Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Riding with Moose

Photo complements of Wikipedia.

I've heard rumors about the moose that lives under the Aprés Vous chairlift, but I hardly believed my eyes when I saw it today. There I was, riding the Nez Perce traverse from Casper over to the north side of the mountain when a GIANT animal appeared trudging through the bushes just below the traverse. It wasn't more than 10 feet away from me! I would have loved to stop and get a photo of Mama Moose, but I thought the thing would have trampled me if I pissed it off. Plus it was a traverse so I wasn't moving too quickly as my board is having an issue with holding wax. How crazy it was, though. Never thought I'd say I'd be snowboarding in the presence of a moose.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas in the Park

David Duffy

First of all...Merry Christmas! It's been a pretty crazy week, like most weeks are leading up to holidays, but it's definitely been fun. After a grueling five days of shooting photos of tourists, I was able to have Dec. 23-25 off to unwind and celebrate. I was ready to get out and shoot some real stuff. Luckily Jackson Hole has installed a decent little park for us to play in. David was kind enough to buy me a new battery for my 1D Mark II N, a much needed Christmas gift. With my new battery in, I realized that my pro camera is quite the powerful instrument. You hardly miss a shot with 8.5 frames per second. I set up shop at the biggest jump in the park and watched David do his thing, all the while firing off my machine gun of a camera. The jump isn't that big, but David was somehow able to pull off backflips, backside 540s and backside 3 tailgrabs. It was a blast and it felt good to get some shooting of my own in. Enjoy!

David Duffy

David Duffy; Backflip

In case you wondered how my Christmas was, I will give you the low down. On Christmas Eve, we went snowboarding. David and I could hardly wait to open presents so we opened eachother's that night. Obviously like I mentioned David gave me a new Canon battery for my beast camera and I got him a down jacket (pretty much essential for JH living). Then we drank delicious eggnog cocktails and roamed around the city looking at the lights in town square. Christmas morning was present time and we checked out what our families had gotten us. I definitely scored some pretty great gifts this year (thanks mom!). We went shredding again and came home a little early to start cooking dinner. I invited my friend Alex over to share David's mom's recipe for a traditional German dish of bratwurst and sauerkraut with potatoes. Then I made my mom's heavenly holiday mint pie for dessert. The night was filled with fun stories, good food, wine, and friends. Being with family would have been unbeatable, but I think we had some good times anyway. So long for now!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Adventures on Teewinot

I am so lucky. Oh yes. I live 20 minutes from the greatest mountain resort in North America. And it even has a big beautiful tram that takes you from bottom to top. No effort required. Today I took my first tram lap. I arrived at the top of Rendezvous Mountain with the most incredible sight before me. It was about 12:30, and this beautiful golden light was gracing the peaks of Cody and No Name, with a giant cloud layer hovering between me and the valley. I felt like I was in heaven, whatever that looks like. I can honestly say I've never been more in awe of the scenery here than I was today. I navigated my way through the rocky face below, and then disappeared into the mystical woods. The cloud layer hovered around the Thunder and Sublette chairlifts where I weaved in and out of the woods. Then I burst into the lower mountain, back to the tourists, back to reality. That one run made my day. It was back to work after that.

Speaking of work, I have quite a story about the quality of tourists that I've been encountering lately. One piece suits, 1980 skinny skis, and step-in bindings have no match to the character I met today while I was shooting action photos on Teewinot (i.e. bunny slope). The first thing I saw was a snowboard whizzing down the hill...sans owner. Now, it's pretty hard to have your snowboard get away from you on the slope. You have to strap your feet into the bindings, and there's no way those would just both "pop off" unless they actually broke away from the board. So little old me, afraid for everyone's safety, ran as fast as I could run (I had a camera around my neck with a huge lens and snowboard boots on) to catch this runaway board. Luckily I was able to kick it a bit and it crashed into a bush. Moments later, I saw a very large human bumbling down the hill, obviously the board's owner. When I got closer, I realized the kid was wearing jeans, had his boots undone, and wasn't wearing tall socks. Yikes. With a southern drawl, he explained to me that he didn't know how to snowboard and his boots were too small so he actually "sledded" down the hill on his board. When he got going to fast, he bailed and the board went flying, ready to destroy anything that got in it's path. Wow. Really? Who let this happen? There were so many people and little kids out today, I couldn't believe that this kid was actually allowed on the slope. I wonder what happened when he unloaded the chairlift.

