Doing Time in the Hole

When people ask me about my trip to Jackson Hole, my reply is always the same:

“The trip was ah-MAZE-ing. That is…until we tried to come home.”

I’ve wanted to tell you about it for a few weeks now…honestly, I have. Yet when Iowa’s first major snow storm had me breaking out in cold sweats, updating hourly forecasts on my phone, and logging into Live ATC on my laptop (kidding…kind of)…I knew that I just wasn’t ready. However, the sun has once again returned and the snow has all but melted away as our unseasonably warm winter continues its slow march towards spring. So, I think it’s finally time to share about my travels…before I likely forget everything awesome that happened.

The first few days started off as expected: typical airport and flight experience {minus a harrowing decent into the Jackson Hole valley in which our wing tips practically grazed the side of Grand Teton herself before landing beside them…}

…slope side “condo” check in on Saturday …

…and hitting the mountain on Sunday.

Despite a general lack of fresh snow by Jackson Hole standards (oh, the irony), the mountain was experience was breathtaking…literally. Not only was the surrounding scenery incredible, but the resort is known for its abundance of expert terrain, which left me gassed and gasping for air each time I finished a run.

It was honestly some of the most difficult I’ve ever skied, and the intermediate “blue” slopes were more challenging than most expert “diamond” runs I’ve experienced elsewhere.  As for the black diamond runs at Jackson Hole, well…they were just flat out punishing.

After meandering the shops and streets of Jackson Sunday night,

…Monday offered a once in a lifetime opportunity: snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park. It takes a lot for me to give up an entire day on the slopes…but I could not pass up the prospect of a guided tour on a snowmobile through some of our nations’ most beautiful landscapes.

Our group opted to forgo Old Faithful (and the crowds that it attracted) to instead head 60 miles into the park the other direction to see the mud volcanoes, sulfur springs, other hidden gems, and finally…the “Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.”

As you can tell…it did not disappoint! I also took a few random videos inside the park and spliced the clips together for your enjoyment:

Tuesday I returned to the slopes, even making it up to the top of the infamous Rendezvous Bowl via “Big Red”…

…but called it a day early to sip coffee in the lodge and hit up the village for some souvenir shopping. By this point my legs had turned to rubber anyway; if you couldn’t tell already, it was a very unforgiving mountain.

After a nice meal back in Jackson, I packed my suitcase, and turned in…anxiously ready to get back to Iowa and see the family. Wednesday we awoke, drove to the airport, experience no delays, and arrived home safe and sound by supper time.

The end!

…is what I wish I could tell you, but as most of you know…isn’t what really happened.

We woke up Wednesday morning to snow…lots, and lots…of snow.

The blizzard we had been hearing about since our arrival was finally upon us. By the time we showed up at the airport mid-day Wednesday, there was less than 0.5 miles of visibility.

After two attempted landings, the plane that was due to take us back to Denver diverted, leaving us virtually stuck in Jackson for the night. The next 48 hours was a blur of packing, unpacking, check in and checking out…luckily we were able to re-reserve two of the four condos our group had rented for the week. We managed to cram in, but needless to say…the whole ordeal quickly became both completely frustrating and utterly exhausting.

Thursday’s conditions were no better than Wednesday, yet fortunately for us they cancelled all flights early enough for a few of us to hit the slopes once again for some actual powder skiing (a first for me!).

Despite a light snow on Friday morning, all signs pointed towards an actual departure. Yet when our flight was further delayed, even the most faithful of the group began to search for alternate routes home…even if it meant hitch-hiking.

But when the clouds parted and our plane finally landed…

…it was once of the most relieving sights on earth. All of us, despite being in one of the most beautiful places in the country, just wanted to get home. It’s not that we weren’t thankful to be there, but being stuck in limbo between vacation, travel, and work had really started to take it’s toll.

Plus, all I really wanted to do was get home to my four special ladies after not seeing them for an entire week!

But by 7:00 Friday night, I finally did arrive safe and sound at Des Moines International…and a full-speed running hug from Rowan and kisses from Sienna, Jovie, and Missy made all my cares and frustrations fade away.

It was definitely a trip for the ages…and the last time I’ll be going anywhere from November-April on an airplane any time soon 😉

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About Tom Hardinge

Loving husband to my wife Missy, loving father to my four daughters Sienna, Rowan, Jovie, and Lola. I'm a chronic over-packer who loves good coffee, good music, running, waffle tee's, fleece pants, and Jesus Christ!

5 thoughts on “Doing Time in the Hole

  1. Love JH! I recognize a few of those views from our trip a couple summers back. Would love to see it in the winter…as long as I could leave when I was ready 🙂

  2. Pingback: Monday Musings | living in pursuit

  3. Pingback: Home. | living in pursuit

  4. Pingback: Powder Days | living in pursuit

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