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Don Watkins


Don Watkins

In some way, shape or form, I try to make outside a part of my day.

It all started in Western Pennsylvania with my parents. Both avid snow and water skiers, I was fortunate to be on the mountain by the age of three and behind the boat soon thereafter.

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If it was winter and I wasn’t in school, chances were I was in the Laurel Highlands snowboarding or instructing at the local mountain. Summertime was similar, but school was replaced by working construction with my father and the mountains swapped with water.

Given my teenage track record of chasing morning glass and perfectly groomed corduroy – mind you Pennsylvania pow was few and far between – the University of Vermont (UVM) was perfect for the next chapter in my life. Lake Champlain to the West, Green Mountains to the East, and good academia of course. The best part was that many shared similar sentiments about being outdoors. UVM and Vermont gave me my first taste of rock climbing, winter camping, lake-side cliff jumping and backcountry (sidecountry) snowboarding. I was hooked. I finally got a full suspension mountain bike and a longboard that turned paved roads into rideable mountains (Note to self: pavement is harder than snow). UVM also gave me my first taste of the Tetons on January 2nd, 2004 when some of my best friends and I walked under the infamous antler arch entryway at Jackson Hole Airport on a ski and snowboard club trip we helped organize. And, well, that was that.

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After a few more winter break trips to Jackson Hole and boxes of ramen came graduation. Graduation meant road trip, and road trip meant back to Jackson for a winter, as well as more ramen. That was the fall of 2006, and to this day I feel lucky to still call Jackson home. Though today my schedule as a financial analyst is a little more demanding than my first Jackson ski-all-day bellman gig, getting outside is still a mandatory part of the routine, that and my diet is a bit more balanced thanks to my wonderful girlfriend. Early morning turns on Teton Pass, midday mountain bike rides in Cache Creek, and weekend water time on Jackson Lake are just a few of the things that soothe the soul and keep me smiling.