Anyway, this next week is going to be quite an adventure. It's Christmas week, and the tourists are in abundance. I've already noticed a big change in my photo sales, and I'm excited about it. Bring it on Christmas! I'm ready :)

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Gondola Opening 09
Locals stand in line anticipating the opening of the gondola at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

I woke up yesterday with a big surprise in my email inbox. I regularly receive the JHMR snow report, which comes at 7 a.m. every morning. This time, it announced the opening of the Gondola on Thursday. You can bet that David and I hurried up to the mountain this morning to get the goods.

Snow just waiting to be ripped.

The ride up greeted us with views of untracked powder. We were all stoked to see that they hadn't really groomed anything. We flew out of the car at the top and strapped on our boards as fast as we could. Before we knew it, we were floating down Sundance, looking over the valley of Jackson Hole.

There were definitely some good powder turns to be had. You could even go through the trees in some sections. We had to be pretty conservative though, because rocks were in abundance, just barely covered by the thin layer of powder. I think I was pretty lucky to leave the mountain with only a couple of fresh scratches on my board. After five hours of pretty hard riding, my legs were burning and I decided to call it a day. It was awesome to see everyone stoked about riding again, and I can't wait to see what else the winter brings.

Riding Home
A fairly clear Village Road.

View from the Bus
My daily ride.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Outsider

Even though I used to live in Jackson Hole, I definitely feel like an outsider now that I'm back. I guess I forgot about the fact that my truck's 4WD was busted in 07-08 and I didn't really get out much. Much of the reason for that is because I was broke, and the other part is because I missed David. I wasn't the happiest person, even though we had a 600" season that year. Oh well, I never once regretted moving back to Seattle that February.

Now that I'm back, I feel like I have a clean slate. All of the locals that I knew that year still remember me from my lift-ops days. The mechanics, b & a dudes, lift foremen, liftys, and hosts. It is good to be back. Luckily I have a few friends here who have been kind enough to invite me out of my little cave and into the social world. I've spent a few really fun nights here with girls only. I'm stoked to meet girls that are also good at snowboarding. It's a nice change of pace.

Last weekend local fashion designer Laura Hall threw a fun little shindig at her house. It was called a Salad Bar Party, where everyone has to bring a salad topping, or wine of course. We spent the evening eating salad and then heading out to the Stagecoach in Wilson for Disco Night. Since Thursdays is ladies night, all girls get a free drink and a free cab ride back into town with 3+ people. Tonight, I went to a gift exchange. My original gift I received was a Snuggie, something I was secretly proud of. I could already see myself cuddling up on the couch reading the latest issue of TW Snow. But no, it was stolen away and I ended up with a hand-knit scarf. I guess I'll get more use out of the scarf anyway.

So, I'm starting to feel like I fit in here in Jackson. It's going to take time, but I think I'm on my way. Sometimes when you stay in one place for a while you forget how hard it is to make friends and fit into a new circle of people. When you move, you start fresh, and you never know who you're going to meet.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Good Morning Snow, I've Missed You

My Street
Walking down my street to the bus stop on Pearl.

So, after all of the complaining I've done over the past few weeks, the snow has finally arrived. I spent the last four days at work, standing at the top of the chairlifts while it dumped and the rest of the locals skied. The most recent storm brought us 14 inches on Saturday, 7 inches on Sunday, and today, it's still snowing. This is exactly what Jackson needed. The mountain doesn't look so brown anymore. Check out this week's forecast on NOAA. Looks pretty good, I have to say.

No Parking
We definitely needed plows this week!

