GET OUT: Sharing the stoke

By on January 13, 2015
Skier Sam Kinship flies high in the sky during a bluebird powder day at JHMR. PHOTO: AIDEN ULRICH

Skier Sam Kinship flies high in the sky during a bluebird powder day at JHMR. PHOTO: AIDEN ULRICH

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – At 5 a.m. I received a text from an excited friend inviting me to ride Jackson Hole Mountain Resort due to some “epic powder” that may or may not have landed over night. This visiting friend decided he could not miss an opportunity to stand around in the dark with hoards of other ski bums for a chance to ride the first tram.

Initially, I was a bit perturbed at myself for not putting my phone in airplane mode the night before. The only fluffy white stuff I was interested in was the down in my pillow. His excited text only lured me deeper into the blankets.

Said friend did manage to guilt me into going to the Village at a later time. This verbal contract could have been the bane of my existence, but I was determined to enjoy myself and everything around me.

Going to the Village for me is about as extreme of an event as any couloir. I have no problem walking anywhere in the woods endlessly in silence. However, when it comes to hopping through a myriad of bus stops, ticket windows and chairlifts, I feel like I am in desperate need of a guide.

The mayhem of a snowy morning at the Village may create long tram lines, but our 10 a.m. start allowed us to hop onto Bridger Gondola in no time. Fear not, I will not delve into all of the “sick pow lines” we ventured to. I will concentrate solely on the glory of embracing Jackson Hole Mountain Resort on a crowded day.

I felt prepared mentally and physically for the crowds. With my Breathing book on tape in hand, I waited in line, smiled, and stayed positive like any good friend would.

When my comrade decided he wanted to linger in the tram line for the five-box wait, I happily agreed. “I love lines,” I replied. The new tram maze is a bit tricky. It’s nearly impossible to get in and out of. I have a fear of mice, which translates to a fear of being trapped or lost in a maze. I have also heard stories of people getting kicked out for attempting to relieve themselves while stuck in the confines of the tram queue. Before getting into the line, I ventured to the bathroom to prevent myself from being arrested for public indecency and being uncomfortable for the next hour.

Additionally, I refilled the cup of tea in my thermos and added ample honey. This way, I could have something to concentrate on while standing in the shady sprawl of chew spit and breakfast burrito crumbs. I prepared well with ample snacks, both large and small. When I felt nervous, I dipped into my huckleberry stash in the Tupperware at the bottom of my backpack.

By the end of the wait, I was so snacked up on berries, chocolate and other backpack goodness that I felt unstoppable. I walked right into the middle of the tram. My friend remarked at my fantastic mood, and I offered him some more snacks.

Upon reflection, I concluded that it is possible that some of my innate distaste for powder days at the Village could be due to lack of snacks and dehydration. Low blood sugar is known to cause symptoms of irritability, nervousness and anxiety. On this specifically wonderful day, I had none of the above and felt unnaturally joyful.

By the end of the day, my friend was finally tired. He was too tired to do anything else but “apres” in the village. While he met up with some friends, I initiated my escape on the first bus home. I felt happiness that I survived, and rejoiced in the wonderful time I had once I embraced my surroundings.

Some places are not always filled with solitude, however they can still hold something special that cannot be created without large numbers of people: innate stoke. Teton Village on a powder day does not always call me, but on this specific venture, I soaked in some amazing views, delicious snacks, and priceless friend time.

About Elizabeth Koutrelakos

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