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Trapper Lake

As the first backpacking trip of the year, I was expecting a few things to go wrong on our 3-night at Trapper Lake. That’s not exactly the greatest mindset to be taking into what would probably be the “wildest” (in terms of big game population) trip we’ve ever been on, but somehow we were still confident.

Token trailhead sign shot.

The trip starts with a 40 minute drive to the String/Leigh Lake trailhead. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised by the fact that the drive there was entirely on nicely paved roads, and ended in a [comparatively] giant parking lot. We lucked out getting a spot close to the TH and got all of our stuff together, making sure to keep the bear spray out and accessible.

Bear country.

First impressions of the trail were: road-like, flat, pounded to death, dusty, jammed with tourists. Pessimism… not a good start to the trip. Shift focus.

Further along, the trail downsized from a road to sidewalk, and people in pleated pants and penny loafers became less and less prolific. We stopped for a quick second to put on some bug repellent, and just by chance ended up standing in the midst of a Morel mushroom hot spot! It was the first time I had ever seen one.

Morel mushrooms near the parking lot.

We kept moving along the trail, passing along the East side of Leigh Lake. It’s not hard to see why this area is popular among park visitors – the trail is as flat as a pancake, and the landscape is beautiful.

Beaches of Leigh Lake
Leigh Lake.

Past the end of Leigh Lake, the trail pitches up sharply* and leads you through a burned area of the forest into an open meadow. It reminded me a little bit of Spider Meadow in Washington, and I couldn’t help but imagine that the foliage in that area would be waist-high or taller by the end of summer.

*for someone in penny loafers.

Alpine meadows.

After you finish the walk through that meadow, you descend into a shallow little ravine created by a stream that feeds Bear Paw Lake, which is another less-hammered camping destination past Leigh Lake. The trail winds upwards to the Northwest, and opens up as you reach the small meadow around Trapper Lake. The campsite was about 50 yards off of the trail to the South.

The campsite was small but well built, with a fire pit and some logs set around it to provide some relatively comfortable seating. Surprisingly, the site is hidden from the lake by a little hill and a pile of rocks — rocks that were inhabited by a pair of marmots that were highly accustomed to human presence. They fear nothing.

Nosy neighbors.

We had arrived early in the afternoon, so we killed time by exploring the area and taking pictures.

David
Little wildflowers.

Trapper Lake is pretty small when compared to the other lakes around it, and although it pales in comparison to the magnificence of Leigh Lake, it is still beautiful in it’s own right:

Trapper Lake

Some friends met up with us at our campsite just as the weather turned horrible, but eventually the clouds parted and we were treated to clear skies again. We built a fire and sat around chatting for the rest of the night.

Amy by the fire.

The next day we got up and made plans for a day trip to Holly Lake — located high in a canyon on the other side of Leigh Lake, which we thought was closer than it actually was. During breakfast, our friend Danielle noticed movement on the far shore of the lake, and it turned out to be a moose with a baby! It was far away, so I apologize for the obvious crappy quality of this photo.

Looks just like her!

We watched that pair for a while, and I think the secret hope on everyone’s mind was that they would get all the way in the water. No Dice.

Once the moose encounter was at an end, we said goodbye to our friends (who were only there for one night) and headed out on our day trip. It took us back down most of the trail we had traveled along the day before, through the tourists-hiking-with-dress-shoes-on area, and up into a forest on the Southwest side of Leigh Lake. The incline on the trail could barely be considered moderate, but the drop in ambient tourist level indicated that the barrier of effort was in full effect. Two miles in, we arrived at a junction above the lake, where a sign indicated that Holly Lake was 4.4 miles further on. Once we were [an estimated] 2 miles past the sign, thunder started rolling in the distance, and everything indicated that the weather was about to go to hell. We decided to turn around before reaching the lake; however, we vowed to make it the destination of a trip later in the summer.

On the way back, the conversation turned to mushrooms for some reason (must have been Morel fever), and I spotted this random species in a nice patch of light. No idea what they are though.

Unidentified mushroom species.

We made the rest of the trek back to our campsite, thankful that it never rained. With sore feet, we ambled up to the site and rested for a while — for the first trip of the summer, it was clear that we had bitten off more than our feet could chew.

