The skatepark in Hailey, Idaho was finished in late Summer of 2002. Steve and I had planned to hit the park sometime after that, but we just couldn't swing it. Then when the snow season got a real late start, we planned a Thanksgiving weekend trip. However, a week before the trip, it snowed. And from that time on, I understand the deep end had 4 to 6 feet of snow lodged in it's cavernous belly.

So, I figured we'd just have to wait for spring. I looked on the calendar, and spring break seemed like the perfect opportunity. I planned a three day weekend, and invited anyone and everyone for the trip. However, a 10 hour drive (or a 2 hour 300 dollars round trip flight. The airport is right across the street, literally!) was a bit daunting for the weak. Steve wanted to go, but had previous obligations (school, "Dang!"). Todd said he wanted to go, and so we started planning the trip to Hailey. I'm the type of guy who likes to have reservations weeks in advance, Todd, he's game for the adventure. Just go, and find a place to camp, no problem! So, I get on the net and find out that most all the camping sites are closed until May or June. There was one, that was on road FR 22, just north of Sun valley, that appeared to be open (But they don't take reservations). So, I figured we'd sleep there. If I could find it (I've never tried to find a particular Forest Road before, can you say "adventure"?).

The night before we were supposed to leave, the weather didn't look to good in Hailey (I've noticed that skaters are some of the best weather forecasters). And Andy (Hailey local) even thought that it might snow over the weekend we were coming. Well, I didn't care. It was time to go ride the pipe at Hailey at any cost! HAILEY OR BUST!

Friday April 18th 2003:

I like to leave early. For me the earlier the better. Todd was a trooper, he said he didn't mind leaving at 4:30 AM. So, I picked him and his faithful dog Maria (Or "Mer") up at that ungodly hour. And we were off. Now, if it wasn't for Todd, I wouldn't have made this trip. There's no way I wanted to go all by myself. So, thanks to Todd for putting up with me, and the 10-12 hour drives, and he was a great co-pilot! He would often hear me say, "what road was that again?" So anyway, we left around 4:30 AM. Around 6 AM we got some breakfast in Ellensburg, then around 11 AM we stopped to check out the Hot Lakes Hotel Pool in La Grande, Oregon

It's an abandoned hotel, and is for sale for a cool 300 grand. Well, I had heard that the pool was empty, and we went to see if it was skateable. When we arrived, the odometer on my van turned over, 200,000 miles on it now, thank you! The place is huge and eerie. It was built around the early 1900's and the pool looks like it wasn't built to long after that. It's old and doesn't look like it has any tranny. Truly square. But, it was hard to see through all the murky water. Not only that, the pool is easily seen from the Hwy, so it looks like it'd be a bust. But, it was fun to check it out all the same. Next stop Hailey, ID.

We rolled into Hailey about 5 PM, and there's only one road through Hailey, and the skatepark is on the main road. So, you can't miss the park. The first thing you see is the top of this huge full pipe sticking up out of the ground. As we drove by the first time, we couldn't take our eyes off the pipe! We had arrived! We had made it to Hailey, and there she was, a huge 16 foot diameter full pipe, built solely for skateboarders!

We pull up and everyone is standing around looking at us. Todd and I are like kids in a candy store, we hop out and check out the park, it's deep, it's huge, it's big, with a full pipe to boot. But, it's all wet. I was told that it had just snowed minutes before, and hard. Which we completely understood because as we drove closer and closer to Hailey, the closer we got to this huge collection of dark stormy looking rain/snow clouds. Our whole trip had been clear and dry, so we were pretty confident that Hailey was a go. But, as we turned north, under those dark clouds, they seemed to move away (Tarpman was scaring the clouds away!!). And we had no rain in site, it was a full go (I wonder if NASA uses "FULL GO"?). So, with the locals standing around staring at us, Todd and I went back to the van and brought out some squeegees, and we went to work. I was told later that there was a rumor that the Spitfire Team was supposed to show up around 5pm on Friday. So, when we pulled in, a couple of the older locals said, "hey, it's the Spitfire Team..." trying to make the kids think that we were that team! Ha! Dodge Caravan, with Washington Plates, the Spitfire Team! Anyway, it must have been a wild rumor because the Spitfire Team never showed up.

