The Wasatch has some unique characters, some of which have been earning turns for over 3,000 years... ok, slight exaggeration. One of these colorful guys has been dubbed "Farmer John" due to his highly developed, unique style of earning 'em. I've seen Farmer John's work over the years, and I've always admired the way he treats snow as a blank canvas for his art.
Here's a photo from last season as I stumbled into some of his acreage-
John always starts laying down tracks on S facing first (this aspect always goes to shit the quickest), and then works the compass W, E, and saves N facing for last since that aspect maintains snow quality the longest. But for John, skiing in the Wasatch means he's always dealing with other tourers coming through, and tracking up all his work.
Two years ago my touring partner and I dropped a shot that opened into a clearing where Farmer John had started harvesting turns. He was yelling at some other tourers who where passing through his work, and frustrated, he started yelling at us. I figured he was pretty much an asshole, so I purposely trashed the rest of his untracked bowl by making huge turns through the rest of his untracked field!
This past Sunday I headed up solo on a long mellow skin to an area that was low avy hazard just for some exercise, and a chance to get up at altitude and enjoy the sunshine and arctic temps. And, you guessed it, Farmer John was there working on this season's crop.
Since getting an earful two years ago from him, I had some time to admire his art, and while skinning past his work I often reflected on what he had going on. I developed a respect for this guy who always ventured solo, this old guy who had such a unique signature that his turns were instantly recognizable in an area as populated as the Wasatch bc.
He said nothing to me as I came within ten feet of him at the bottom of his shot. I said nothing either, but I started skinning up through a mess of tracks that others had layed the day previous which shared a common runout with Farmer John's patch. I had never tried to spoon tracks before, as I'm usually with skiers and my natural turns are much larger. I figured this would be a good opportunity to give it a go. I was also a bit surprised that John hadn't started yelling at me yet, and I know he has a lot of animosity for the fast growing splitters who are just another group that he has to compete with for freshies.
Once I gained the ridge, I quickly transitioned and dropped my low angle shot and purposely ended at the bottom of his shot, but still respecting his personal crop. He was at the bottom and had been watching me transition, watched me drop my shot, and started laughing as I pulled up next to him. He said "That looks like fun!". I laughed too, and I immediately started transitioning again for the up. He was still watching me, judging me, checking out this "split" contraption. I skinned up again, spooned my turns Farmer John style, and made three consecutive laps.
Each time at the bottom, we chatted more and more, quickly becoming friends. I had respected his tracks, flattered him by imitating his art, and hoped that he would end the day with a more open mind about these "new fangled splitboarders". Yes, you can easily bag on him by laughing at spooning turns on a 100 ft vert shot, or the low angles he prefers, his age, his clothes, whatever... But I prefer to learn from any of these guys that have been earning turns for as long as I've been alive. He explained to me that many of his partners over the years have passed away- I just hope when I'm his age that I can be getting after it like he is. Maybe there's someone like Farmer John in your bc? Keep an open mind out there, and if you've got any of these older bro's, try and learn what you can from them- there's really a lot of wisdom behind the tracks of someone who's been plying their trade for years.
God bless you Farmer John, and I hope you've got many more years of harvesting ripe pow
Joined: Sat Dec 30, 2006 12:25 pm Posts: 112 Location: Madison Range, MT
I believe know this man's tracks from spending two winters in silver fork in big cottonwood, if i remember correctly he prefers big cottonwood and the usa bowl area when the aspect is right. These shots look very similar to that area if I'm not mistaken, but then again a lot of terrain up in big c looks like your photos.
Great story, brings back excellent memories. Silver Fork Canyon...... mmmmmmm.
Joined: Sun Apr 02, 2006 4:39 pm Posts: 339 Location: Ft. Collins, CO
He must have some crazy discipline. I could never just spoon the same ol Left,right turns over and over. Why not use the whole playground as your canvas! But,it does conserve the powder and makes for an interesting photo. Ka-nee-chee-wa,bitches!!
Joined: Mon Dec 26, 2005 8:31 pm Posts: 90 Location: Salt Lake
That's a great TR DJ, there is a lot of those ole boys out there we can all learn a lot from . Speaking of which your getting up there too we should get out, I've soloed almost every time out some comany would be great !
_________________ If your life sucks it is because you suck!
Hainey is quite a character. If you really want to get him riled up next time you see him, ask him what he thinks of the slurry seal that gets put down on the roads around here. If you thought he was upset at people messing up his farming, just let him start on about slurry seal.
If one of the lurkers on here who doesn't post, would come out of the woodwork, I'm sure he could tell more stories about Hainey. He has been on the splitter with Hainey many times.
The other thing that Hainey really hates, is when the groomers make a nice path for the snowboarders to get out of the 9990 area at The Canyons. He likes it left deep so many of the snowboarders get trapped in the flats in deep snow and have to walk out.
Thanks for the write up on him.