Re: Grand Targhee 3/12 So different, Targhee and JH. Hard to say which I liked more.

Skied 1 day plus one run at GT; 4 days at the much closer JH.

S afternoon at GT
M afternoon at JH
T afternoon, very warm, at JH
W one single run, freezing rain and big wind, at GT
T afternoon, warm at JH
F afternoon, warm at JH

If distances had been equal I would have done closer to half and half. Probably.

What I don’t know is how much different conditions affect the two places. My first day at GT, I had what in retrospect turned out to be beautiful groomed conditions. It’s a special place, hauntingly beautiful, intriguing trail layout (reminded me of a gigantic Sutton) and tons of solitude. I spent my time on the Dreamcatcher and Blackfoot lifts, skier’s right.
My return day, Wednesday, the Jackson town forecast was for rain, so I guessed maybe it’d be a bit cooler at GT. (While the peaks are similar altitude, GT’s base is higher than JH’s.) Be careful what you wish for. There was indeed no rain at GT that afternoon. Instead, fierce, wind-blown graupel that stung the face, turned visibility to about 2 yards, and rendered the trails hard as stone. At least at the higher elevations. Unfamiliar with the trails, and unable to see where the traverses dropped off, I was hating it.  The lower half of the mountain skied nicely, but the lifts all take you to the peak. I left, got a free voucher for a return day this season (guest services said, “If you can see, it ain’t da ‘ghee.”), and gave it to a very grateful local hitchhiker.

JH is a big, sprawling, bustling, Kmart type of place. Its size and steepness is awesome. It has no sense of mystery. You are never anything close to alone. I remember once reading on the list how you can find tree shots at western areas untouched because no one bothers with them. With each of my four days at JH, I concentrated more and more on those, mainly on the slow, slow Marmot double, plus some on the Thunder and Sublette chairs, and from all of those chairs onto their southfacing slopes. There were open woods, steep by my standards, directly under the lifts—you could scout them on the way up—and I found excellent snow there. (JH actually has signs for where they keep the good snow; they read, “Caution.”)   
So there I was, threading my way through barely skied woods (one stretch reminded me of the first open area on MRG’s 20th), and never once out of sight of the crowds. It’s a fun place, but not soulful. And everything costs. (You can sneeze for free. That’s about it.)
Conditions were warm, snow was soft. Fixed-heel skiers were complaining it was too heavy; I was loving it.

Which do I prefer? On the plane back, I sat next to  a woman who spends a week at GT every year and I gotta admit, that sounded pretty good. But I loved having the fine food markets in Jackson, Wyoming, and ate well in my condo at night (Herb-Marinated Peppers and Tuna; Baked Rigatoni with Spinach, Ricotta and Fontina; Orecchiette with Sausage and Arugula; Baked Shells with Pesto, Mozzarella, and Meat Sauce; Sauteed Mushrooms With Shallots and Garlic; Pasta with Tuna, Walnuts, Lemon, and Herbs; yum). Driggs, Idaho looked pretty spartan in comparison. If I went back (unlikely; this was an amazing opportunity; thanks, kind lister), I’d probably split time again between the two, more evenly than I did on this trip.   

Thanks laSH and Ranger, for encouraging me to visit GT. So glad I did. And thanks to the many listers who offered tips and advice. Trip worked out well.


On 3/21/17, 4:05 PM, "Sharon Heller" <[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]> wrote:

I know GT and JH are very different places. I'm just wondering if you had a preference now that you've skied both.

On Mon, Mar 13, 2017 at 7:43 AM, telenaut <[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]> wrote:
That about sums it up.

And, for the more patient readers, the blather report:
The powder day was last week. The soft, fresh, sunny day was the day before. Looks yesterday were deceiving. The ungroomed looked sweet and inviting. I made it my first run, and it was a mistake I wouldn’t make more than just a couple times more. Various descriptions, my own and others’, of the tempting, fresh-looking ungroomed spaces were: death cookie crumbs, hard boiled mashed potatoes, and, from a laconic local, “some tough crud.”  

The groomed was a bit hard to judge from the chairlift. The surface was so uniform it looked like it could be porcelain. Certainly not corduroy. Instead it was something unfamiliar to me. There was a micro-thin layer of loose powder on top of a solid, hard base that had just the tiniest little bit of give at its very top. Maybe it’s more a western thing? In any case, it was a blast watching the western, 3-turns-down-the-mountain skiers put the pedal to whatever this surface was and just fly. Casual as all getout.

Me, I did my silly little eastern turn, turn, turns, and had a blast at that, too. This unfamiliar surface—some called it icy, but not by my standards—would never let you down. No matter how slick it looked, you could always get an edge. There were no “surprises.” And that made for some hypnotic skiing.

The other thing about Grand Targhee... laSH called it “fun everywhere”; Iski called it “flat”... it’s both. (In fairness, there were many double-blacks I never went near.) But the trails are well designed and even the easiest of them had fun and surprising dips and twists and turns. I spent the day wandering from north to south and plucking up any steep blue groomer I saw along the way. (Most of the trails were steep blue groomers.) They each skied like a dream.

I’d get into tele rhythm and yoga mind and just turn, turn, turn for seeming ever. The scale of the place was baffling. Distant objects took forever to reach, as there was just so much open empty space in between, and the time it took to take in all that open empty space was time out of time. Trancelike. On the other side of the same coin, big as the distances were, I skied no-stop runs that I couldn’t imagine skiing back east. (“Stop? Why would I ever want to stop?”)

Brought to mind Roger’s “This IS my church” line. Neither church nor temple—and I attended both, briefly—has ever been important in my life, so the thread didn’t exactly resonate with me. But skiing solo, dipping in and out all day into ski yoga meditation, on the chairlifts, too, it was a deeply spiritual, and fun day.

(OK, fun four hours. Skied 10:30 – 2:30 and decided to save what was left of my jellied spine, legs and toes for the next day, now today, which will be JH.)

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