The Headwall

Circa 1999, I was first introduced to real skiing, aka out West. I was able to visit family in Jackson (Hole), WY and got to meet real snow, powder, elevation and steepness. Never did I go back to the East Coast.


The next year I visited Sun Valley, darn. The following year I went back to Jackson Hole…it’s all about who you know with the free lodging. I had learned a bit more about how to ski out there, so one of my hosts figured I needed to explore some more…the Headwall. This is something I’ll never forget. And now I go to current times and to the past.

The Headwall is a run at Jackson Hole that you must climb to. You take a lift — Sublette, to be exact. That’s after you make your way over there from the base. Then you take a run to above Cirque (bowl). You work to keep as much speed as possible so you can keep your skis on as…long…as…possible. Then, unclip and get ready.


Going to the past. The first time I did the Headwall my host was far too kind. He carried my skis for me. All I had to worry about were his poles and mine. After that, I could take care of everything on my own.

The path to the top is usually pretty well packed (snow-wise), but it’s also pretty steep. As I write this post I am recounting my most recent trip on the Headwall, which was January 2020. I finally turned on my Garmin to track how long of a ‘hike’ this is; 0.3 miles. And, actually, I don’t think I had a Garmin the previous times I had gone, except maybe once and it likely just didn’t occur to me to track it.


January 2020 might have been my 6th or so time taking this grand adventure. Each time, you think you’re going to be cold. Each time, I had stopped to de-layer, several times, multiple layers. You can also stop to take in the beautiful scenery and/or use it as an excuse to take a break.

This past time I’d had to ask as quick reference while skiing an hour prior how long it took to hike the Headwall because of a lunch meeting and somebody told me 45 minutes. Each person is different. It took me 14:10 (thanks Garmin and Strava).

Got to the top and don’t think I’d ever truly appreciated what all you see at the top. I just did a slow 360 several times. With the sun shining down on you, mountains around you, the town at a distance, what more could you ask for? The only thing would be checking out that snow that had been falling for the 5 days prior and really absorbing the run you’re about to take. After I decided to stop admiring nature standing still, I put on my skis. Note, putting on skis in deep powder, so not fun even on a flat surface, but you know what’s to come is good.

Got myself over to the Headwall (slope), picked a line on which to start skiing and off I went. With the snow that had fallen the past few days, it was crazy. This slope is steep. It’s (just) a black (diamond). As in not a double black. But you needed to really work that day. The snow was knee deep; knee deep powder. It was amazing perfection. It was tough to ski in, but in a really good way. It’s not something I want to ski on every run; I like groomers. I had to think about turns, and if you fall you fall into POOF. I happened to stop and talk to a guy who lives right here in Fort Collins. It was his first time skiing the Headwall, and at Jackson Hole. He has no idea why he has summited this thing!

I think it probably took me 3-5 minutes to get down this run. I thought about each turn, worried about my legs (aka injury) sometimes, loved the snow each and every second, and valued what Jackson Hole offers me as a skiing venue. Then you stop, you’re at mid-mountain. You’re done. Ok, what’s next. All I could think about is going having to go to lunch…or do I have time to ski it again? Until next time, Headwall.


Pîste Mountain Bistro, Jackson Hole, WY

Earlier this year when in WY, dined at a nice restaurant in/at Jackson Hole, Pîste Mountain Bistro.


You take the gondola to the restaurant so you’re at mid-mountain. Beautiful view. The pictures are from the base area so you can see the Tetons.


Service was a bit slow, but we eventually did get our waiter. We ordered a bottle of French wine that was absolutely fabulous. I say this because old world wine is the last kind I reach for. It was Les Champauvins, Alain Jaume & Fils, Domaine Grand Veneur, Cotes Du Rhone. Have to look for this in stores.


Food wise, went for a couple small dishes.

Locavore Salad — Inspired by Local Farmer’s Markets.

The salad was a good size to split. Good vegetable mix included and nice and light on the dressing – the lettuce wasn’t gasping for air!


Grilled Spanish Octopus — Broccoli verde, Romanesco, cauliflower, radish, sorrel, sea beans

I love octopus, parallels the love of Brussels Sprouts. As soon as I saw this on the menu, my decision was made. WOW, wow. Crisp, perfect texture and nice size portion (was from appetizers). This could not have been cooked more perfectly. Amazingly grilled, magical to bite into. The sauce that was on the plate had a bit of spice, with just enough kick to catch your attention, but didn’t overpower the octopus. I could eat this every night.


A couple others at the table ordered the Beef Tartare SmØrrebrØd — Boquerones, cured egg old, onion aioli, radio, parmigiano, cress

Apparently it was delicious, and another dish that was the perfect size. There really is beef underneath all the stuff on the bread.



