|View of Rice Bowl from the Sheriff's cabin on the Farmington Canyon road, elevation 6,825 feet.|
The road cut can be seen from the valley while driving I-15, and, with the warm weather and thin snow-pack this winter, the road in the lower canyon appeared to be free of snow. In past years after the closure I have ridden my mountain bike up the road in late winter, with skis strapped to the bike, but that ride is a tough grind. Yeah, it's only five or six miles, with only a 2,500 foot gain, which is not huge by cycling standards, but it's not so easy while wearing a pack loaded with ski boots and gear, and with skis strapped to the bike frame. I'm getting old and lazy, so this year I gave in and bought a motorcycle.
I strapped my skis to the frame of my new Yamaha and rode it 15 miles from my house, through suburbia, to the gate of Farmington Canyon. Along the way I got plenty of weird stares. When coming to a stop at one intersection, a pod of spandex-ed joggers waiting to cross the road looked me up and down, and started giggling hysterically. Mind you, they were total gym rats, completely made up and looking like the 'Stale Housewives of SLC,' and they thought I looked odd? Yeah, skis strapped to a motorcycle is not something seen everyday, but at least I wasn't wearing skin-tight spandex head to toe.
Riding the pavement was not a big deal, but once past the gate and on dirt, I felt shaky. I'm not use to riding a motorcycle on the road and certainly not on the dirt, The road was mostly snow-free up to the Sunset Campground, with a few small drifts that I walked my bike through (no confidence in the snow), and at the campground I locked my bike to a tree, paranoid perhaps, but thinking if a truck came up (cabin owners have keys to the gate), two people (man or spandex-clad women) could easily lift it into the bed and drive away, leaving me with just skis and five miles of dirt road.
I re-skinned and started back up the ridge and I was soon rewarded. Strangely, in the space of just a few hundred vertical feet, the snow quickly changed from wet slop to creamy, dry-ish powder. I topped out in a gusty, hard-driving wind, but once off the ridge the wind was now hardly noticeable. It never rained, and the skiing? It was awesome! At least in the upper half of the bowl. So good I made multiple runs in the upper half, and wishing for more time. Sadly, I had to get down before dark (I have a learners permit for the bike) and, to be honest, I was nervous about riding that new bike down the dirt road. My confidence was lagging on the dirt. That said, on the way down I had an epiphany of sorts; the thought came to just ride it like my mountain bike (pedals not petrol), which I have done a lot in recent years. So I relaxed and it felt natural, even hitting the gas on the straights. I made it home without any problems; and no heckling from the spandex-ed crowd laughing at my weirdness.
|I tied myself in a know climbing over the gate (to the cabin) with skis on.|
|Should I cross?|
|The bridge held.|
|Midway up the Rice/Mud divide and the snow is thin in spots, grass showing.|
|Unitah Mountains from the upper Rice/Mud divide.|
|Mud Bowl is still brushy In a normal most of those Aspen saplings are covered by February 6th . . .|
|. . .and the south aspect (north side) of Farmington Canyon below Francis Peak is getting bare, about a month ahead of a normal winter.|
|36 inches in upper Rice Bowl (about 8,300 feet). Good thing I bought the longest probe (320cm) made by black diamond. Wishful thinking on my part.|
|Skin track emerging from the Mud/Rice divide into upper Rice Bowl.|
|Mud Peak (l), Rice Bowl (r).|
|Skin track view.|
|Wind sculpting at the ridge-top of Rice Bowl, roughly 8,715 feet and 1,900 vertical feet above the Sheriff's Cabin.|
|In a good year there's a 15-foot cornice guarding Rice Bowl.|
|Small (very small) cornice drop, with Antelope Island, Farmington and Kaysville below.|
|Bountiful Peak from the top of Rice Bowl.|
|First run turns in upper Rice Bowl. Sun coming in and out of the clouds, but mostly in.|
|Almost back to my skin track, heading up for run #2.|
|Upper Rice Bowl.|
|Beaver pond on lower Rice Creek, just above the Sheriff's cabin.|
|Zoomed view of my turns from the Sheriff's cabin.|
|The infamous Sheriff's cabin, just off the Farmington Canyon Road. There are No-trespassing/Keep Out signs everywhere. The cabin is old and beat up. It looks like an old Boy Scout Lodge, reason enough to keep my distance.|