Posts Tagged With: hitchhiking

Hitchhiking and the Highline Trail

“Shit, there goes the shuttle!” said Sammi as she scooped up her stuff and sprinted after the bus. Completely caught off guard, Collin and I attempted to follow suit … Instead, we more or less watched as the shuttle, our planned mode of transportation to the top of Logan Pass, rounded the loop and headed up the Going to the Sun Road.

As Plan A disappeared around the bend, we switched to Plan B: We stuck out our thumbs and hoped to catch a quick ride to the top. (We should be able to hitch a ride in one of the busiest national parks in the U.S. in the middle of summer, right?)

Glacier National Park Trail

Views for days on the Highline Trail. Photo: Joe Johnson

Ten minutes passed. No luck. More trucks with empty seats and empty beds passed than I cared to count. One guy smiled and waved … but didn’t stop. Thirty minutes passed … And so did all of the cars.

Insert curse words. Lots of them.

We finally made it to Logan Pass and our destination, the Highline Trail, courtesy of a couple in a Subaru. Cliché, but true.

The Highline Trail hugs the high alpine terrain from Logan Pass to the loop for 11 miles, overlooking the Going to the Sun Road. The sweeping vistas make it one of the most scenic and accessible trails in Glacier National Park.

Trail Running Glacier National Park

Sammi topping out on the big climb. Photo: Joe Johnson

Trail running Glacier National Park

Collin striding out. Photo: Joe Johnson

We ran along the trail, falling easily into a comfortable pace that was only interrupted by the occasional passing mountain goat. We made solid time from Logan Pass to Haystack Butte, finishing with a strong push up the only major climb of the run before stopping for a hot minute to soak in the view.

Then we were back at it, picking up our pace as the terrain leveled out and we rolled into Granite Park Chalet. Clif Bars were devoured and water was slammed before we hopped back on the trail and descended the final four miles of the loop back to to our car.

Granite Park Chalet Glacier National Park

First view of Granite Park Chalet. Photo: Joe Johnson

Looking back, this was without a doubt the best run, trail or road, I’ve ever done. From trails carved into the side of cliffs and creek crossings to meadows overflowing with wildflowers and mountaintop vistas, the terrain and views could not have been better.

Pro Tip: Start early (before 9 a.m.) to miss the crowds.

Gear tested:

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Ski Season Means – Hitchhiking

Powder Magazine launched its gear guide (which I’ve read cover to cover).  Ski Utah announced it’s “Ultimate Powderhound” competition.  Industry magazines are releasing their resort guides.  Season passes are going on sale.  And last week Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort received a dusting of snow on their highest peak.  Ski season is officially on its way!  If you’re anything like me, you’ve been looking forward to this season ever since you tearfully put your skis away last spring.  And if you’re anything like me, which I’m guessing you are since you’re reading this post, there is more than one reason why you live for ski season.  Is it the face shots?  Maybe it’s the après ski scene? Or maybe still it’s the people you meet?  In honor of the impending season, I present you with my latest series of posts – “Ski season means.”  From now until the lifts start spinning, I’ll be posting regularly on the things I love and look forward to most about ski season.  Consider it my personal effort to spread the stoke!

Hitchhiking – I know what some of you are thinking.  Hitchhiking?  Really?! What does that have to do with ski season?  I will answer your questions with a question.  How else do you get up to the mountain when your car is not considered “safe” to drive in the winter, you have no money for gas or you missed the bus heading up the canyon?  The answer, and my main mode of mountain transportation this past winter, is hitchhiking.

Before you judge me, let me just say that hitchhiking has gotten a bad rap.  Contrary to popular belief, hitchhiking, particularly to and from salt lake area resorts, is safe, fun and surprisingly efficient.  As evidence, my longest wait this whole winter was a whopping 10 minutes!  Even UTA can’t compete with that!  True, I could have ridden the bus or even carpooled with friends, but hitchhiking, in my opinion is part of the skiing experience.  It allows you to meet new and interesting people.  It allows you to trade stories and share secret stash information.  And if you’re lucky, it leads to a friendly beer in a crowded ski bar at the end of an epic day.

I’ve hitchhiked with and without my gear.  I’ve hitchhiked in snowstorms and on beautiful days.  I’ve hitchhiked with fellow hitchhikers and I’ve flown solo.  All have led to different experiences and results.  But all have helped me formulate a few key ideas on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to hitchhiking during ski season.  Here’s what I know:

  • Thumb positioning is vital.  Too high and/or straight screams desperate.  Too low says, “I don’t really care.”  A slight bend to the elbow with the thumb at a 45 degree angle to the ground is perfect form.
  • Tall tee = long wait.
  • Luggage = longer wait.  Traditionally, the more gear you have the longer you’ll wait.  Tip:  Hitchhike fully dressed (ski boots on).  The appearance of less gear makes you more likely to be picked up.
  • Smile.  Look excited.  And for god sakes try not to act hung over!
  • Sport resort gear.  If you’ve got resort apparel wear it with pride!  The resort name and logo gives you credibility.
  • Ditch the headphones.  Nobody wants to pick up someone who won’t say a word the whole ride.
  • Share the wealth.  A thermos of coffee or box of donuts can do wonders for your wait time – think about it!
  • Early bird gets the worm.  Show up early.  Those heading up for first chair are more likely to pick you up than those rushing to get the last of the freshies.

Consider these tips my hitchhikers guide to, well . . . hitchhiking.  Hopefully they help you in your quest for fresh tracks.  And the next time you see a hitchhiker on the side of the road, pick them up.   After all, its ski season!

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