Friday, March 30, 2012

A Snowboarder On the Road

Jet planes are like time travel. Still, I was the last to arrive. A combination of my love for the demo and Utah's lack of measurable snow had my flight touching down in the late AM hours on Monday. Of course that meant that Snowbird got dumped on to the tune of a foot plus. Closed the canyon to anything but 4WD or chains. My ride had neither. An hour wait at the bus stop had me jonesin' (is that a thing people say anymore?). I finally got to the 'bird after noon and met the rest of my crew stopping for lunch. Not me. I'll see you at the lifts. Knee-high fluff on groomers, much deeper drifts. Ben tackled one up to his shoulder. He's 6'2". That deep. And me with only half the day to scrounge for leftovers. After the rest of the group wore out, Ben and I headed back to the Tram. Who should we run into for the eight-minute ride up but my old friend Benny. Sometimes it's just easier than texting. Two laps later and the Tram was closed along with the rest of the mountain. Benny provided guidance and hope for the next ten years of my life. That's how much older he is than I. He still rides harder than anyone at any age I know. Helps to have that Tram in your back yard.

Benny's actual back yard
Speaking of back yards, Benny lives in Aubrey and Josh's back yard, so when the crew crammed their castle, I crashed with Benny. Late-night crab legs and Peddie Files. His lady works at some high-end restaurant and brought home the snacks to refuel the shred legs. We didn't even get to the chicken parm.

Sunny PowMow smoke break
Next morning was a later start. Powder Mountain was the objective with Grand Targhee on the docket for that night. The road trip was taking shape. Bright sun greeted us at PowMow along with an icy wind. The pow started off dry but softened up as the day progressed. Laps through Powder Country. Bus transfer. Then, disaster. Shanna dropped into the line first. A hundred yards, then out of sight into the aspens. Ben turned on his Go Pro to catch all the action. Cassi, Aubrey and Kyle each took their own line before I dropped, fully mobbing. A few trees into the glade came a sight I'll never forget. Shanna, face down, twisted around five trees. Is she joking? Is she... dead? My thoughts were racing. I called out several times before reaching her. She did not respond. As I got to her I heard her panicked breathing. Any breathing is good breathing. Then, she lifted her head and arm. With that, Ben disappeared for the road and ski patrol.

The next half hour was the longest of my life. Shanna wasn't bleeding and she didn't show any signs of broken bones. Her helmet was cracked for six inches with wood embedded in holes on the other side. Her memory was spotty. She asked the same three questions every two minutes. What happened? What did I do wrong? Do I have all my teeth? Occasionally she'd ask about her board. She forgot who Ben was but knew her name and the names of those around her. After a few minutes, I decided to climb up hill and test cell phone service. I was able to get through to 911 and instruct them to my whereabouts. I don't know if Ben got to ski patrol first, but eventually they appeared atop the ridge. They made their way to me and then down to Shanna. To cut this story short, Shanna got a toboggan ride to the road followed by an ambulance ride back to Ogden. She was treated and released with a moderate concussion. She regained most of her memory, but still has a few hours missing. The GoPro footage filled in a little of that. Without her helmet, well, the scene would have been entirely different and grotesquely worse. Pain killers and no more riding for at least 10 days. Shanna's riding this trip was over. Without a helmet, her life may have been over. Maybe I'll put that GoPro footage up sometime.

Aspen-induced helmet break
That didn't stop us from putting rubber to road with Driggs, Idaho on our minds. Shanna finally got the nap she needed. A palatial rental cabin with Teton views and hot tub was just what everyone needed. We took the next day off as Grand Targhee hadn't gotten fresh snow and was alternating from 20s overnight to 40s during the day. A little day-drinking, a little tubbing, some napping and kingly eating pressed the 'reset' button. Shanna remained drowsy and dizzy. That didn't stop her from checking out the Tetons when they finally popped. With a little lift from a friend.

Drunks shouldn't give the concussed piggy-back rides.
Targhee was gaper day. Ben rocks the same one-piece that Renee Renee wore in the DC Mountain Lab movie. Highlighter yellow. Plus a fanny pack, three bandanas and a gold-painted helmet. Good looks. He lent me a pink bandana for some flair. Transitional spring riding. Hard and fast in the morning, soft and slow by 2. Beers and nacho fries. Summary:

Gaper crew
The last stop was Montana. At least the sunny warm days made for easy driving and great scenery. No unscheduled stops for deer or bison on the roadway. Just mountains, sky, trees and that big sky.

The snow at Big Sky Resort was the same roll of the dice as Targhee. For a couple hours the snow was just right to rip. Before that, death's glaze; afterward, quicksand. Cold Smoke beers, Yeti Dogs, back to the condo for hot tubbing, then Thai food and the first birthday of the trip.

Lone Mountain, home of Big Sky and Moonlight Basin
Moonlight Basin replay the next day. Plus some views of the Freeskiing World Tour qualifier. Bombing, hucking, spinning, cheering. Clueless announcers, sunbathing cougars. Everyone loves backflips. Then straight to the Broken Heart smoke shack. I can't tell you where it is, but it was the best view I've ever had whilst taking a leak. That was the ender-ender. No more injuries. Chocolate cake for the second burfday. Cholula does not make cake taste better. Lemonade Mike and Ikes make everything better. Never did get that Graham Slam ice cream. Always a reason to go back. That and the peak tram at Big Sky.

Suave on the road
Long trip back to SLC. Utah is not a lotto state. Idaho is. Border village looked like the carnival was in town so many people at the gas station buying tickets. Little person biker sighted. Wind howling like Ozzy circa 1983. Terrain looking like North Dakota plus volcanic substrate. Giant lake plus salt. Giant air vehicles once brought us together, now bring us home. 


  1. It was relatively memorable trip. I'm unbelievably thankful to have such amazing friends who took care of me after my crash. I'll likely never know what I did to end up tangled in the trees. I do know this: I will never ride without a helmet. No gear is fool proof in protection, but that helmet was the difference between life and death.

    PowMow, I will return to ride you another day.

  2. It's funny that you use the word 'memorable'.

    1. I believed I prefaced that with "relatively."


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