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I have a love/hate relationship with Jackson Hole, WY.  I love going there, and I hate leaving.  Ever since I drove to the Tetons 3 years ago, they have been calling me back.  I get the sense that I probably won’t make it though this lifetime without living there at some point.  Great friends, skiing, and memories all reside just over the Teton Pass.  Several times over the last 3 days someone would ask me “So wait…do you live here?”, to which I answered “I wish.”  My friend Errol has lived all over the globe at this point in his life, and I have never seen him more happy to be where he is.

Jackson fosters a culture unique that has been lost in many ski towns.  It has a hardcore population who are deeply committed to their lifestyle.  Work hard, play hard.  They play very hard.  The Tetons provide a natural playground for all those activities that make everyday worth while, and the relaxed WY alcohol laws make partying a clear priority.  JH seems to embrace its youth more than most places I’ve visited.  It is a town that is filled with people who live there simply because they are committed to making the most of their free time.  A lot of them have to work twice as hard to afford to live where they do, but that only solidifies the town’s identity. 

I spent a few days with Crystal and Brian in a picturesque A-frame in the woods.  She stands behind her statement that everyone should ski a winter in Jackson because it will truly make you a better skier.  Crystal is a perfect tour guide because she is as native as it gets.  Born and raised in Wilson, she grew up rodeoing and racing with serious skier parents.  It helps to have someone who knows all the ins and outs of the mountain as well as she does, because there is so much more to Jackson than what you would find on the surface.  Duck out a gate, bootpack a ridgeline, and disappear into one of the many aptly named backcountry options that JH has to offer and you won’t be disappointed.  Anyone can ski the “baddest” inbounds terrain by following signs.  But when the dangers are real and the visibility is poor, stepping outside the gates and exploring is something that can only be done with someone who knows their way around.  It feels like being let into a secret club.  I can rave all day about all the great lines to ski in Jackson, I may even move there some day, but in order to truly appreciate it you have friends like Crystal who know it all to show you where to go.

The competitions are soon to be underway, and they will no doubt bring a lot of good memories and changes of scenery.  Leaving Jackson yesterday, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of regret.  Maybe that is scenery that I could get used to.  Maybe they have figured it out, a way to have your cake and eat it too.  I guess I will have to find out for myself.

See you in Telluride this weekend…

ANDY

P.S. Sorry for the lack of pictures, I swear I will get better at actually having my camera with me.

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