After a decent night’s sleep (I never sleep that well in the backcountry), we started in on the familiar task of packing up all our stuff in the site. Although it took a little longer than normal, I think it’s excusable for the first trip in almost a year, and the fact that a Moose accidentally sneaked (snuck isn’t a word) up on us and it freaked us out! Once it was about 40 feet away, it saw us, flipped out and ran off – obviously a little less accustomed to human presence than our neighbors the marmots.

Who's nosy now??

On the way out I snapped this picture of a tree growing out of a teeny little rock island in Leigh Lake.

Perseverance.

It was weird to only drive a few minutes a be at a trailhead, as opposed to the 2-3 hours required to really get into the wilderness in Washington. Once we were there, the sheer number of obvious tourists was surprising and almost overwhelming. At first, these things made me feel a little less like camping out where we did was an indication that we had accomplished something that most people wouldn’t do. But the moose encounters and the fact that the people dressed in their Sunday best didn’t venture much past the first mile on the trail went a long way to change my mind. And when you really get down to it, having fewer miles to drive once you get back to the car just means that regular food is closer than ever before!!

I’ve been put in charge of making the banners that will be above any given brand’s entire line of products (those that we stock anyways) for the launch of a new site design. The current site design is okay, but the new one is way better. Anyways, it’s kind of fun, here are some samples (click on em if you want to see the bigger version):

For these banners I start with a 700 x 175 pixel canvas in photoshop, pick out and re-size the manufacturer’s logo that I want from either their website, our supplier’s library of clip art, or just the internet, and then go to town. I don’t really have any templates that I’ve been following, I just kind of make it up as I go. For the most part I’m satisfied, although I think the Baker one kind of sucks.

Lets Vent!

This winter was great in a lot of ways. One way that it WASN’T great was all the hate vibes and unbelievable bullshit that Jackson Hole snowboarders take from the local skiers. Being from Washington, I thought the world had long since evolved past the retarded skier/snowboarder schism. But seriously, not even the ski patrolers here can rise above.

If you fucks would just leave us alone, there would be peace in the galaxy. All season, I just listened quietly to the passive-aggressive quips and comments on bootpacks, in lift lines, and on tram boxes. It’s easy to just play it cool from behind my mirrored goggle lenses, but now I have the power and anonymity of the internet on my side, so I’m done putting up with that crap. You skiers that just can’t grow up and let it die — you’ve had it coming for a while now, so sit back and enjoy.

If you aren’t a snowboarder, you will more than likely be offended by this post. I make no apologies.

1. Early morning passholes: These are the people who own the cars that are already choking the Teton Pass parking lot at 5:30 am. On top of that, they have this elitist fuckwad attitude about anyone else who’s on the bootpack at the same time that isn’t charging up the hill as fast as they are. If you (a normal person) happen to be hiking up the bootpack in the pre-dawn light, you can easily identify these people when two events happen in rapid succession: 1) You turn around and look down the bootpack without seeing a soul behind you. Then, 2) 60 seconds later you are overwhelmed by the smell of unadulterated body odor, so you turn around and there’s a tele skier sighing loudly while goose-stepping on the back of your heels like flies on shit. Check that box, you found one. That’s right, you know who you are. You’re the ones that cut in the “giants only” bootpack steps on powder days. Go get bent. Then get some help.

2. Flunkie Pass Aggros: Almost as bad as “real” passholes, these are the guys that are clogging the parking lot after you’re done with your run, circling like vultures above the dead carcass that is your parking spot. They couldn’t be bothered to drag themselves out of bed even just an hour earlier so that they could get a place to park, but now it’s 10 o’clock or so, they’ve made it up to the pass, and you better believe it’s your job to give them what they want. After all, you should be pandering to their every pompous whim now that they’ve been waiting for 5 minutes for a spot. God fucking forbid that you would cause them to have to wait EVEN LONGER then 5 minutes as you take off your sweaty layers. A word to you jackasses: I was thinking about taking another lap, and now that I’m back at the parking lot, I’m definitely going to. HAAAAAhahaha.

3. Skiers wearing Burton AK stuff (or any snowboard brand):
Seriously? Run your mouth about how snowboarding is gay, while supporting our industry? You simple-minded fucks. You all KNOW that snowboarding is the best thing that ever happened to skiing. Practically every breakthrough technology in the last ten years of so-called “skiing innovation” has been stolen directly from snowboarding tech. So show some respect and kiss the motherfucking ground when we walk by get your own clothing style.