All of this white stuff has made my mornings, and job, easier as well. I open the door to a brisk 15-18 degrees, walk down the snowy streets to the bus stop, and enjoy the 20 minute free ride to work. When I get there, I load up my pack with photo gear, and ride up the lift. I then proceed to stand outside for the next five hours asking people if they want portraits taken. I might even get some action shots in off of the beginner runs. Those are always entertaining. like I said, all of this is easier when it's 20 degrees outside instead of last week's -5. For example, yesterday I got to shoot the Minnesota Ski Challenge race. When the racers had their results meeting, I brought a laptop and some framed demo prints from that day. I ended up selling one of the demos and a couple of prints. Since I work off commission, I'd say it was a pretty good day. Oh and the best part -- when I was done shooting the race, I got to poach all of the powder on the side of the course that was closed to the public. Knee deep.

Today was pretty good as well. I shot photos of people from Florida, Dallas, and Alabama. Not sure what the deal is with Southerners coming to Jackson, but there are a lot of them. I saw more than one person wearing jeans on any given day this weekend. Ha! Plenty of gaper gaps are in store for the next couple of weeks. Anyway, the weather was pretty chilly at the top of Aprés Vous, with winds up to 25 MPH. Not fun to stand in. The sun kept peeking through the clouds which made for a beautiful sight.

20 Degree Snow
Sun peeking through the fog at the top of AV.

I have the next three days off, so expect me to be raving about all of the powder I get to ride after the next couple of days. Tah-tah for now!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Ice on My Windows

Frosted Color

So I've been pretty fascinated with the fact that ice actually forms on the inside of my windows. I guess when it gets down to 20 below (i.e. this morning) that stuff is normal. I will say though, it made for a difficult experience when I was decorating for Christmas. We have two front windows in our apartment and I wanted to put colored lights around them. Every time I stuck on a piece of tape, they all fell off. I guess adhesive doesn't work when it's frozen. After decorating, I wanted to take some pictures of my creation. David and I also put up a Christmas tree, and there are some pictures of that in here too. Enjoy my abstract holiday art.


Think Pink


From the Ground Up

Our Christmas Tree

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Chairlift Conversations

Brooks Chairlift
Stevens Pass Brooks Chair. Photo by Amy Galbraith.

I woke up to a blanket of snow on the ground this morning. I gathered up my gear and headed out to the resort for some solo turns. I like riding by myself to a certain extent. It's fun listening to my music, and I never have to wait for anyone. On the flipside though, I get bored. I don't always feel like talking to whoever is sitting next to me on the lift. Yes, it's great to get to know people, but sometimes I just want to chill out and listen to my own thoughts. Whenever I sit down on the chair with a stranger, I get that anxiety that forms when you sit down on an airplane. "Do I talk to them?" "What if they never stop talking?"

I don't know. When I think about it, I've never had a bad conversation on a chairlift. I've met all kinds of characters. One time I was night riding at Stevens Pass in WA and a crazy big dude with long hair, and a beard even longer than his hair, told me that he got buried head first 15 feet down in an avalanche in Wenatchee Bowl the week before. I guess his buddy saved him within minutes. Believable? Maybe...Another vivid memory is when I got to ride the Thunder chairlift in Jackson Hole with the man who always wears fur. Not just a fur coat (which is extremely long and gaudy by the way), but a fur top hat and I believe fur pants as well. The only words I remember him saying were "Yep, the animals know how to do it." ...what?? I always wondered how bad that suit smelled at the end of a long day of riding. Maybe I don't want to know.

Job Update: Yesterday, David went and interviewed with skateboarding website and got the job! He will be working customer service, internet, and many other unknown tasks for Go Skate or Go Home , a skateboard merchandise site. I am also going to be filling in the gaps of needed money by working for Jackson Hole Babysitting . Sounds like a pretty sweet gig, and I'll be able to make a little extra dough when I need it.

On another update, I just wanted to give my congrats to my wonderful boyfriend whose photo was chosen as the "Editor's Choice" in the Washington Trails Association photo contest. It will be featured in their January/February magazine...so proud! Here's the photo:

Little Polka Dot Dress
Little Polka Dot Dress. Photo by David Duffy.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dear Weatherman...

