Wyoming bill would legalize hitchhiking

By Jim Stanford on November 26, 2012

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Thumbing it has long been a part of Western life.

In a move that will warm the hearts of Capt. Bob Morris and backcountry skiers, a state legislator from Teton County is working on a bill to legalize hitchhiking in Wyoming.

Sen. Leland Christensen, R-Alta, will seek to remove from the law a prohibition on soliciting rides, according to the News&Guide. The paper reported:

” ‘It’s a law on the books that doesn’t make sense, especially in these economic times,’ said Christensen, who remembers when his father used to hitch rides home when the family would visit his grandparents.”

Christensen’s view is reinforced by a recent New York Times op-ed, titled “Hitchhiking’s Time Has Come Again,” which argues that the dangers of soliciting rides have been overblown and even fabricated to dissuade people from the once-widespread practice.

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Posted under Crime, Environment, Politics, Republican Party, Wyoming Legislature

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ski stoke of yesteryear

By Jim Stanford on October 24, 2012

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Bunny hill rope tow on Snow King, circa 1950s.

The season’s first significant snowfall triggered the usual flurry of status updates and text messages. Undoubtedly, most in this ski-crazy community are excited for the coming winter. Another day or two of snow, and the race will be on to make first tracks.

Long before Teton Gravity Research premieres, the early ski pioneers in Jackson Hole were just as enthusiastic. They recorded the joy of winter’s arrival in journals slightly more poetic than today’s spraying.

While researching a story on historic winters for the upcoming Jackson Hole magazine, I came across a few of these accounts. Here’s an excerpt from Doris Platts’ book Wilson, Wyoming: Hoorah!, written by the late Virginia Huidekoper in her column “The Corral” for the Jackson’s Hole Courier on Nov. 15, 1945:

The skiing season was officially opened … by a mixed group of eager Idahoans and Wyomingites who gathered on Teton Pass and gave vent to pent-up desires which had accumulated during the dry months. Three feet of powdered satin on Telemark Hill gave semblance to a winter battlefield by evening. Criss-crossed and pock-marked, the slope was initiated in true fashion by weak-kneed christies and first-of-the-season egg beaters.

In spite of near-blizzard conditions, the initial ski outing was hailed as a good beginning to what looks like a long and promising winter.

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Posted under Sports, Weather, Wyoming

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Sandy Z dies while hiking on pass

By Jim Stanford on October 15, 2012

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Sandy Z at home on Fish Creek.

Authorities have identified the hiker who died yesterday on Mount Glory as Wilson resident A.A. Zvegintzov, better known by his nickname, Sandy Z.

Zvegintzov appears to have died of natural causes related to a medical condition, according to the News&Guide. He was 73 years old.

Sandy Z was a river guide, ski instructor, sailor and painter. He likely was one of the first to use the phrase “downward mobility,” explaining his move from a career in law to guiding on the Snake for Barker-Ewing in the 1980s.

He notched more than 11,000 miles as a boatman and more than 3 million vertical feet as a ski instructor at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. In recent years he focused on painting at his home studio on Fish Creek, accessed by the small wooden bridge behind Pearl Street Bagels.

His full name was Alexander Alexandrovich (Russian for Alex Jr.). A Philadelphia native, he moved to Jackson Hole in 1972. His tall, bony frame was hard to miss.

I wrote a profile of him for the JH News in 1999, after he returned from a four- year, solo sailing voyage around the Caribbean. “It was a fabulous adventure,” he told me. “Not many people on the face of the Earth are going to do that.”

(Photo by John Slaughter)


Posted under Art, Deaths, Sports

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new running, mountain bike races eyed for pass

By Jim Stanford on March 23, 2012

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Organizers are proposing 25- and 50-mile mountain bike races on Teton Pass.

Trail enthusiasts have proposed a two-day series of endurance races for mountain biking and running on Teton Pass. The events would utilize the new trails built in the Phillips Canyon area in recent years and would benefit Friends of Pathways, to help fund maintenance of the network.

The Bridger-Teton National Forest is considering the proposal. The races would be held on the weekend of Aug. 25-26, with a 25- and 50-mile mountain bike race Saturday and marathon and half-marathon run Sunday. Organizers plan to showcase the new trails built with a Wyoming Business Council grant.

“Any of you who have used the trails in the valley can agree that they have seen vast improvement in recent years, and we hope to establish this as an annual event to provide consistent funding for trail construction and maintenance through Friends of Pathways,” Chris Owen, one of the organizers, wrote in a letter to prospective supporters.

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Posted under Environment, Sports

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slide photo that went viral not from Teton Pass

By Jim Stanford on January 23, 2012

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Somewhere in Idaho, perhaps, but not Glory Bowl.

The photo of a massive pile of avalanche debris widely circulated this weekend turns out not to have been taken on Teton Pass.

Showing a plow’s width cut through a 20-foot-high wall of snow, the image served as a powerful dissuasion to skiing the backcountry, as well as a commendation to WyDOT staff on a job well done opening the highway.

The image was posted Saturday by Matthias Hans Joachim Richter, a pilot who lives at Devil’s Tower, according to his Facebook profile. He attributed the photo to the pass and advised, “Please be careful out there folks!”

By Sunday morning, the photo was everywhere, as friends shared it on their Facebook pages, inviting discussion and oohs and aahs from their circles. Victor, Idaho, residents were some of the first to share. Among those who reposted it were media figures such as Jackson Hole Radio, Mary Cernicek, Bridger-Teton National Forest spokeswoman, and Teton AT.

A true journalist, Sam Petri wanted to see for himself and perhaps post his own photo on Instagram. Petri phoned friend Tony Birkholz and said, “Let’s go admire this big pile of snow like a couple of rednecks.”

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Posted under Environment, Humor, Media, Sports

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