Other than under par service, a nice night, from food to view, with a free gondola ride.






Devils Tower

The Devil went up to Wyoming, not down to Georgia…

Continuing on my trip in South Dakota, had some time to kill. Devils Tower is an hour+ from Deadwood, SD (love the 80mph speed limit!).  So it’s another landmark to visit while in the general vicinity.


Drove out there and after getting off the interstate, the general landscape is just breathtaking – reminds me why I left the East Coast for good, I love it out West. We were on this road for about half an hour. I kept pulling over to take pictures of the tower and surroundings. Of course, I would be right at the base before I knew it. Pulled up to the entry gate and love having a National Park Pass – ‘free’ entry!

Wasn’t too busy as I got there around 5:30pm. And, since this was in the summer, the sun wasn’t setting for several hours. There is a footpath around the base of the tower and staring at it is breathtaking. Devils Tower is 867 feet tall. It stands 1,267 feet above the Belle Fourche River and is 5,112 feet above sea level (thanks for the state NPS!). I kept wondering if any pieces of rock might fall while taking the stroll.

Some little tidbits about this magnificent location:

  • The name Devils Tower originated in 1875 during an expedition led by Colonel Richard Irving Dodge, when his interpreter reportedly misinterpreted a native name to mean “Bad God’s Tower”.
  • The movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind used Devils Tower during the shooting.
  • The magma which formed Devils Tower cooled and crystallized into a rock type known as phonolite porphyry. It is a light to dark-gray or greenish-gray igneous rock with conspicuous crystals of white feldspar.

And you can find more random stuff on Wikipedia (some of the above isn’t from there).

I have a cousin who is a rock climber and her husband is a hard core climber. I asked them about Devils Tower, and they have both climbed it. Dang! That thing is sheer vertical drop. I admire them and all climbers.

And more great pictures…

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An amazing sight to see if you’re in the SD/WY area. Note: Devils Towers is in the Eastern Edge of WY, it’s not in SD.

WY, oh, WY

Simple highlights from a trip to Wyoming earlier this year. From cowboy, bars, or cowboy bars, to moose, mountains and beautiful scenery. This was when there were fires in MT, ID and elsewhere, around Labor Day and some of these picture don’t capture what exactly the sky looked like (in a bad sense). Some days it was opaque, others it was hazy. Regardless, love this state, summer or winter.


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Finally got to visit Yellowstone National Park when I was in Wyoming this year. The size of it is just amazing, so much to explore. The trip was primarily driving, with a few stops along the way.

Was able to take in Old Faithful. We had about half hour to wait before seeing it, which meant we were able to snag front row seats. It was such a beautiful day outside that waiting was not a problem. As the geyser started to erupt, it took some time before the tallest one came about, then it lived up to expectations.



Lunch was enjoyed at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge Geyser Grill, after watching Old Faithful. Enjoyed a Smoked Bison Bratwurst Sandwich and local brew.

Throughout the rest of the park (and before seeing Old Faithful), we soaked in so many sights. Pictures barely do them justice:

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Shortly before leaving the park, we saw wildlife! I was not zooming in on the bison, and I was ‘far’ away, still in the car. Some crazy people were literally at arm’s length from the animal and almost looked to be petting him.




As the day wrapped up, we left the park in Montana. To get back to Jackson, had to go back through Idaho, so a nice 3-state day. Loved the Yellowstone trip!


This thing they call a Rodeo

Finally got to see a Rodeo. Garth Brooks came to mind with two of his songs when I walked towards the event — both Rodeo and Beaches of Cheyenne, since I was in (Jackson,) WY watching all this take place.


The cowboy boots were set by those attending, I just didn’t happen to have my hat with me.


Had never seen all the ins and out of this great event, from hearing the announcer, the amazing country music, the cowboys and the animals.


Great night in Jackson, will definitely check out another one, either there or where I happen to find another when in town.

Teton Thai

Was in Jackson Hole, WY earlier this year and got to check out a couple places. The first was Teton Thai, which is right at the base of the mountain.


With the beautiful weather and scenery…


had to kick off the meal with a refreshing brew. Opted for the Hoback Hefe(weizen) by Snake River Brewing Company. Perfect for a warm summer day. While a hefe, not overkill on the wheat, hint of banana and just refreshing.


There was a lots of good stuff to pick from on the menu, which made it tough. I finally narrowed it down to the YUM WOON SEN $14. Glassy noodles, chopped chicken & shrimp, tomato, red onions with cilantro, lime & chili dressing. I asked for the dressing on the side because it was apparently hot.

This salad was perfect. Light, fresh and just delicious. So many flavors came together. Could eat something like this everyday. And, enjoying it while sitting outside and taking in the scenery made it even better.