The stars are out and cold air pricks our skin as we load my ski gear into Steve’s Nismo. It’s 2 a.m. and we’re making our usual alpine start, racing the sunrise to the top of a Teton peak. Just when others are putting their boards away for the season, Steve and I are full tilt into our springtime ritual of tackling descents we’ve been eying all winter, waiting for the snowpack to settle into its own seasonal freeze-thaw routine. As we pull away from my house, Steve mentions that he’s being tailed.

Sure enough, as we pass the Rec Center, a town police vehicle pulls in behind us. We make a right on North Cache and drive by the Log Cabin Saloon. Outside the late-night hotspot, bar patrons are scurrying and stumbling to the parking lot. We even dodge a few walking down the middle of the street. We start to relax, figuring the town officer is surely going to deal with these drunks before us.

But as we pass the Dairy Queen, red and blue lights started flashing in our rear view, and much to our chagrin we have to pull over, putting the brakes on our early morning momentum. The officer approaches and asks what we were doing out so late, shining her light in the back of the truck, illuminating two pairs of Atomic backcountry skis.

“Going skiing,” Steve says, his tone questioning why this isn’t self-evident.

“Isn’t it a little early to be going skiing?” she asks.

Never one to sugar coat, Steve quips, “No. Actually the more you ask us questions the more we’re gonna be late!” The officer softens, especially after seeing Steve’s military-issued car insurance. She wants to know who was in the service. “My dad, ‘Nam, ’66.”

So she lets us off with a warning about the bad taillight. Though it’s not how we wanted to start the day, the rest of our adventure goes off without a hitch as we escape into the mountains for our version of “last call.”