Rocking down the highway! Maria and I made the longest leg of our journey in mild snow — seven and a half hours. Did I tell you our all-wheel-drive rig turned out to be a rear-wheel-drive 4Runner with Texas plates? I don’t know anything about Toyotas, except I know a lot of people love them. When we got to Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Albuquerque, and the attendant was helping us pick out an AWD or 4WD vehicle, he suggested the 4Runner. It looked tough, and had a lot of clearance. It didn’t occur to us that Toyota makes two-wheel-drive 4Runners. Well, I learned that it is common to sell RWD versions in Texas. Basically, it was a 4Runner-shaped minivan, worse though, because it wasn’t front-wheel-drive. We figured this out a couple days into our trip, and didn’t feel like wasting our time on vacation to exchange the vehicle. The light snow wasn’t a big deal, but when the Google Maps directions took us on a dirt road over a mountain pass, I started to get the nervous sweats. “No problem,” I told Maria, “This thing has decent tires, and probably has a good posi-track in the rear”. Well, we made it fine, fishtailing up the dirt hills at 45mph on the dirt road in a 55 mph zone.
Surprising enough, when we hit Wyoming the “highway” we were on became paved. We drove into a pretty steady snowstorm right next to Yellowstone NP, and were enjoying watching the snowmobilers run along the side of the road. I had already experienced the lack of traction the “2Runner” offered in the snowstorm back in Silverthorne, CO, so I was glad to see the road was still free of ice and snow. The snow picked up as we hit the Hoback Ranches and had yet another mountain pass before Jackson. We made it into the Jackson Super 8 and parked for the night hoping it would only snow in the mountains and not on the roads.
Our friend Melanie met up with us to go skiing at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, and we had high energy as we parked in the HOV (high occupancy vehicle) parking lot at no charge, because we had 3 passengers. When I told my friends I was going to be skiing at JHMR I received a lot of texts about The Corbett’s Couloir, and the Kings and Queens of Corbett’s event. I watched the videos and decided if I were to drop into Corbett’s Couloir, I would want to have a much softer powder day. That run is crazy! In order to access it you have to make a leap of faith, about 15ft in icy conditions and 5ft in soft powder conditions, just to access the narrow chute. A very cool coincidence is that the Kings and Queens of Corbett’s happened on our second day there! We watched from the top of Tensleep Bowl, where a small crowd had formed to watch the Reb Bull sponsored event. There were no blue runs down from this view spot, only steep off-piste mogul-entrenched black diamond runs. It was clear some of the spectators were out of their comfort zone when descending, as they sat there at the top looking down with worried looks on their faces. The event was crazy! Basically anything sponsored by Red Bull is something I will not even consider competing in. I got a cool video of a skier doing some inverted aerials down the cliff infested couloir. And later in the day I painted from inside the Rendezvous Lodge while I had an afternoon beer. It was very windy out, so I was happy to be behind window glass. I could see the competition from the window and also on a TV monitor, sporting a 15-second delay. It was lucky I did the painting at that time, because the blue skies faded to whiteout conditions before I completed the painting. I was able to put Corbett’s Couloir in the painting, so I felt like this painting was a success! We had mixed snow conditions for the two days we were skiing JHMR. It was actually pretty great! A couple of inches of snow covered up some of the icy patches. Enough to make skiing a joy, but not enough to make me feel comfortable hucking cliffs.
The town of Jackson is cute and awesome! We went to two different breweries: Melvin Brewing, which started in the back of a Thai food establishment, and the Roadhouse. Both were quite good! The Super 8 was okay, and we were not too sad when we drove out of town towards Big Sky, MT. I was happy because I still had two days of skiing left and Big Sky has the largest skiable terrain of all the mountains we were visiting on the trip. I felt like I had ridden everything in JHMR I was going to, with the way the conditions had been. Very glad to not be injured, and stoked the trip was still underway! Our friend Melanie stayed and skied for a third day, and said she had a killer time on the mountain, and afterwards at the rough and tumble Million Dollar Cowboy Bar!
This painting is available at my Etsy shop. I’m selling it for the price of a lift ticket at Jackson Hole.