Views from the Top

An aspect of downhill skiing that may be underappreciated is the spectacular scenery that can be seen from the ski slopes, particularly in Utah. The following pictures were taken on a beautiful January day skiing at the Canyons area of Park City.

Near the top of the Condor chairlift

Downhill among the spruce and fir trees

Near the top of the Sun Peak chairlift

Snowy New Year’s Day in Salt Lake City

The western United States has been experiencing drought over the last few years. So, the wet and snowy weather here in Salt Lake City over the past few weeks has been very welcome. Following are some pictures of the snowy city around New Year’s.

Slight improvement in drought conditions over the past month can be seen in the two maps of Utah below. Continuing wet weather is forecast, which should further improve the situation.

Beautiful tree in the neighborhood is reminiscent of Ansel Adams’ famous photograph

Gloria Falls Trail in Little Cottonwood Canyon

The trailhead for Gloria Falls is just short of the Snowbird and Alta ski resorts as you drive up the Little Cottonwood Canyon from Salt Lake City. Longer trails to White Pine and Red Pine Lakes also start from this site. In mid-October we were rewarded with magnificent views of fall colors in the canyon during the short hike up to Gloria Falls.

The view from our parking spot along Utah State Route 210
Looking across the canyon from the trail.
Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides),

Quaking Aspen has been the state tree of Utah since 2014. It replaced Colorado Blue Spruce as the state tree at the suggestion of a 4th-grade class.

Gloria Falls

Views along the hike

Summertime Clouds in Minnesota

Cumulous / Cumulonimbus clouds

Cumulonimbus clouds are tall clouds associated with thunderstorms. Sometimes they form from smaller fluffy cumulous clouds, as seen in this You-Tube video. I believe the picture above shows clouds in the transition from cumulous to cumulonimbus.

Cirrus clouds

Cirrus clouds are comprised of ice crystals at high altitudes. They are found anywhere between 13,000 to 66,000 feet above sea level.

Stratocumulus clouds

Stratocumulus clouds are quite common, they occur as clumps of low-level clouds, usually below 6600 feet.

Stratus clouds

Stratus clouds are low-level featureless hazy layers of clouds. They are essentially above-ground fog.

A foggy morning on the lake.

Destroying Angel? Death Cap?

Recently I found this mushroom at the edge of our yard. I was surprised to learn from mushroom ID apps that it is likely either the Death Cap (Amanita phalloides) or the North American Destroying Angel (Amanita bisporigera). As you can probably tell from these names, both of these mushrooms are deadly poisonous.

Mushroom in the Amanita genus, likely poisonous

The Amanita genus of mushrooms includes the most dangerously toxic mushrooms in the world, as well as some desirable edible mushrooms. It is estimated that Amanitas are responsible for 95% of mushroom poisoning fatalities worldwide.

Several edible mushrooms do not look too different from these poisonous amanitas. Such misidentifications can lead to tragedies. Mushroom poisonings are not common, but they have happened in Minnesota, including one case in 1989 in nearby Brainerd MN.

Poisoning by these mushrooms is insidious. The first symptoms, including gastric distress and headache, commonly wane after 24 hours. However, while the victim temporarily feels better, the toxins of these mushrooms attack the liver and kidneys. Even with modern medical care, the fatality rate of poisoning from the Death Cap is about 20%.

Paul Bunyan Trail in mid-August

The Paul Bunyan Trail is a paved recreational trail in northern Minnesota that runs 120 miles from Brainerd to Bemidji. It is an ideal route for biking and running in the summer and for snowmobiles in the winter. The photos below are from a recent bike ride in the middle of the trail, between Hackensack and Pine River.

This beautiful White Pine is along the trail not far south of Hackensack.

White trunks with peeling bark make Paper Bark Birch easy to identify.

These Tamarack trees will stand out in October. They are unusual conifers with needles that change to bright yellow in the fall.

A drift of Bee Balm (Wild Bergamot) alongside the trail just south of Backus.

Nobletts Trail in Uinta National Forest, Utah

The Uintas Mountains of NE Utah are seen in the display above captured from Google Earth.
The Nobletts Trailhead is marked on the display.

The Uintas Mountains are an east-west trending sub-range of the Rocky Mountains that contain the highest mountain in Utah, Kings Peak (elevation 13,528′). Nobletts is an easy hiking trail on the western flank of the Uintas, its trailhead is about 50 miles west of Salt Lake City.

The trail follows Nobletts creek for about 2 miles with a moderate gain in elevation of 275′. The creek cascades down rocks that appear to be mainly limestone. A geologic map provided in the UtahGeology website indicates that this limestone is of Mississippian age, ~350 million years old.

Conifers along the trail are predominantly Douglas Fir and Subalpine Fir

Close-up of Subalpine Fir

Several varieties of wildflowers were blooming along the trail in early July

Colorado Blue Columbine

Richardson’s Geranium

Minnesota Nice Weather

North-central Minnesota has been blessed with good weather recently. Unlike the arid conditions in 2021, late spring and early summer of 2022 has brought sufficient rain, interspersed with temperate sunny days.

Overcast skies have provided enough rain for the lake to be several inches higher than last year.

Today a small storm skirted by the northeast side of the lake.

Stormy weather is commonly followed by beautiful sunsets