- My flippant use of language is not meant to offend or demean anyone’s beliefs.
- There is no way I could acknowledge each of the 50 awesome skiers on this trip. Please don’t be offended if your name is missing. My heart is larger than my text.
- I cross the big pond tomorrow, so won’t be able to monitor comments. Please forgive my lack of responsiveness.
For each of the past six years, I have joined the Totally Bogus Ski Club for a trip across the state. There’s a bit of a story behind the group’s name, but I won’t go into that, other than to explain that Bogus Basin is our local ski hill. The important thing is that every year, our intrepid leader, Porter, assembles us on a Thursday afternoon in early March. We cram an incredible cargo of ski gear, chic après-ski duds, food, liquor, and hyperactive bodies onto a chartered bus and party our way towards the Idaho-Wyoming border. Six hours and many laughs later we disgorge at Grand Targhee Ski Resort. We stumble about in the dark, schlepping gear up to the lodge and into our rooms where we collapse under European style down comforters to dream about the possibilities to come.
Last year I wrote about my “come to Jesus” experience on this trip. I thought that would be the adventure of a lifetime and that nothing could top the euphoria I felt on that day. I was wrong. Our first morning was pleasant with fresh but tracked-up snow and blessedly no fog. The next morning dawned to a “reported” foot of new powder. That snow report catapulted me from bed, lactic thighs forgotten. I’d promised to ski with Alex that morning so I was thrilled to catch up with him on the way to the lift. No problem connecting, thought I. But by the time I’d stomped into my bindings and stowed my unruly powder-cords up my pant leg, I looked up to find no Alex in sight. Remembering the skier’s code —there are no friends on powder days—I shrugged and headed off on my own.
The foot of freshies had grown since the official snow report. When I tipped my skis off the edge of the mountain, I met resistance with snow that pressed against my thighs. Stunned, I missed my first turn and sat down to avoid a tree-well. Giggling uncontrollably, I dusted myself off and launched with renewed vigor. Two turns later I was drowning behind a mouth and nose full of downy powder. Snow packed into your open maw doesn’t melt as fast as you might think. A few turns later I stopped to clear my airway.
Throughout my ski career I’ve heard people yammer about snorkel-deep powder, but I figured this was the hyperbole of braggarts. I know better now. I really did have to struggle for air because each turn flung a fresh mouthful of snow at my face. I stopped again for air and found a studly bug-eyed young’un standing near me spitting snow.
“How do ya breathe in this?” I asked.
“Man, I dunno! I’ve never seen anything like it!” He yelled back.
The ride back up the lift was nearly as exhilarating as the downhill journey. Skiers snaked through untracked fields of white. Snow sprayed to their sides and over the tops of their heads. At one point a family with two small children paused to regroup under the lift. The kid’s heads were barely visible above the snow…and they were standing upright! Even the lift operators were caught up in the contagion of joy.
After a few runs, I caught up with new ski pals, Marty and Donna. We ventured deeper into the timber looking for untracked real estate. Then I caught up with friends Keith and Tyler and Targhee-newbie, Ted. We continued to float through the trees, never straying too far out of sight from one another, another important skier’s code. At one point, I glanced uphill to see my red-jacketed buddies floating between aspens, a wake of snow spraying around and behind them and a veil of fluffy flakes falling between us. Music from my I-pod formed the backdrop to a dreamy, almost out-of-body scene. Not being a particularly emotional person, I was shocked when my heart nearly burst with Agape.We broke for a quick lunch where we met Bill who was busy drying out his helmet—the unlucky target of the waitress’s slippery tray of water glasses. Keith peeled off his damp parka and fumbled with an odd lump in his sleeve. Curiously probing the cuff of his sweater, he found bonus material, which began to emerge from his arm like a furry weasel. We gawped as he pulled and pulled and out flopped a sock!
“So that’s where it is! My wife was looking for this!” he muttered as we cascaded in giggles at the dumb fuddled look on his face!
After lunch we headed out to find the famed Ski Patrol Shrine, buried deep in ungroomed timber. Along the way, Bill took advantage of an innocent little sapling that got in his way. Gentleman that he is, he restrained himself and left it unmolested. As the runs added up, groups of skiers morphed into new groupings and a few skiers peeled off, headed for the hot tub. I ended the day in the company of Keith and Roma, a five-foot bundle of energy and fun.
The following morning broke to a tantalizing blue sky, which teased us out with fewer layers and high hopes for stunning views of the backside of the Tetons. But by the time we’d summited, Targhee’s famous fog poured over us like a bottle of whole milk. We brailed our way down to lower elevations and spent the day enjoying the remnants of an epic powder day. I finally caught up with Alex and his friends Jonathon and Amy. But I didn’t catch up for long because they bounced through the cut-up snow like the pros they are, leaving me gasping for air and praying for a few more BTUs from my thighs.
By 3 PM Sunday, even the die-hard skiers were back, changed, packed, and ready to head home. Again, we squeezed everything into the bus and headed out of the dizzy peaks to enjoy the leftovers of Porters hospitality. As we munched and guzzled, the bus headed toward the setting sun that cast a Midas glow over fecund fields of Eastern Idaho. In the distance on our left, another pearl-necked range of peaks watches over Eastern Idaho’s agricultural belt. Giant wind turbines hunker over wind-prone ridges, gleaming with promise against the darkening sky.