Let’s just call it a shot of hiking motivation.
Floating up into the sapphire blue sky on the Town Lift, we set out for a morning of hiking as part of the Park City Food & Wine Classic. Geared up with Osprey day-packs and new Ice Breaker T-shirts thanks to Backcountry.com, we looked the part as we disembarked mid-mountain at Park City Mountain Resort with our High West Ambassador guides. The town and rolling valley lie below.
Following Sweeney’s Switchbacks through Aspen groves, we zigged and zagged down the mountain and across open slopes that in the winter are filled with enthusiastic skiers and snowboarders all the while learning about the mining history of this former silver town.
With almost as many hiking trails above ground as mines shafts below, Park City boomed in the late 1800s after silver was found. The town thrived and flourished with miners and wealth. However, when the price of silver drop in the 1950s, the town almost disappeared. But instead of giving up, the miners turned snow into silver opening it’s first ski resort, Treasure Mountain, in 1963, over their formal mining claim.
Along Sweeney Switchback’s and other trails and ski runs around Park City Mountain Resort, much of the mountain’s mining history can still be seen. While hiking down and taken a breather in the cool shade, we passed an old mining crane and dolly line that formally carried silver ore from the top of the mountain to the town below, much like the Gondolas of the 1970s did for skiers.
And this wasn’t the only piece of history we’d visit on our morning jaunt. Descending the mountain trail right back into town (it’s amazing how fast a group can hike when whiskey is waiting!), we walked straight into High West Distillery. Greeted with their famous whiskey lemonades served in frosted glasses, we cooled off and soaked in our new mountain surroundings.
Typically a jam-packed après ski restaurant and saloon, High West Distillery in the summer transforms into a hiker and mountain biker’s new best friend. Formerly a livery stable, to service the workhorses that pulled the heavy ore carts up and down to the mines, and private residence, the saloon is fittingly decorated for its name. With a classy western style that plays with distressed-wood and dark leather features plus some modern touches like illuminated glass art work on the walls, High West made us feel comfortable and welcome around the bar – even in our hiking shoes!
After ordering lunch, we toured the distillery and even smelled some of their new batches that were brewing below before savoring a delicious three-course meal paired with more whiskey – and of course wine.
Between the hiking and mountain air on this morning wine classic event, I was a happy camper – especially after sampling High West Distillery’s Campfire Whiskey!
–More to come on Oregon Winette on the wines we sample at High West Distillery by Robert Craig Winery. —