Words: Taylor Boyd
"Don't meet your heroes." Alex Yoder tells me he recalls hearing that expression when he was young. The last time Yoder and I had this conversation, I was wiping a tear aside at Teton Thai—not because the dish I ordered was too spicy, but because the way he told it was hilariously perfect. I asked him to recount it so I could put it on this page for a fraction of the effect it had in the moment. "It's this cool hole-in-the-wall place," Yoder explains of the restaurant where he first detailed this anecdote to me.
"Bryan Iguchi's wife, Lily, helped start the place, and Bryan worked there. We'd go in all the time, and of course I knew who he was. Jackson's a small town, and the snowboard community's even smaller. There was this elder crew of snowboarders in Jackson—Willie McMillon, Lance Pitman, Travis [Rice], Rob Kingwill, Guch. They were the badass dudes you'd see at the resort sometimes, but they would go in the backcountry and film. And we always wanted to go into the backcountry and film, but we didn't know how yet. They had this level of cool we couldn't assume or understand.
We were just a bunch of grom kids causing trouble. This day, I think it was a table of six—the snowboard crew I grew up with. Anders Berling, Wade Dunstan, a few other buddies. I would never order the Pad Thai. Everyone else loved it, but I thought it was too sweet. I always ordered the Pad Ga Prao, which is a basil chili dish. I loved it, sort of craved it. Guch brought all this food out to the table and set a Pad Thai in front of me.
I was like, 'Oh, sorry, I ordered the Pad Ga Prao.'
And he was like, 'No, you had a Pad Thai.'
I was like, 'I'm pretty sure I had the Pad Ga Prao.'
He's like, 'No man, you had a Pad Thai.'
So I was like, 'Ok, yeah, no worries.'
If it was someone other than Guch, I might've argued the point a little harder. But because it was someone I admired, I just thought, 'whatever; it's cool.' I'll sacrifice that for not arguing with a hero.
Not long after this, I started working there with Guch and Lily. Over the next six years, I became part of the Teton Thai family. Guch and I started snowboarding together, and he became a mentor to me. He taught me how to snowmobile, how to be in the backcountry safely, and encouraged me to do avalanche courses and wilderness first responder trainings. He took me to new areas and helped me with letters of recommendation to sponsors. Stuff like that. It's funny we had this weird interaction way back when, and he's turned into this amazing friend who I highly regard for many reasons but mainly as someone I can turn to in any scenario. Ironically, in that moment, I thought it had proved this 'don't meet your heroes' phrase, but I couldn't have been more wrong."