Blood, Sugar, Dirt, Magik
A few weeks back I was watching the long-running CBS news staple, 60 Minutes, when much to my surprise and chagrin, the Red Hot Chili Peppers were being interviewed as one of the main segments. What the… The pure notion of this had me torn. On the one hand I thought that it was SUPER cool that one of my favorite 90’s bands was being acknowledged for their staying power, but on the other, this was NOT cool at all. It was in that very moment that I came to the realization that I had become my father, bless his heart, regularly watching this dinosaur of a news program, and there, in between the ticking stopwatch and Prilosec commercials, were one of the rowdiest bands of my 90’s youth, all in their late 50’s, early 60’s glory, still rocking out and still at the top of their game.
What does this have to do with trails, you ask? Well, like the Chili Peppers, many of the 400-plus miles of trail in the greater Park City system have been around since the early nineties. Rambler, Lost Prospector, Gravedigger, John’s ’99, CMG, Apex, Keystone, Eagle, T&G, Sweeny’s, John’s and Spiro to name just a few. These were the trails I was introduced to when I first moved to town in the 90’s and like the Chili Peppers, they are still rocking and relevant, nearly 30 years later. And while most of these rock stars have aged very well, (with a little trail-love) there are a few that have been “loved to death” by their loyal fanbase.
When PCMR veteran, Rick Silver, cut Spiro in the mid-nineties, it was pretty much the only singletrack route that allowed you to climb into the upper reaches of Park City Mountain. It was a stout climb by any standards, but a heavily used one in those days. Fast forward 15 years and the first purpose-built, directional, uphill-only for bikes trail, Armstrong, was completed. With bailouts on both HAM and higher up, off Mid Mountain, Spiro became the default downhill route of choice. As trail use increased and bikes become lighter, longer, and faster, Spiro would see more and more downhill use. Unfortunately, with its steep, punchy grades, particularly on the lower two miles, the trail was just not designed to handle this type of heavy downhill traffic and degradation ensued. And to add fuel to the Red Hot fire, lower Spiro had also become extremely popular with hikers due to its close proximity to hike-friendly trails such as Armstrong and Dawn’s, creating a dangerous situation for ALL trail users.
The MTF team attempted a major overhaul on lower Spiro several years ago, but despite our best efforts, it quickly became a rutted, rumble-strip of a trail by mid-summer and every summer thereafter. In an effort to alleviate this unsustainable and dangerous trail conundrum, we conceptualized a “lower Spiro alternative”. What if we built a bike-only, downhill trail using modern, sustainable, trail-building techniques? And what if we made it more safe and more fun than the original? As I write this, dirt work is well under way on “Seldom Seen” the new, lower Spiro alternative. We hired our good friend and trail-builder extraordinaire, Chase Smith, to do the build and we’re confident that this latest addition to the Park City trail system will be a smile-inducing, game-changer for the getting riders safely back down to the base area. And as for the old rock star, lower Spiro… It will return to its 90’s roots and be reinvented as “uphill only” for bikes as well as a great, safe, hiking option. I think Flea would approve.
Give it away, give it away now… Seldom Seen fun facts…
– Trail length: +/- 2 miles
– Number of switchbacks: 10
– Start: Spiro near Seldom Seen ski run
– Finish: First Time Return, aka, “Hall Pass”
– Will make Silver Spur directional, one-way for bikes
– Lower Spiro will be “uphill only” for bikes, freeing up this zone (Spiro, Dawn’s & Armstrong) to be hike-friendly.
– Adaptive-equipment friendly
– Funded by an Utah Outdoor Rec grant in addition to a generous match from Rebecca Marriot Champion
-Anticipated finish date: Fall of this year