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I first clipped into skis at the top of a gradual, rolling hill in my parents’ backyard. The skis had been free. After a yard sale, a neighbor was giving everything away that she could so she’d have less to take to the thrift store.

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My best days in the mountains have all started during the gray dawn hour, when you almost need a headlamp, but not quite. I love the building anticipation of driving the pass in the dark, summiting just as the horizon starts to turn pink.

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Midwinter warm spells reveal the dirtier side of the season. All it takes is a few sunny afternoons to melt away the thin blanket of snow that keeps everything looking like a fairy tale set. Just a few degrees of temperature fluctuation and the once pristine snowbanks begin to reveal their t…

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There’s something romantic about the idea of a solo skier pioneering a new line, a lone figure breaking trail in the predawn black, one person with a mission. We envy that lack of distraction and that self-sufficient sentiment.

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I saw my first fat bike in a Walmart, and I thought I was hooked immediately. Some of that enthusiasm may have come from the fact that I was in college, and I was at said Walmart sometime between the hours of midnight and 1 a.m. Some of it may have been because I was given permission by a sl…

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I used to have a bunch of excuses for not wearing a helmet. I’d leave it in the car on ski days when I was just planning on taking photos or on days where the snow was bad, so I wouldn’t be going hard, or on days when the snow was good because it would be softer when I crashed.

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Preseason skiing in the Tetons generally follows a reasonably predictable pattern. After the first few real storms of the year Targhee is usually good to go for uphill traffic, swiftly followed by some of the grassier shots on the pass, and some areas on Togwotee Pass.

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Every year around Thanksgiving a large group of friends and acquaintances gathers for Friendsgiving. It’s a way to celebrate the traditional holiday for those of us who live far from our families; but, maybe more importantly, it’s also a sort of unofficial start-of- winter party. We reconnec…

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Most magic is just good math, expressed physically. Photographers love to rave about that time they caught the “magic hour,” shooting in that brief golden window of day slipping into dusk. What they really mean is that they planned ahead enough to take their photos at a time when the earth’s…

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I was content in my life, mountain biking on the new Skyline trail with my partner, but when you passed us you caught my eye. I couldn’t stop thinking about you for the rest of the day, and last night I lay awake for hours wishing you’d stopped to talk to me.

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For many people time spent on the starting line of any race or competition comes with a specific state of mind. Some are able to empty their minds, focus only on the event before them as they center themselves and find inner calm. Others panic, wishing they could use the bathroom one more ti…

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Growing up I spent way too much of my time outdoors bushwhacking. My family hunted every fall, and in what may have been a subconscious effort to dispel Idahoan stereotypes of deer hunters cruising dirt roads at dusk, slamming cheap beer and shooting whatever they could get to freeze in the …

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My introduction to running was middle school cross-country. We practiced on the gravel roads and mountain trails of northern Idaho, and then spent our weekends racing around city parks and high school tracks. There were a lot of downsides to running cross-country in the small school league w…

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I have a love-hate relationship with snow. I long for it all winter, keeping an intimate knowledge of the forecast mentally cataloged, counting every inch as it falls. But by the end of April I’m usually ready for it to be gone. Not melting, but gone, all the way. The sun is out, the grass i…

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My first experience with Strava, the exercise tracking app, came in high school, when I swore a solemn oath never to use it, in exchange for an introduction to a new bike trail network on Moscow Mountain. The reasons for the oath were twofold. The trails our aspiring group of freeriders was …

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Thursday morning I got on the bus in Driggs, Idaho, to go Jackson for work as usual. We made it to Victor, found out the pass was closed and the driver informed us he was going to have to take us around, way around. I didn’t get on the bus Friday morning, but the same thing happened.

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Last week I rode my bike on dry gravel roads in shorts and a T-shirt. Birds sang, and I imagined that I saw leafy buds on the trees in the yard, sprouts of green from the flower beds. Then it rained, and then snowed, and then rained again, and then did both at the same time for quite a while…

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Immediately after World War II skiing saw a huge boom across the U.S. Looking at ski area histories from that era reveals a common theme: Grab some land, piece together some sort of lift, cut some runs and sell wooden skis and bamboo poles to anyone who could be convinced to give the sport a shot.

