Blame it on the Tetons
Memorial Day brought an opportunity for a classically enjoyable vacation in the form of a Google employee retreat in Teton Village, Wyoming. There would be relaxing in a spacious suite, big breakfasts, nice dinners, a wine tasting, a rodeo, and access to any number of luxuries that come with a resort destination. Attendees were encouraged to enjoy scenic floats on the Snake River or bus tours to Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks, but warned that late May is still the pre-season and outdoor opportunities would be limited.
I was feeling quite lousy, and sulked through Thursday's long breakfast followed by an afternoon wine tasting, where I drank bottles of water and struggled to hold down a light lunch of barley soup and salad. (If you're wondering how there's a winery in Jackson Hole — because I certainly was — it works because they grow their grapes in Sonoma County, California, and truck them into Wyoming for fermentation. Reportedly the high altitude and cool summers aid in this process.) Anyway, by mid-afternoon I was all relaxed out, so I angled for some fresh air and a short hike before dinner. Nothing too difficult — we could just walk up the ski hill, look out over the valley, and jog down.
"Windchill has got to be near single digits," I thought, and decided it was time to put on my jacket. The paper-thin material whipped wildly in the wind, and the fingers on my good hand were too stiff to open it up. Basically I'd become too chilled to put on my own coat, which was not a great coat to begin with. It's quite a dumb thing to do, and of course I knew this. At the same time, I knew enough to understand my body was uncomfortable but not dangerously cold, and that warming up would be quick the moment I turned around and sprinted down to sheltered elevations. So I stuffed the jacket in a pants pocket and continued marching up the hill in a T-shirt.
At Rendezvous Mountain, Beat and Liehann had ducked behind a closed tram station. Beat helped me put on my jacket, which was definitely better than a T-shirt but not great, and then we all pressed into the brunt of the wind for one more view of the snow-capped skyline beyond the summit. Running downhill, I managed to warm up quickly. After a half mile Beat graciously leant me his mittens to expedite the real screaming barfies feeling in my fingers (which is a lot worse than what I feel all the time. Lesson learned.)
We returned from what turned out to be a 14-mile, 4,200-feet-of-climbing outing just in time for dinner. My headache had finally abated, so I used up all of my bar tickets on glass after glass of Diet Pepsi.