Following up on my article on paddleboarding as a great activity for training ski and snowboard fitness and balance in the Spring issue of 32 Degrees, George Thomas and sat down a couple weeks ago to record another podcast for our Last Call edition of PSIA-AASI’s First Chair. Hope you enjoy it, let me know if there are things you want George and I to chat about in our next podcast!
After years of wanting to attend the Summer Outdoor Retailer show the timing worked out last fall. As usual, the road trip to Utah quickly turned into planning a bigger adventure, and by the time I left Vail the subbie was packed for a weekend of camping and paddleboarding in Wyoming with fellow AASI Snowboard National Team Member Eric Rolls.
With a couple of days of tradeshow exploration complete and a full tank of gas, we hit the road Friday afternoon and pulled in to Alpine a few hours later. After scouting around the National Forest Service dispersed camp sites we found a great spot by the river and set up our camp for the weekend.
Day 1 was a full day paddleboard float on the Snake River, starting in Grand Teton National Park from Deadman’s Bar down to the Moose Landing visitor center; the second time I’ve done this stretch. Grand Teton National Park is among my favorite of our national parks, one of the few that conjures the same grandeur and scale of Denali National Park (my backyard growing up). With every turn of the river the Tetons stand large, impressing themselves against the sky. I’m convinced it may be the most beautiful stretch of flatwater in the country.
With the boards inflated, board shorts on, and a few drybags of gear strapped down, we pushed into the current and began the 10 mile paddle. This part of the Snake is labeled Advanced but not because of rapids. The river braids extensively in this area, and downed trees create snags and strainers. The loose gravel bed shifts annually with snow, ice, and river flow, causing additional changes to the river. On a paddleboard, these changes are less of an issue, thanks to the portability and easy portage. Nonetheless, proper safety gear is important, and Eric and I both traveled with helmets, life jackets, and waist belt quick-release leashes.
Roughly halfway through we found the perfect gravel bar to grab some sun and eat lunch before continuing down the river. As we put back in, we found a little offshoot to river right and explored it, following it for a while before rejoining the main river. This is where we found a tree that had fallen across the river. It took a few tries, but I successfully stomped the first “hippy jump” I’ve seen on a paddleboard, jumping over the tree while the board traveled under. Further down the river we had to fully portage where a crafty beaver had closed off the river.
After rejoining the main river we quickly found ourselves at Moose Landing and hitched a ride back up to our car at Deadman’s before returning to camp. All in all, an awesome day on the river, and a great warmup for the next day.
Day 2 was the bigger adventure on the Alpine Canyon portion of the Snake, but that’s a story for another blog. Huge thanks to the companies like Big Agnes, Hala, Patagonia, Mountain Khakis, and Burton that help make trips like this awesome!
In the few short years since GoPro took over the Mountain Games at Vail, it’s transformed into one of my favorite events hosted in the Vail valley.
While we host all kinds of winter events in Vail, and the Burton US Open is one of the highlights of the year, the GoPro games manage to pull together a large and diverse group of athletes and fans that wouldn’t congregate in one place except for an event this big and eclectic. Honestly, the best part of this event isn’t any specific discipline (although SUP Cross was amazing to watch and I plan on entering next year), but the energy and excitement of the crowd and the collection of people.