Let’s begin with the twelve-hour drive that took me across beautiful but desolate eastern Oregon and the entire state of Idaho. Sitting in a hotel room in the desert and looking out the window while someone kicks your chair for twelve hours-that’s kind of what it was like to road trip from Portland to Victor, Idaho, where everyone was to meet.
Now, if you’re wondering who “everyone” is, just look at the photos in this article. But for those who actually read-here’s the crew: John Jackson-a funny eighteen year old who likes girls and practical jokes. Matt Hammer-he always seems to be checking his e-mail (and might be looking for an Internet bride). Jeff Anderson came along, too and would be like my little brother if he didn’t already have an older brother and I didn’t already have a younger brother. There’s also Bryan Iguchi. He has local knowledge of all that surrounds Jackson Hole-without him, we never would’ve found anything to ride. Iguchi is also in the best snowboard movie ever made-Roadkill. Everyone else was somewhat new to me and included Travis Rice, Carsten Bahnson, filmer Nick Allegretto, and our host Nathan “Natron” Gebhard.
When I finally arrived in Victor, Natron gathered up the group and took us to our accommodations at his dad’s cabin. As it turns out-his father is a hunter, so the place was full of animals he’d killed in one way or another. Two bears, one moose, two mountain lions, two elk, many caribou, and assorted kinds of waterfowl were stuffed and hung around the establishment. The place had a nice frozen lake out back, great views from all the rooms, and best of all-a barn full of snowmobiles. That’s the reason we came, after all, to snowmobile … er, I mean snowboard.
I know I told you that there was no point in writing about snowboarding, but if I didn’t, the story would have ended already. So here we go-day one was looking good. There was a little new snow overnight, and the sky was partly clear over Jackson Hole. That changed pretty quickly, though-and left us scouring the village for handrails. We found a pretty cool setup with two short rails in a row. Jackson tried a bunch of variations and finally got a backside 50-50 on the first rail to backside lipslide on the second.
The weather turned crappy on the following day, too-only this time we’d committed to loading up the snowmobiles and heading up the pass. We made the most of it by hitting a few cliffs and building a quarterpipe/hip jump to hit another day (if it ever cleared up). As we pulled back up to the cabin after the sled mission, Jackson decided to get a little workout with some polar bear dives-running out over the icy pond and using the rope swing to hurl himself in. After a couple of dips in the water, he ran through the snow barefoot back to the house.
Our hopes for clear skies were dashed again as everyone awoke to pouring rain the next morning. Normally, this would mean pay-per-view and PlayStation all day in a crappy hotel room. Luckily, we were living in the lap of luxury-big-screen TV, pool table, chess tournaments. We only left the house to get lunch.
The bright side of our weather day was that rain makes snow when you head up the mountain, meaning we had a sunny powder day ahead of us. After a fun morning of riding some short little lines, we went up to the quarterpipe. It was working out for some but destroying others with flat landings, so we decided to do the impossible-make the quarterpipe into a tabletop hip. It took two or three hours of work, but withh the help of new arrivals who kept showing up, it was done by early afternoon.
A little party started to go down as we began hitting our new creation. There was a barbecue, soda pop, “adult” drinks, plenty of food, and a big group hanging around or riding snowmobiles. Whenever you put two things like snowboarding with your bros and a backyard party together, everyone is bound to have a good time. And apparently, 30 or so people showing up at a quarterpipe six miles off the beaten path happens all of the time in Wyoming.
Investigating some jump possibilities on Towgotee Pass after a late start on the final morning proved very frustrating. The problem-at lower altitudes, the snowpack was melting from beneath. This caused unseen holes in the coverage, and when you rode over them on your sled, you sank to the dirt. At one point we had eight snowmobiles stuck in one little meadow. It’s super funny to watch a friend go over the bars riding across an open, flat field. But let me tell you, it’s a whole different feeling when you’re the one getting tossed.
Conditions got better as we climbed up in elevation and found a cliff with a little kicker on it to hit for a while. As the day ended the group returned home to a great meal and went to sleep … or so we thought. But Jackson decided to keep everyone on their toes all night by dressing up in a bathrobe and a creepy old-man mask and scaring the shit out of people just as they were falling asleep. He gets a real kick out of nearly getting his ass kicked in the middle of the night.