So, Todd and I proceeded to dry the place out. The deep end is so big, I didn't think that we'd get that dry, so I told Todd, let's just dry down to the pipe, so we can skate the pipe at least. That's when a local named Jack jumped into the bowl, and started using a push broom to dry out the park.
He was the energizer bunny. We had almost gotten the mini ramp area next to the 14 foot quarter pipe dry, and he starts in on the deep end. So, through the pipe we go. And we're all drying the deep end too. 30 minutes later, the whole park was dry. We were thanked for bringing the tools. Andy came up to me and asked me if I was Dan, because he knew we were coming, and well, Washington Plates, squeegees.... Hmmm. ..must be Dan. So, we showed them a little bit of our Seattle skatepark drying techniques. Maybe they might invest in some squeegees now, who knows.

While squeegeeing the park off, I noticed it had that nice smooth as butter, Dreamland quality. Like there's nothing better, that smooth Dreamland concrete! The locals were telling me how these Dreamland guys would spend hours troweling the concrete to get it smooth. I have no clue how they do it, but it sure is a nice ride!

So, Todd and I pad up and stretch, and skate (old guys do it a little slower). But, boy, this park was totally worth the drive. I can't tell you enough. It is so fast, so smooth, so gnarly. While I was padding up, I was sitting there looking at that 14 foot quarter pipe, and thinking, Hmm...when was the last time I skated something that big (1981)? So, all I wanted to do was get a grind on that wall. So, my second run, I'm up there grinding away. Well, to be honest, I was sliding. It was pipe coping after all. We had to explain to the locals what "real" coping is. But, grinding a 14 foot wall, I had to relearn how to ride big vert! The weightless feeling. One time I was thinking I would go up for a frontside air. Well, I was leaning back just a little too much, I did a "Wilson" (from Dennis the Mennis fame, "Mr. Wilson!"), my board was launched 30 feet into the air, as I went sliding on my backside all the way down. The locals all thought that was the coolest thing they had seen in a while (I could hear my son my in head when he was 3 years old, "again! Do it again, daddy!!).
So, a board flying 30 feet in the air, what are the chances of it landing on it's wheels unscathed? Next to none. Especially if you were planning on riding that board in one of the sickest parks in the NW, for the next two days. So, I pick up my board and find a huge dent in the tail (Hmm...time to cut a new deck?). But, who cares, we had to fill in for the vacant Spitfire team! So we rode until it was dark.

The park. It has a small freestyle/street section, with a volcano, and kids would carve around and fly into this area quite a bit. Connected to that was a mini ramp sized area, but it had this 14 foot tall quarter pipe on one side, and a 16 foot tall full pipe on the other, so not only could it function as a mini area, but also a huge halfpipe. Because the full pipe could be ridden, both inside and outside. I thought it was a real ingenious set up. One could even ride over the full pipe and into the deep, or back up over into the shallow area. The full pipe is laid sideways, with a snake run connection between the mini area, and the deep end. So the most common line was thru the full pipe into the deep. And sometimes back up thru the pipe, back to the mini area. The blind spots limited this to when it wasn't as busy. The deep end, is about 8 feet deep at the end of the pipe, and then goes down hill from there. And the walls just get higher and higher. Up to 14 feet at the very tip of the deep end. I eventually got a full speed carve grind in this area from rolling off the top of the full pipe. What a rush!

A cool Bar and Grill place was recommended for good burgers in Ketchum, we ate there, and we agreed, they made pretty good burgers. After that we headed up looking for a place to camp.

After much searching we finally found FR 22, and I guess it's called Deer Creek Campground. No fee, just camped by the creek. We made a fire, it was getting cold fast. We decided to sleep in Hotel Caravan, due to the onset of a cold night.
Saturday April 19th
I was coaching a baseball game, and I told everyone I had enough. It was too cold to play, and I was going back inside. At which point I woke up and looked at my watch. It was 3 AM, and I was cold. I got another blanket, and tried to stay warm. I fell asleep wondering how one knows if they are hypothermic or not. At 6 AM I started the Van and looked at the thermometer, it said 22 degrees. Hmmm...kinda cold. I let the van
up and tried to sleep some more. Then I had to get up and move around at 7am. I went outside with Mer, and we checked out the very scenic area. I took some pictures, and even spotted a Beaver. Mer chased some birds, and kept finding sticks she wanted me to throw.

