ENJOYING THE SPIRIT OF PARK CITY SUMMER ACTIVITIES
As epic as winter is, even Utahns get tired of the snow. Once the snow melts, trails are revealed, the greenery sprouts, and fingers are crossed that water levels rise in the reservoirs. In the summer, Park City is best known for mountain biking; but just as there’s more than meets the eye for winter sports, summer activities abound.
Kiteboarding, according to the founder of Uinta Kiting, Rob Umstead, “is a lot like wakeboarding, but you’re also driving the boat at the same time.” With the help of the wind, kiteboarders use a twin-tip board but sometimes a surfboard or hydrofoil, harness and kite to glide across the water.
Deer Creek Reservoir is a hot spot for kiteboarders in the summer, with over 100 kiteable days. Uinta Kiting lessons take place at Deer Creek and represents the only permitted kiteboarding school in the state. “It’s a great place to learn because it does get reliable and forecastable winds,” he said.
In this form of “sustainable recreation,” it’s essential for beginners to learn kite control before entering the water. Beginners start with a smaller kite, called a training kite, to build the foundations before moving on to larger, more powerful kites. Next, fledgling kiteboarders learn to safely launch, land, and walk with the kite in the air. Kiteboarders also learn troubleshooting in the water, like how to self-rescue and relaunch in the water. Lastly, they’ll get into the water and put everything into practice.
“Kiteboarding is definitely a sport where you need a little guidance,” Umstead explained. “You don’t want to just watch YouTube, buy some gear, and go out there because things can go wrong. The goal of Uinta Kiting lessons is to get people to the point of being safely independent.”
“Step three of the process is getting the board on your feet and getting those first water starts. If people are doing great up to that point, I tell them, remember, you’re at the hardest part now. We can either stick with what we’ve been doing and grind it in or keep it in perspective on how far you’ve come and know that it only gets easier.”
Rock climbing is exactly what it sounds like, getting outdoors and climbing some rocks. The sport is extremely popular in Salt Lake City, where there are plenty of indoor climbing facilities and places to climb outdoors. There are a few types, but bouldering and single-pitch climbing are good disciplines to start with.
Bouldering requires climbing shoes, chalk and boulders. Besides that, it’s a straightforward discipline of rock climbing without the need for ropes or harnesses and good for practicing new skills.
Single-pitch climbing is a type of top rope climbing where the climber goes up one length of rope and comes back down. This style of climbing can be a helpful introduction to the sport, as the belayer (the person controlling the safety rope) is there to mitigate any falls.
The barrier to entry for rock climbing is relatively low compared to other warm-weather sports like mountain biking or kiteboarding. “The biggest piece of equipment to get first is your own set of climbing shoes; very similar to ski boots, those will be tailored to your foot,” explained Francis Kopp with White Pine Touring. “After that, it’s finding a comfortable helmet and harness. Those are the three big things that you need to be able to tie into a rope and get climbing right away.” All in for shoes, helmet, and harness, Kopp estimates you can be out the door for around $150.
Now that you’ve got your gear, where do you go? How do you start? There are a few avenues that new climbers can take. The first would be to join a climbing gym. The second would be to go on a guided tour like White Pine Touring provides. And the third is to go with a friend.
“It’s good to have a friend who knows what they’re doing and where the spots are. That’s the best way for rock climbers to learn if someone starts out super fresh, to tag along with somebody or a group of people. Early mentorship in your climbing career is really important because that’s going to be what encourages you to continue progressing and be as safe as possible. Of course, there’s always an inherent risk with climbing. Having that early mentorship sets you up for success further down the road,” Kopp said.
Those who enjoy the quiet and solitude of a day on the river keep their favorite spots closely guarded. Luckily, Utah and Summit County have plenty of rivers, streams and lakes for experienced and novice fly fishermen and women.
There’s a lot of knowledge and know-how involved with fly fishing. Where should you go and during what specific times of the year? What bugs are hatching, and what fly to choose? What type of cast should you use and when? What the heck is a midge?
With all these questions, it can be an intimidating sport to enter. Similar to rock climbing, the best way to learn is to go on guided trips. The experienced team at Fish Heads Fly Shop can answer your questions, provide pointers and guide you to the best locations. Online resources are also a treasure trove of videos and information where you can learn how to tie flies or set up your rig.
To start, a fly fisher needs a fly rod, reel, weighted line and artificial flies. You’ll also need a fishing license which can be bought online.
In Summit County, fly fishermen and women will encounter mainly brown, rainbow, cutthroat and brook trout. The most popular rivers to fish are Provo and Weber.
If you’re setting out for the first time, there is some unspoken etiquette to obey. The first is to give each other some space and respect the angler who was there first. Fishing on top of one another can lead to tangled lines or flies catching on people instead of fish. You also don’t want to scare the fish; they will react to sounds and shadows. In addition to respecting your neighbor, you’ll need to respect the water (mind your trash) and the fish. Fish should only be out of the water for five seconds at a time.
Although the fly fishing community can be tight-lipped about their secret spots, most on the river will be open to chatting you up about what hatch they noticed or have recommendations on which flies to use or how the fish have been biting. Just remember to respect each other and maintain the peace, quiet and serenity of the experience.