It’s 95 degrees as I look from Salt Lake City at the Wasatch Mountains. There’s a bit of snow remaining at the higher altitudes. I just dropped Diana at the airport, and my goal for the day is to find a campsite at elevation. The forecast for this week is record highs — over 100 degrees every day — and as high as 108 in Moab, which is where I was headed. I’ve talked myself out of it for now. There is also a large fire burning between here and there, just in case the heat isn’t enough already.
I head out of SLC on I-80 and immediately begin climbing. The temperature drops to 93. I was hoping for cooler. I turn off and head for Park City, and climb above the ski areas to the top. The giant ski jump ramp, built for the 2002 Winter Olympics, stands out on the hill as I enter town. I’ve forgotten what a busy place this is even in the summer. Tons of mountain bikers are everywhere. It’s a beautiful place, but clearly an expensive place as well.
Just beyond the summit I turn off on Pine Creek Road. My ambient temperature gauge reads 79 degrees, and it feels great. I wish I could find a side road or path to camp out of the sight of all of these people. Unfortunately there isn’t any, so I continue on. The road begins to descend, and the temperature once again begins to rise. By the time I get to Pine Creek Campground, I am down to 5,500 feet elevation. The bike says 106 degrees, though I’m fairly certain it’s really just in the mid-90s. But the sun is strong. I pitch my tent and add a tarp off the side for a little extra shade. The campground office sells popsicles for 50 cents, and I’m all over that.
Once the sun goes behind the mountain the temperature drops quickly and it’s suddenly a very comfortable 60 degrees. Even so, it will be even hotter tomorrow. As much as I don’t want to do an extra 500 miles round trip, I think I’m going to head to Duck Creek, which is at 8,500 feet and has a nice campground in the Dixie National Forest. That should help my heat problem and help my budget for a few days.