we chowed down in excess throughout the day because there was no shortage of either that day at Deer Valley. As we met resort representative Emily Summers and resort ambassador Heidi Voelkor in the parking lot that morning they couldn't have been happier to see us and were stoked to show us all that Deer Valley has to offer. I had known Emily from a previous event where we shared a cocktail or three but this was the first time that I met Heidi. I guess it was my naivete (or maybe clueless is a better adjective) but it wasn't until we were riding up the gondola about an hour later that I came to find out that she was a former three time Olympian. It's probably something that I should have figured out based on how epically beautiful her turns were as she cruised down the mountain effortlessly. Or, maybe I should have put two and two together since they told me the previous night when we were out that we'd most likely be skiing with a former Olympian the next day. Duh. Nonetheless, I guess that is just what you do when you're at Deer Valley and once Heidi told me her last name, I knew exactly who she was.
Hanging Ten Enroute to the Daly Chutes
The group made their way around Deer Valley which is quite a bit larger than I thought. Again...clueless. It has six peaks so that should have been a sign that it was large. We managed to ski on all six before our 1 pm lunch (#earnyouraprès) and the skiing was springy but no less magnificent. In particular the Daly Chutes which Heidi and Paul Marshal of Ski Utah convinced me to check out. It's kind of funny actually, I was all about it, that is until I was riding the lift up with Heidi and she was describing and pointing out the way to get to them. It sounded borderline treacherous and by the time that I got off , I was ready to just ski the bowl underneath the lift. Then Paul got off and was like, "Let's go ski the chutes." So ski the chutes we did. The way over was, pretty much, as treacherous as Heidi described (maybe not for those two, but for me at least). As we made our way across the top the mountain, we had to ski down a narrow path through the trees over what Heidi described as "woop-de-doos" a technical phrase that apparently described the roller coast like bumps in the path way that took us there. Good times. However, it was the next step of the way that really threw me for a loop, since the path was no less narrow and there was a wall of snow above me and nothing below me. Screwing up at this moment was not an option and neither was slowing down since there was no way to control your speed due to the limited space along the path. So I pretty much had to hang ten along the snow wall above me by digging my glove into it and dragging it along the snow in order to maintain a moderate speed and not go hurling off the trail to impending injury. My reward for this insanity? A really fun trip down Daly Chute #1 which was steep and filled with soft bumps. Can't beat that. It was a worthy prize and sweet sendoff into the delectable lunch we were about to chow down on.
Lunch on Royal Street and Après Ski at Stein's
The Royal Street Cafe in the Silver Lake Lodge was a more than worthy stop after all of the skiing we put in that morning. With the sun shining and the temperatures high, sitting outside at this mid-mountain location could not have been a better choice. It was one of those, "I'm not going to get any more runs in today," kind of situations, and that actually almost happened. The appetizers that Emily ordered seem to come wave upon wave with no end in site. Fresh Dungeness crab towers, flatbreads, fried calamari, parmesan baked pita chips, I think there were french fries in the mix somewhere too and to wash it all down, their award winning blueberry mojito.
Normally you'd think this would be the end, however, Heidi had talked up the grilled tuna tacos and I just couldn't leave without trying them. They were delightful. The food coma had pretty much set in right around my third appetizer and normally that would be enough for me to hang there all day basking in the glow of the sun. However, this was my last day in Utah and I couldn't leave without a few more runs. So Paul obliged to come with me for a couple of more before we met the rest of the group back at my room at the amazing Stein Eriksen Lodge for some beers in the hot tub that was conveniently located on my balcony. What a way to start après?
That was, actually, only the start. Bodies refreshed from the hot tub experience we all headed to the Troll Hallen Lounge inside Stein's which had beautiful views overlooking the mountain, a killer après ski food menu (as if I hadn't eaten enough) and a list of bloody mary's that would blow your mind. Wearing my First Tracks Bloody Mary shirt at the time and having featured The Carnivore version on my site earlier in the season, it was a no brainer that I needed to try a few of these bloodies. So I did, along with the special beer brewed for the Stein Eriksen lodge who's name escapes me at this moment.
Fireside Dining and High West Drinking
A quick shower, a change of clothes and a short car ride later we had arrived at quite possibly the most unique dinners that I have ever had. With grandiose fireplaces spread throughout the restaurant, each with its own specific dishes cooking in front of it, Fireside Dining is not only a meal but an experience unto itself. The raclette cheese oozing onto the plates below, the cured meats, hearty stews, fondue desserts...my mouth is watering just thinking about it. Again more food and to this magnitude was not necessary at this point in the day and the trip, but it was just too good to pass up. In fact, I felt compelled to grab an extra plate of raclette and cured meats every time that I left the table, no matter what other dish I brought back. I know, I know, gluttony is a sin but in this case, it was so worth it.
As the dinner was drawing to an end, we mobilized quickly in an effort to get over to the infamous High West Distillery prior to its closing at 10 pm. This was something that we did not accomplish the night before and there was just no way that I was coming to Park City and not going to the distiller of some of my favorite whiskeys. Dan Howard of Visit Park City, piped up and said, "I can get you there before 10. Let me get my car and I'll meet you out front." Within seconds, he rolled up in a G-Wagon and I knew he wasn't lying. We were there in no time.
High West Distillery was all it was cracked up to be. An old time saloon situated in two hundred year plus old buildings right in the heart of a charming ski town. I've had my share of High West in the past so I sampled the BouRye (something that I haven't tried yet) this time around and meandered through the entire facility which includes the restaurant, the distillery and an upstairs lounge. I guess my only gripe is that they had a hard closing time of 10 when I was there, which I assume is normal, and I wish it were a bit later. Nonetheless, the place has old western charm that is a highly appealing throwback and the whiskey is worth it. Especially the ones that you cannot find in other parts of the country.
Finishing up at High West, we headed out for a walk up Main St. in Park City. With shops, restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries, you name it, this bustling little ski town is quite the attraction no matter what season you decided to visit, and this one last stroll was a fitting end to an overindulging and exciting trip to Utah.