4. Bro-Down Highschool Skiers:
It’s bad enough that you’re wearing snowboarding clothes. Don’t even get me started on the tall-tee motherfuckers, they look like a circus side show. But the weekends and “school’s out!” breaks means you better brace yourself, because it’s gonna be a goddamn debacle at the Village. You swarm the runs like parasites, blatantly putting lives at risk, ignoring the existence of other people, not giving a rat’s ass about anyone whose neon jacket you don’t recognize. The worst is the powder days when your whole hoard attacks the upper mountain, testing your rubber bones off of anything you can find to flail off of. Please understand that no matter how big of a cliff you huck, it doesn’t amount to dick if you can’t do anything but ass-plant the landing. Just thought I’d clarify, because it seems like most of you are confused about that. Wow, that brings me to something else…

5. Ski Videos: Lets get one thing out in the open: skiers ass plant landings in videos over 50% of the time. It’s just a fact. That’s why people have even heard of butt-fucks like Jaime Pierre — they jump off of tall things and land on their asses on purpose. It might take balls to butt-drop off of something big, but it sure as shit doesn’t take talent. Check out this year’s crop of snowboarding videos: you’ll see riders landing big drops and riding away clean. You know why? If a snowboard doesn’t land his drop, the shot simply doesn’t make it into the film. Ever. It’s just a little thing called “competence” that snowboard pros tend to possess. I think the only skier I actually can watch without wanting to gouge my eyes out with rusty forks is Ian McIntosh. You know why? Because he actually lands his drops. If you didn’t land it, you can’t claim it. Going huge with the knowledge that you’re just going to ass-plant the is such a skier M.O. Total fail.

6. Old-Money JH Skiers: You’re like a virus that does it’s best to sap the stoke out of every snowboarder you come across. You’re not even overtly aggressive towards snowboarders; it’s actually the asinine little off-handed comments made in the lift line, or passive-aggressive shit that you say as you slowly pass a snowboarder on a traverse. Yea, you’re right, it is fucking slower to ride this traverse on a snowboard. Did you think up that witty little remark yourself? Of course you didn’t, because you’ve never thought up anything. Well, nothing except for, “Boy, it’s such a disgrace how times have changed.” And yea, I bet it used to be so great in the old days before “snowboarding happened.” When you see a snowboarder, the best thing you could do is to look the other way. I’d rather have you deny my existence then have you open your mouth and prove that you’re a moron. Nothing you have to say is worth hearing.

7. Broboarders.
You bunch of ass clowns are the reason skiers fuck with us in the first place. Figure it out: there are ways to get down the mountain without inciting the wrath of the snowboard-hatred leviathan. I understand keeping speed to get through the flats, but lets keep the passing speed down around mach 1 if at all possible. You’re not going to impress the family of gapers on the traverse when you nuke by them, I promise. Get a life, get rid of the reservoir-tip beanie, pull up your fucking ragged-ass pants, and stop trying to act like you know about shit. You don’t.

Jackson is probably the worst place in the world to try and “fit in” to the Village ski scene as a snowboarder. It’s impossible to escape the reality that this is a skier’s town and a skier’s mountain. But you eventually learn to shut out the persistent bitching of the self-important skier fucks that feed the pointless animosity in the first place. Once in a while, though, it’s nice to retaliate.

Started doing Yoga

Thoughts:

1. I was unaware of both my “third” and “inner” eyes.

2. I googled “Christian Yoga,” because I had a sneaking suspicion that someone would try to make the Buddhist/Zen thing jive with the whole Western/Judeo-Christian belief system. Sadly, I was right. Why can’t they figure out how to take what they want and leave the rest?

3. The instructor’s “take one more breath… …and on your exhalation, release.” is usually about two or three huffy nose breaths for me. Forget about matching exhalations.

4. Yoga does make you fart. A lot. I think its all the inversions. But seriously, don’t go do yoga with someone you think would be offended by a fart, or who you haven’t farted around prior to yoga, or anyone you imagine would think less of you if you farted while in their presence.