Please stop predicting snow in the forecast if it's not going to happen. I wake up every morning before the sun rises, throw open the door, and there is still no more snow. This -14 degrees that you are giving me tonight is not enough. I need something more. I need the fluffy white stuff. So, if you would, please don't tease me with those silly little snowflake icons. This is one of those circumstances in which I would be happy for you to be wrong. I would rather expect sunshine and be pleasantly surprised when I wake up to a gray blanket sky and a heap of snow on my porch. I realize that I used to live in Seattle and you may think that I'm sick of gray skies, but I'm sorry to say that you have failed. No more sunshine. Please give me snow. Raise the temperatures into the 20s so that we can get those big fluffy flakes that us powder hounds dream of. What did Utah do to deserve such a gift anyway? So, if you could, please tell those storms to move north. We are all longing for some powder turns here in Jackson. Thank you.

P.S. I need at least 14 inches to be happy.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Riding the KTP

Hello again, from Jackson Hole. This week has been pretty uneventful in the forecast, so the "White Ribbon" remains the only ice-ridden run that Jackson Hole locals have shredded. Like I said in my last post, we are very fortunate to have two rails and a few jumps molded into the "Ribbon" by our wonderful Park & Pipe crew. At least it provides some entertainment after the crowds have demolished what was left of a decent groomer.

That being said, David and I made our way out to the resort yesterday to have a little fun. I guess the main excuse for dragging ourselves out to the Village was that we really had nothing else to do in town. The ice is now forming on the inside of our windows now, so any outdoor activity besides skiing or snowboarding is pretty brutal.

The usual suspects, kids dressed in tall tees, loud colors, mismatch prints, and sticker-laden helmets, arrived at the KTP (short for Kiddie Terrain Park) around the same time we did. They were all on skis, which is lame. Sorry, I want to learn how to ski like you too, but freestyle + skis doesn't look cool...especially when they fall because one, or both, of the skis always falls off.

Anyway, David is working on perfecting his frontsides, so I spent part of the afternoon trying to get a good shot of that. He took a pretty good blow to the lower back the other day after catching an edge on the same rail, so I could understand why he was a bit hesitant to get completely over the top of his board. Don't blame him. I'm just the photographer, not the park rider. Here's the best shot though. Not bad for the way he was feeling.

David, frontside boardslide.

After hanging out on the hill and getting a few more cruisers in on Teewinot, we hung outside of Nick Wilson's Cowboy Cafe for a bit. Unfortunately, our beloved Nick's hasn't opened back up for the ski season yet. Can't beat their $6 PBR pitchers after a long day of riding pow.

A tall boy and the tram. Life is good.

Snow is in the forecast all week, so expect some excitement coming from this end of the interweb. Cheers!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Rippin' the Groomers

Making up for lack of snow.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort: A work in progress.

It's been pretty dry here out in powder land. The last three days we had were sunny and practically warm up on the top of the Apres Vous chairlift. I was starting to get worried. Today I had the day off of work, so David and I decided to go for a day of shredding on the "White Ribbon of Death" at JHMR. David still doesn't have a pass yet due to lack of job (boo) so he bought a "beginner" lift ticket and was able to ride Teewinot all day for $12. It actually isn't that bad because they've thrown a little mini terrain park in there. After starting off a little rough (I realized I forgot goggles and sunglasses right when we got to the resort and had to borrow some from one of the maintenance dudes) we had a blast. David hit some rails, and I took a couple of runs on the icy slopes off of AV, where it started dumping snow later in the afternoon. Jackson-ites rejoice! Winter is on the way!

On a side note:
After a fun night of celebrating some real photo sales with David, my co-worker Alex and his buddy John last night at the Caddy, Alex actually convinced me to learn how to ski on Wednesday. Oh that's tomorrow. Shoot. Well, I've never skied before but I've always kind of wanted to, so I'm going to don some dark clothing and be a gaper for the day. Wish me luck!