Thanksgiving Weekend at Park City Mountain Resort
by Dave Wall
photos by Andrea Thornton


6:09 am - I am up. It doesn't take an alarm to wake me up this morning. The snow report predicted 7 inches and it's the first pow day of the season. Naturally, I am ready earlier than usual.

6:50 am - My car is low on oil. Sweet Lue has a few leaks we haven't fixed yet, so we have to get him all set because its not going to be a pleasant drive up. Parleys Canyon can be really bad when it has been storming. We should give ourselves at least an hour to get up the canyon. I should have chains.

I have to have breakfast this morning. I love cream of wheat, especially for those ride hard days when you know you are going to need the energy. I made it while I was getting ready, so I got side tracked and forgot about it. It just isn't the same when it's all lumpy and cold. Fresh and creamy is the only way to go. Damn it, I hate it how I have to keep an eye on my toaster. Black toast again. :(

7:30 am - Andrea should be here any minute now. She is the photographer we are bringing along to help document the day. She is really good so I am excited to have her come. It's her first day of the season today and she is getting use to all new gear. Breaking in new boots is never fun. She is here. Sweet. We are on schedule.

7:55 am - The canyon looks sketchy. The three huge snow plows are taking good care of the freeway. We are the first car right behind them, VIP style. The snow isn't sticking to the roads much yet, although the plows are pushing masses of slush off the road. All I see is clouds when I look farther up the road. I wonder how conditions are further up the canyon.

Oh my god, traffic got bad fast. We were cruising just fine, and then suddenly there was the wall of cars. The road is getting really slick and the snow is coming down hard. It looks as if we are going to be stopped for a while. We are barely inching along. Up ahead I can make out a stopped semi. Looks like all the cars are going around it. Getting closer I can see why, when ever he torks his wheels to pull him up the hill his tires lose traction and he slides back a little. Sucks to be him. Traffic is clearing up a bit, but the roads are worsening.

8:20 am - We are now down to one lane. Snow is blizzarding around us. The temperature has definitely dropped and we have some really slick roads. It's funny, we are riding in a 2 wheel drive 3 cylinder Subaru Justy and we are passing up SUVs that have pulled off the road. I guess it's the pizza cutter tires and how light the vehicle is. I feel safer taking my car up in these conditions than I would in a lot of 4x4s.

8:55 am - Despite the crazy-ass roads we are still on time. We just pulled in the parking lot by First Time lift. I don't want to get out to put on my boots and get all ready. It is windy and cold as a "mother" out there. We are going to head in to get all suited up. It's better to start out warm in conditions like this.

9:10 am - We are just to the side of Pay Day! I have to say, I didn't think we would get up here this early when I was sitting in that traffic. But we are set: passes, snacks, music, and a camera. Andrea isn't going to be taking her expensive camera on the mountain since conditions don't look good, but we have a decent backup digi to document the day.

The storm has calmed down quite a bit. Maybe the storm is going to lift and we will have some blue bird action going on. Its still quite cold so I am glad I have these extra layers on. From what I can see a lot of the other runs are not covered in very well. I can see mad bushes and rocks sticking though. I can tell they have been blowing snow. There are big humps of icy snow next to all the blowers on the runs. I think one more decent storm and they could have a lot of it open.

This is my first time up to Park City Mountain Resort. I think its kind of odd how they have the starting gate things at the lift. Its funny, I feel like I am in a horse race: READY, GO!

First run is great! On the sides of the runs I am getting a little fluff under my board. I would say 5 or so inches. It's not bad at all. It looks like only Pay Day and First Time are open today. They have some rails up right as you get off the traverse from the lift. I am surprised how they have them set. All of them have quite a big jump to get on them. It's probably to keep the amateurs off. They have a lot of flat on these runs. You have to keep your speed for sure on some of these spots. It makes for some fun buttering though.

It's quite cold and windy on the lift. The weather is all crazy. At first it was good and I was thinking it might get better now we are huddled up on the lift trying to keep the frigid wind out of our faces. It wouldn't be so bad if we were not getting blasted by all this icy snow. I just need to get in the groove and I will warm up. Andrea seems a little cold. She is doing really well with her riding for the first day of the season. She only has one season under her belt right now so I am pretty stoked on her riding.

11:00 am - There is not a whole lot going on in these runs. I am kinda limited in what I can do without much to work with. Although I am getting some good switch along with some good board control down with this long, not so steep runs. If you go quite fast about half way down then there is a spot where you can shoot up the side of the run where it goes up onto the mountain. Its pretty cool, if you hop it at the top you can get a little quarter pipe action out of it. You have to be careful though because on one side of it there are some crazy rocks.

12:15 pm - I just got my ass handed to me. I was up the side of the run getting some of the fresh stuff that no one got, and it just kind of snuck up on me. I started hitting some rocks and like bam I was riding a little slide of them. I can hear my board taking a beating as I catch my front edge. It was hard enough to make me flip and land on my back. I ride with a Dakine spine protector. I have never been so thankful. The rocks even put a little hole in my coat they where so sharp. This could have been a lot worse. I need to calm down. Its that pre-season little stuff that can get you sometimes.

These runs are just flying past us. It is kind of the same thing over and over again. Its all good though, I am working on my switch carve and figuring out some cool buttery stuff on this wide open flat. I am surprised there are not more people up here for Thanksgiving Weekend. We get some cluster occasionally before the lift. But for the most part there isn't too much of a line at all. The conditions have been wack all day. One run it will be windy the next just fine.

I think we are ready for a pit stop. I need to eat, and Andrea is feeling like she needs some Ibuprofen. The boot break-in isn't going so smoothly for her. I am unbuckled and we decide we are going to go down First Time as we head down to the car. It will be good practice for those one footed rails someday. Its fun though, I am being a big dork with it.

The doors are frozen shut. They come free with a bit of extensive pulling. Our sandwiches are frozen. My breath is thick like smoke. But it's nice to be out of the wind for a while. The day has been good so far. We have had trouble getting pictures because the camera doesn't like to cooperate when it's cold. The screen isn't working and the batteries are frozen.

2:00 pm - The day has been long. My legs are burning because of all the practice I have been doing with buttering and snowboard surface tricks. Andrea is cold and quite beat. Her boots are hurting her feet and wind is getting to her. She has done well though. I am stoked that she was a trooper in those conditions. Andrea is leaving after this run and she is going to go check out some of the resort's shops. She has mad goggle burn already. You can't quite tell in the picture, but I think it's from all the wind.

I am going to take some more runs because I am having a blast. I am surprised it's so fun being how limited I am on this hill. I guess when you make the best of something it flows. I am just shooting the runs, taking chill runs. My legs are sore, I have taken a few falls, and I am starting to get hungry again. I still have a few runs in me though so we will just ride this out the rest of the day.

4:15 pm - I find Andrea and we are pile off our gear. It is the best feeling ever to do that after a good day of riding. I get the chills every time I unleash that boot off my foot and feel the blood come rushing back into feeling again. We are both pretty beat. My face is burning from all the wind and you can definitely see the goggle line. Too bad I know it isn't going to stay because it's a wind burn. The drive back is long. I am tired and I can't wait to get home and relax.

To another killer day.