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I’m not sure the first place I saw it — maybe on a bumper sticker on an old Subaru, maybe Sharpied on the wall of some ski town dive bar — simple slogan, four words: Ski More. Talk Less. According to (wordy and hotly debated) webpages, it originated as a mantra for ski instructors. Less talk…

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Jaelin Kauf’s mogul highlight videos have been playing at the grocery store for weeks in preparation for the Olympics, and every time I check out with whatever questionable ingredients have made it into my cart I’m reminded what a crappy skier I am. I’ll never make one turn with that sort of…

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The last time the government shut down I got all excited after the fact. I wasn’t paying enough attention at the time, but a few weeks later I read an article about the shutdown’s effects on federally managed lands, and my eyes got huge.

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I had crashed two runs earlier, and my butt was still sore. I’d bounced off the rock, somehow whacking the heel of my binding into an astonishingly tender part of my posterior, and then pinwheeled into a tree, opening my arms to embrace it, hoping I wouldn’t find the sort of branch that woul…

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The snow was falling hard enough that we could hear it. Not the soft patter of rain in the trees, but a thicker muffled settling. We geared up in the parking lot, discussing the avalanche forecast and the band of red that headlined it. We were cautious, but not really worried. We knew where …

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It took START Bus Steve only two days to learn my name, and then another one to learn how to spell it. After I packed my skis under the bus the first time our conversations have veered toward the discussion of snow, or the lack thereof. At first I felt guilty about expressing my longing for …

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There are a lot of evening events that cater to outdoorsy people around here. Local calendars are lined with avalanche awareness nights, ski film premieres, outdoor nonprofit fundraisers and the like. Most of these events involve free beer, and there’s almost a dress code: a homogeneous sea …

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The skintrack started out mellow, winding nearly flat along the creek, meandering between trees, never really gaining enough elevation to make skiing feel worthwhile. Where it broke into a “Y” a splitboarder was making use of the “facilitrees,” and I thought I heard him snort a little under …

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It’s still two weeks till Targhee’s opening day, but Saturday the parking lot had about as many people as you’d expect to be there on a slow weekday afternoon during ski season, and there were more dogs, a lot more dogs.

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My first fall in the Tetons I think I drove Teton Pass four times. Two of those were for multiday trips, and I think on all four occasions I checked my oil and power steering fluid before I pulled out of the driveway.

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Every time I cruise through Yellowstone or Grand Teton National Park I’m on the lookout. Not for wildlife, but for the hordes of camera-brandishing tourists along the road that signify some sort of animal. Or maybe it’s just a stump. No one is actually quite sure, but they’re merrily burning…

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This kid’s sweatpants are tucked into ratty wool ski socks to keep them out of his chain ring, and he’s wearing a windbreaker that looks like it was designed to fit a chunky long-haul trucker, not a skinny high school mountain biker, but he’s charging the rock garden with a precision I can’t…

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I’d like to be able to say that my first “real” job was swinging a hammer, but the only hammer swinging that actually happened was when my brand new, too-heavy hammer fell out of my too-big toolbelt and hit me in the shin every few steps while I swept and tidied up worksites. I was just star…

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My knee was on fire and I was making little grunting noises with each step that sounded like something from the later stages of a Pika mating ritual. As we crested the ridge behind Targhee, I was feeling just about spent, out of water, down to one last Oreo and half of a balsamic flavored Tr…

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Sometimes I see people running on the road, or on a bike path, and I look at them with the sort of face that’s usually reserved for professional bowlers and darts players. That look that says, “I realize what you’re doing probably took you a ridiculous amount of time and effort to master, bu…

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When I was a child I abhorred bug spray. Every time we went camping my mother would line us all up from tallest to smallest and douse us liberally in it. We’d cringe with our eyes clenched shut and scream that she was torturing us.

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For the past two springs I’ve done this thing where I leave the Tetons for a week to two, right around the end of April and the beginning of May. And while I hate leaving this area I’ve been surprised at what a boon these trips have been.

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I used to not visit new places because I didn’t know anyone there, therefore I didn’t have any place to stay. I predicated my journeys on whether there was a bed or a pull-out couch or a floor available to me at the destination. Thus limited, I found myself always texting friends and acquain…

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Remember that one time you went somewhere super awesome, but when you think about the trip you’re frustrated because you took too many pictures? Nope? Yeah, that’s never happened to me either, on a personal trip at least.