We plan to hit the ski lifts at Teton Village while we’re in Jackson, but we’re hoping for some new snow first. In the meantime, I head out with my dad and Sarah for another cross country outing, this time to Shadow Mountain. Once again we follow a forest road packed by snowmobiles, but this one is a little steeper. The slopes we climb face west, and the snow is a light powder of tiny ice crystals. There is nothing too steep, but it still looks promising for some nice turns on the way down. The views of the Grand Teton across the Snake River valley are mythically awesome.
We climb 1,500 feet in about four miles. There is no one around, on skis or snowmobiles, despite quite a few tracks. On the way up I pull ahead and take a test run, confirming that the powder is sweet and free of crust.
We reach the summit around 3:30 pm, a little late, but we anticipate a quick descent. I call Ann to let her know we’ll probably be late for dinner. It’s just barely warm enough for a quick lunch and a drink from half-frozen water bottles.
I start down with my board still split as touring skis. In the soft powder I find I’m able to make a few telemark turns on them. I laugh with glee. When our descent becomes more direct I stop and film Dad and Sarah taking a few glorious turns, then put the snowboard together and start down myself. I pick up a little speed, then sway effortlessly down the first stretch. A candy run. We regroup and follow the road down a ways, then hit another slope. Now the grade is just a touch too gentle for lots of turns, but it’s still nice riding. I walk ten yards back to the road as the sun disappears behind a hopeful-looking cloud bank that has swallowed the Tetons, then make it the rest of the way down without dismounting. This is a kind, kind backhill.
The last stretch back to the parking area is just right to try some kick-gliding on the touring skis. They’re not great, but I still make pretty quick work of the last half mile. Sarah gets the feel of it too, and stays close on my heels, sprinting past me to the parking lot. There are nothing but smiles all around as we pack up in the last light of the day.