5. Downward Dog is a good fart pose.

6. I don’t think I had ever flexed my thorasic spine before three days ago.

7. Seeing a 100lb lady demonstrate a pose and talk to the camera the entire time she’s in it can be demoralizing if you really want to get it, but just can’t.

8. Child’s Pose is a good fart pose.

9. I’d rather do Parachute Pose than Bow Pose.

10. How the hell do you do bow pose while standing on one leg with “open hips??” Seriously

The Winter

Where to start…

Living in Jackson this winter has been way different than the picture I had in my head when Amy and I were sitting around our living room in Seattle talking about moving here. Amy had lived here before, so she figured it would be the same kind of experience as last time, only without the nagging throb of a long distance relationship. I had visited a few times, and figured it would be pretty similar — hanging out and skiing with the same friends, maybe getting out into the backcountry with them for the first time — lots of expectations.

When we finally got here, the gulf between what we anticipated and what actually was… was tremendous. Getting a job was a total joke, the friends we thought we were going to hang out with didn’t call (or call back), and to top it all off, there was nothing but man-made snow at the resort when the season started. For a while at the beginning of the season, even after we both had jobs and passes, we were annoyed with the whole Jackson scene, and wanted to leave as quickly as possible. But things slowly started to change.

It wasn’t as if everything changed “all of the sudden,” but slowly, we both started meeting people and making connections. Amy met some new friends at a girl’s night that was held somewhere off of the Village Road. She met up with a couple of them days later at the village and we all rode together. Because I was in the terrain park almost every day, I met a couple of guys that rode park as often as I did, and we hit the bigger park together when that opened too. As time went on, Jackson started to feel more like a place where I had friends, rather than a place where I was still a total tourist.

There’s something cool about heading out to the resort and running into a bunch of people that you know — that type of thing hasn’t ever happened to me in Washington, that’s for sure. That isn’t to say that every time you see a friend, you end up riding with them — I probably rode 60+ days with nobody but me, myself, and my headphones — but it’s cool even to just say hey to people. And those friends we made early in the season ended up taking us out of bounds to some of the coolest places we had ever been — Granite Canyon, Cody Peak, Four Pines, The Claw, and lots of other places.

I’m sure when anybody picks up and moves their entire life to a far away place, it takes a while to start feeling less like an outsider and more like a native. For us, it took almost an entire winter season. but now that we’re established, the prospect of staying for the summer and another winter seems a lot more inviting.

This is an edit of the year’s riding. I know there are a lot of shots of just me in it, but that’s because it’s hard to shoot video with a point-and-shoot camera, especially with the lens facing downhill (ie: into the imminent spray of snow). The players are:

Matt: From Massachusetts, was a JH liftie, best skier I’ve ever seen ski without any poles.

Katie: From Colorado, worked at Nick Wilson’s, surprisingly good skier despite being born with a horrible condition (ginger hair).

Andy: From Pennsylvania, worked at JH doing grooming, thought he could pull a double backflip this year but never got around to trying.

Conor: From Redmond, currently works for TGR, awesome spotter and even better skier.

Kevin: Probably born at Alpental, works at Teatro Zinzanni with Amy, brought some Washington vibes to Jackson at exactly the right time this year.

Russ: From the East Coast, briefly employed at Elevation Imaging, realized it sucked worse than any mountain job and got himself fired 2 days before the end of the season.

Trevor: From the East Coast, former Elevation Imaging employee, scammed his way into a permanent vacation from work while somehow keeping his pass. Props.


Watch it on the Vimeo site

Taxes

I’m getting a really huge tax return this year. I’m stoked.

Now I can pay off the rest of my medical bills and get a huge chunk taken out of the rest of my credit card debt! 😀

“Misty” 720

I think the term Misty 720 is pretty dumb sounding. Originally, I learned that a misty (in the old Nintento 64 game 1080 Snowboarding) was a directly-over-the-nose frontflip with a 180 at the end of it. This is not directly over the nose, it’s not really a frontflip, and if you add up the inverted rotation and the 360 at the end, you get 720.

Not that I’m saying those smart folks at Nintendo were wrong back in 1998, I just don’t want to keep using the same terminology.

To be 100% accurate, this is a frontside off-axis 720 off the toes. …on a snowboard.