Work trips tend to fly by in a blur of generic hotels, overly air-conditioned meeting rooms and rich food. That’s a shame, considering some of these board rooms are in pretty beautiful places.
For the past few years, I’ve tried to go early or stay late on trips whenever I can, and even when the timing won’t allow, pick the flight that gives me the most downtime in destination. Then I make the most of it.
I just got back from Salt Lake City, attending the biggest outdoor tradeshow in the world (exciting in itself). It was my first time in Utah, and it felt like a shame to let that go to waste, so I picked one of those ungodly early flights and by 10 am I was cruising south of the airport in search of the mountains.
Most of Utah’s best known sights (Zion, Arches, Moab, etc) are too far for a quick jaunt from SLC. Thankfully, this is a ski town, and ski hills make for great hiking terrain come summer months.
I hadn’t packed for a hike (lesson learned: always pack runners as well as the ubiquitous bikini) so opted to head to Snowbird, where I could take a gondola to the peak and keep the hiking effort to reward ratio low - limited time means making the tough choices.
It costs about $20 for a ride up on the Aerial Tram, and within 10 minutes you’re at 11,000' and the top of the mountain. The restaurant up top serves incredible views as well as presumably overpriced food, but I skipped the patio in favour of the closest peak that was a little more rugged. Mt Baldy is a hike that can be completed in about an hour. Most of it is along a ridge, with incredible views to the mountains on both sides. The climb to Mt Baldy is marked as difficult on the map, but while the path is a little loose at times I had no problems in my improper footwear.
After retracing the trail along the ridge, I took the trail I’d originally planned - Mineral Basin. This is a quick switchback from behind the tram, tracing through beautiful fields of wildflowers, before hitting a tunnel to cut back across the mountain. It's only 15 minutes, but it takes you to the top of the Peruvian Chair chairlift where you can hike on and download off to even better views.
For a quick morning right off a plane, I couldn't have asked for anything better. Now to make it back to Utah to spend some serious time in these hills.
Where to go: Salt Lake City
How to get there: Delta flies direct from Vancouver. There are plenty of options with layovers, but when a direct flight is less than two hours killing time at SeaTac kills me.
Where to stay: There are plenty of generic and perfectly fine hotels in downtown Salt Lake City, but next time I'd go for an AirBnB for some local recommendations.
What to do: Get into the mountains. Check out Snowbird or any of the other ski areas in the canyons and visit the beaches/SUP or kayak at the reservoir. SLC also has a great food scene, and we dug the Red Iguana for Mexican and Finca for tapas.
Who to bring: Lucy didn't come with me on this trip, but from what I saw Salt Lake City seems very dog-friendly. Unfortunately dogs aren't allowed in Little Cottonwood Canyon.