Todd slept, I don't know how, but he did. And we finally made it back to the skatepark later in the morning. It was one beautiful day. No clouds in the sky, and smooth concrete was calling our names. This was our second day at the park, and we were starting to get to know the lines and where the drop in points were. It has three places to roll into (like roll in's where there's no coping), and a roll in off the tip top of the pipe, and various places to drop from. So, it took a while to figure out where to look to find out if it was clear to go or not. Often times you'd hear a guy say, "rolling" just before he rolled into the bowl. Some stayed in the shallow area, and some rolled all around thru the pipe and into the deep end. It's quite a fun design.
Coming from the coast, my lungs were killing me after each run, due to the elevation. I felt more tired than ever. So, we took shorter runs, and longer rest periods in-between. Just when you think you're in shape, you go to 5 thousand feet in elevation, and can't hardly skate as long without doubling over gasping for air.

The "roll over" the pipe was the trick I wanted to do before I left. I tried a couple of times on Saturday, but couldn't get it. It took all my energy, push starting from way back, rolling into the shallow area, and pumping for all I was worth around and up the pipe. I was finally able to do it Sunday, I was so stoked! There was one guy who was trying to do a double roll over. Roll over into the deep and back over into the shallow in the same run. I didn't even get close to that!

We skated for a couple hours and decided to take a break.

Dave from the Board Bin, in Ketchum had invited us up to his shop the day earlier, and so we decided that would be a good break. The shop was cool. Todd decided that there was a board there that he had to have. Same as the first board he ever had. So, unexpectedly he purchases a board. I get a shirt to support the local skatepark fund.

We head back and skate with Jack. And after another couple hours of skating it was time to call it quits. We were beyond tired. We hung out with Jack at the local watering hole. He invited us to De Vinci's Italian Restaurant in Hailey. And boy that was some good Italian food! Many thanks to Jack and Becky for being the best hosts we could imagine!

Jack is an interesting character. If you meet him, you'll never forget the experience. He grew up in Upland,CA., and that was the only other park he's skated, way back when. Then he gave up skating, and raced Motorcycles, and bicycles of all kinds. Mostly in the deserts. Now that they have built a park in his home town, he's decided to skate again. It's wonderful to see. His excitement was infectious, and it was a real charge to skate with him.

After hearing our stories about being cold the night before Jack and Becky offered to let us stay at their place for the night. After all camping on their floor would be a little warmer than in Hotel Caravan. Todd decided that he was really interested in camping after all. So he slept in the van and kept Mer company. Me, I'm on the warm floor. So, I was pretty rested for the trip home the next day, and since I was the
only driver, that was a good thing.


Easter Sunday April 20th
And much to our satisfaction, Jack and Becky cooked a marvelous breakfast the next morning. I couldn't thank them enough!

We had two hours or so to skate, and then hit the long road home. And skate we did. I had the camera's rolling the whole time, we went through two more rolls of film. And by this third day, the pipe was feeling a little more comfortable, and the deep end didn't seem so deep as it did on the first day. Todd was grinding the deep end almost each time. And we were both getting higher and higher in the pipe. I noticed that the carving kick turn technique was the trick to getting higher in the pipe, it was just too much fun! We skated ourselves out, in just two hours. Our legs were ready to just sit for 10 hours.

The trip was a complete success (it was Easter, and we didn't find any eggs, we found one great park to skate!), no one got hurt, the Van turned 200,000 miles, and didn't break down. And we skated one of the most killer parks in the world, without a doubt! Thanks to Jack and Becky for being great hosts. And thanks to all the other locals Andy and Dave at the Board Bin Shop. And meeting the Montana dudes (Kyle and ?). And thanks to Todd, for without a co-pilot, I wouldn't have gone on this trip. It was just one great weekend!

- Dan Hughes
Hailey photos

Dan Hughes has been skating longer then just about any of us. you can find him in our forum or check out his gallery HERE.

This was originally published on I tried to keep the original formatting that Bobcat used.

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