January 30th - I flew the first leg of my trip from Boston to Salt Lake City, UT. I was placed in first class complements of my uncle who gave me an employee buddy pass. A buddy pass allows friends and family of airline employees discounted airfare and possible first class upgrades. The down side is that you must fly standby. First class was great! I had a nice meal and watched two free movies.
I transferred in SLC to another 737 heading to Missoula, MT. My friends Chris and James picked me up at Missoula (video camera running) and we were on our way to Jay and Erica's house in Hamilton, MT to begin our ski trip. The day wound down by eating diner at a restaurant called the Banque. James had really spicy Cajun catfish and between us we downed a pitcher of iced tea. It seemed appropriate to make that slurping noise through the straw when I reached the bottom of the glass. No one seemed surprised and we all ended up laughing.
I slept in the living room on the air mattress that Jay and E had recently purchased. They wrote to the company because the instructions say that it will blow up in 45 seconds but in reality it takes around 5 minutes. Either way, it is much more comfortable than the floor! I fell asleep during the first few minutes of Return of the Jedi. I do remember waking up to a discussion of how great Princess Leia looks in that skimpy outfit that Jabba the Hut made her wear.
January 31st - This was my first day at Lost Trail Powder Mountain. It happened to be Thursday. This is significant because it's not just any Thursday...It's Powder Thursday! This ski area is closed on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Any snow from Sunday night through Thursday morning is just waiting for people like us to track it up. We had a really fun day. Greg drove up from Seattle and found us at the lift around noon. Jay left around 2 PM to finish up some last minute stuff at work.
After the first few amazing runs the sun came out. Bright beams of sun came through the blue patches between the lightly scattered clouds. The snow crystals on the ground were reflecting and sparkling in the sun. It's hard to describe if you haven't ever seen it. All I can say is that I was completely in the moment. No hurry to make another ski turn. No hurry to take another run. No hurry to leave this particular spot. It was one of the highlights of the trip for me. (This may sound kind of sappy but it's something I want to remember).
We hiked up a small ridge for the last run of the day. There was a long stretch of powder that we all planned to ski. We debated taking out the video camera and decided against it. James jumped over this small lip for his entrance to the powder trail. He had good form in the air and a good landing...until...skies stopped cold.... James kept going...and performed the best double eject to immediate face plant, front-tumble and self described brain freeze of the trip. We should have used the video camera!
On the drive home, I spotted a bald eagle flying in the opposite direction, over a river next to the road. James pulled out the video camera and Chris spun the SUV around. We spotted the eagle perched in a tree and James got it taking off on video. It was a really big, beautiful bird!
James and Erica prepared a killer homemade chili for diner. It was packed with beans, tomato & steak...loaded with steak! We topped it with grated cheese and sour cream.
After we ate, we watched film footage from last years ski trips. Clips from Crystal Mountain, WA, Whistler B.C, and Back Country near Jay Peak for starters. All footage was edited (J&E production) with great music. Some of the best scenes were food scenes that caused lots of laughing out loud. Watching this video brought back some great memories and laughs. This really got me excited for the rest of the trip!
Feburary 1st - I woke up to hear that Lost Trail received another 4" of powder last night and it was still snowing. We got to the mountain and purchased our $20 lift tickets. The connector trail from the base of the mountain to the lower chair lift (the lift is actually down slope from the base lodge) is a powder run! Today, every run just seemed to get better, steeper and deeper. Jay and James led us to perfectly spaced woods and deep powder for just about the whole day (I can't wait to see this years video). The last run of the day led us directly to the lower level of the parking lot. We arrived around 4:45 to see Erica (E was meeting us at Lost Trail after she finished work) driving by the exact spot where we came out of the woods towards the lodge! We were behind a snow bank and quickly started waving our poles and yelling ...Erica, Erica, Erica. So we hiked a short way to the Forester and loaded up our skis for the drive to Jackson Hole, WY. We were on the road around 5 PM.
February 2nd - Woke up at a leisurely pace and went food shopping. No one is sure what we got that totaled $200! We skied a half day in really sunny packed-powder conditions.
We had a short, easy hike from the condo to the small "slow and low" connector lift that gets us to the ticket windows and tram. For a mere $44 half day or $59 full day you are given lift privileges at Jackson. They don't however promise powder like Lost Trail.
Our first run began in line for the Tram. Greg was in disbelief that we would pick a Saturday to wait in line for the tram. It took 45 minutes to make it on. I actually had a blast in line. There was a group of 7 kids (around 8-10 years old) in the line next to us. Each one had their name on a nametag stuck to the front of their helmets. I kept addressing them by name and they couldn't figure out how I knew them. One girl had a sticker that said "ski like a girl". I asked if she skied like a girl and she went on for a few minutes about how girls are better than boys in general. They were really cute and kept me laughing for a while. Greg was still a little annoyed about the wait and the kids were actually in front of us. He commented that even though they are small they still count as a person when getting on the Tram. He went on to offer "10 points for each one that gets run down on the mountain". I guess one of the mothers overheard this comment and took it out on James who had not really been involved with the kids. The mom looked directly at James and said that her kids would ski circles around him. I don't think that James had a problem with that.
The tram ride was quick and comfortable. No wind, no condensation and great views of the trails and surrounding mountains. It was a sunny day with a blue sky. We skied various steep trails on packed powder with a few areas of hard pack. The day ended with a couple of gondola rides and some cruisers.
Back at the condo we dined on home made pizza inspired by Jay. Chris, James Greg and I followed up with a trip to the Mangy Moose pub. For a mere $8 cover we were privileged to attend a ZZ Top cover band concert from Texas. They were wearing fake long beards and shiny colorful suits (I didn't know that ZZ Top was a gay band - but I digress). There were 3 women in the bar (two were waitresses) so we shared a couple of beers and moved on to the ...Log Cabin in Jackson Village. It was a popular place with pool tables, Foosball and a cute waitress in tan leather pants. After a considerable amount of beer and Jaggermister shots I started talking to a group of woman at a table near us. I met Brook, another woman whose real name is unknown (a self proclaimed "man hater" with a new nipple ring that she wouldn't show anyone) and her friend Erica. We ended up with Brooke at some all night diner eating breakfast and fried mushrooms. She invited us to go to some hot springs with her mom and church group the next day. I know the suspense is killing you but...we didn't go. Chris drove her home and exchanged numbers with her.
On Sunday we slept late and prepared to watch the Superbowl. Prior to the game I was watching the cheerleaders and decided that Football would be much more interesting if they let the cheerleaders play the game. This theory was proven wrong when the Pat's won in the final few minutes. It was a really fun game.
Sometime during the day I see a Simpson's clip. It's about Bart ordering a "Super Squishy" from the mini mart.
Bart: Give me a Super Squishy - All Syrup!
Minority Mini Mart Worker: That's never been done!
Bart: Here's a $20. Make it happen.
Minority Mini Mart Worker: If you survive...please come again (with a smile).
This should be required viewing for everyone. Really funny.
After the Football game we watched Clear $ Present Danger. Jay says, "This movie isn't realistic. Sending the Deputy Director of the CIA to Columbia is like sending Captain Picard from Star Trek to an away mission! Captain Kirk went but that was for the girls" I think that Jay should become a lawyer with arguments like that!
The next highlight was skiing at Grand Targhee and finding powder stashes on these long traverses off the top. We also did high speed cruisers top to bottom a couple of times. Again perfect warm and sunny weather.
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