A short time ago I was presented with a quaint, although very endearing, little trophy at an award ceremony to be named later with the title, “Reverse Pilgrimage Award.” This was awarded to me due to my recent – although in real-time, not that recent – departure from the Mountain West back to the Atlantic East from whence I came. This decision was not come to lightly and was predicated on many factors, probably the most apparent being removal from the, “Aww, totally bro!” lifestyle, which is sweet but has certain, um, “consequences” that I won’t go into here. The delicate art of extricating yourself from a mountain town (especially one like Jackson, WY) includes good-byes, promises to return/never return, PO box key turn in, removal from various freelance/seasonal job/theme party phone trees and packing the car.
This last part, for me, was one of the more challenging things I’ve done in my life, up to now, and something I’ll probably never be able to repeat. That is, I fit my entire life and all my worldly possessions into my Subaru wagon (the small one, not the big one). It was like the Tetris of gear cramming all my junk into and on top of this small automobile. Although I did jettison a few big-ticket items, including a dearly beloved deep fryer – unsafe at any speed – and a pair of my oldest and dearest snowboard boots, my quiver of stuff remained mostly intact. Inside went all the soft goods, a pair of floor speakers and an assortment of knickknacks accumulated over 4 years in an isolated ski town in the middle of nowhere. Attached to the outside of the whip is where the money was made. Two bikes on a caboose rack, 3 snowboards and a pair of powder skies on the top rack, waterproof duffle locked down with a bungeed set of golf clubs wrapped in trash bags. Boom. Travelers of the Oregon Trail could not have pulled off this pack job, and the whole thing stayed put for the entire 2,000 miles.
This traveling gypsy skid circus eventually made it, but upon arriving back in my new/old hometown I had to laugh at the gear I pulled out; stuff that I will probably never have a use for again, barring a nuclear apocalypse or extreme mid-life crisis, although I wouldn’t rule either out. Waterproof down jacket that made me sweat even when it was -20F on the hill? Four pairs of insulated leather gloves? Grand Teton National Park trail map? Five boxes of Western trout flies? Jackson Hole Mountain Resort issued fleece? Oops, was probably supposed to return that. Anyway, you get the picture. I could have tried to unload these things before leaving, or simply handed them to random strangers along the way. This did cross my mind several times, but something kept me from it. Sure, I could take a vacation ($!), and nostalgia is certainly a big part. Every time I look at my Option board from the 2006-2007 season I’ll remember the guy hooking up a 40 percent discount because I promised him a twelver of PBR (60 percent gets you a case) and a muffin, or the last big huck on No Name the year there was so much snow they closed the resort for days at a time. Good times and strong feelings for sure, but not the whole story.