CULTURE KLASH: Your Weekend of Zen

By on May 17, 2017

Get out, get going this weekend with obstacle courses, backcountry beta and a film fest.

JACKSON HOLE, WY – The objective of the sixth annual Ultimate Towner is similar to years past: “to engage the community in a celebration of overcoming obstacles,” said Grand Dynamics International president Tim Walther. This year’s weekend-long event, however, introduces a new program: on race eve, competitors and community members have the chance to gather in Grand View Lodge (up the hill from Snow King) to hear a series of inspirational speakers share stories of overcoming their own obstacles.

“That’s the one universal thing every human being has,” Walther said. “We all have our own stories, our own challenges.” He hopes the evening programming will help inspire racers and the public to evaluate obstacles in other areas of their lives. “The idea is that through these [presentations], towners will be inspired to have a different perspective on life,” he said.

The course itself also offers a series of lessons on overcoming obstacles—literally. From uphill climbs on Snow King to mud crawls to rope swings, each portion of the course presents a new challenge. It is difficult enough, Walther said, to “challenge anyone,” but also “just doable enough that lots of people can do it.” Last year, Teton Adaptive Sports athlete Odie Pierce completed the course in a wheelchair.

The course may be physically challenging, but Walther says the biggest barrier in any obstacle is often mental. “The first obstacle people often have is a perception of limited belief,” he said. In this case, people thinking they’re not strong enough, or fit enough. But such challenges, Walther says, are 90 percent mental. Proof? A simple affirmation of “I have the capacity to do something like this,” he said, is enough to carry you through the course.

The weekend kicks off with packet pickup and the speaker series 4 p.m., Friday, May 19 at Grand View Lodge. The race is noon Sunday, May 21, and begins with a warm-up flash mob, where racers will follow along to a dance routine choreographed by Dancers’ Workshop. On site registration begins at 10 a.m. Proceeds will benefit Teton Adaptive Sports. Registration is $89; $29 for children and seniors.

Savvy backcountry enthusiasts unite

Tired of hearing, “If you don’t know, don’t go?” Backcountry Zero wants you to know—and they’ll teach you this weekend.

Saturday’s second annual Wyoming Backcountry Adventure Workshop offers a series of educational sessions for five different sport tracks: biking, hiking, climbing/mountaineering, water sports, and paragliding. Each “track” includes three distinct classes: “What’s in Your Pack,” first aid specific to that sport, and a “distinct and unique” sport-related session. The water sport track, for example, includes a class on pack rafting and river stand up paddleboarding.

“It’s a chance to get exposed to something a little bit new,” said Amy Golightly, associate director of the Teton County Search and Rescue Foundation.

Golightly says backcountry education is especially important in the beginning of a season, when an influx of new people come into town who don’t have backcountry experience. It’s also important for seasoned athletes to refresh their knowledge, she said, so they can be sharp and prepared should it become necessary to use it.

“I’ve been here for 20 years, and every time I learn something new,” Golightly said.

The evening concludes with a keynote presentation by Laurence Gonzales, author of the book Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why. While the workshops teach “hard skills and practical things,” Golightly said, Gonzales’ talk will address the psychological factors that go into survival in the backcountry. In emergency situations, Golightly said the instinct is often to panic—but that’s a dangerous way to react.

“Prepared, Practiced and Present” are Backcountry Zero’s three pillars for safe and successful backcountry travel, and “present is one of the biggest parts of all,” Golightly said. “Having a communicating plan, being willing to turn around … all the mental things that go into it,” are as vital to a trip’s success as a person’s technical knowledge in the outdoors.

The workshop is 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, May 20 at The Lodge at Jackson Hole Conference Center. Registration is $30, and includes a swag bag, dinner, beer and a ticket to the keynote address. Tickets for the keynote address only are $25.

Paddle for reel

The Reel Paddling Film Festival celebrates all kinds of paddle sports: from white water kayaking to pack rafting to stand up paddleboarding. “Pretty much anything that has a river as a focus, is what we’re showing,” said Jackson Hole Kayak Club director Rainer Kelly,

JH Kayak Club and Snake River Fund are co-hosting the festival to raise money for youth paddling and river stewardship and conservation. The two nonprofits will split the proceeds for the evening, but the event is more than just a fundraiser, Kelly said. “It’s a kick-off to paddling season for the whole community.”

While paddling is the common thread, the films are really a celebration of adventure in any form. “The outdoors is a means to tell a story,” Kelly explained. While some films will be “action packed,” the films are really about “showcasing the people, the adventure. … Even people who aren’t river people can still get something out of these movies, and still really enjoy them.” PJH

The action begins 7 p.m. Friday, May 19 at Pink Garter Theater. $10 tickets; $5 for kids. Buy them at Rendezvous River Sports or PinkGarterTheater.com.

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