Something to Lose

Teton Pass’ Fuzzy Bunny Trail might sound cute and fluffy, but there are plenty of moves that can eat even experienced riders. Andrew Whiteford risks life and limb while sending one of the trail’s many gaps, just as the fog rolls into the valley below.

Something to Lose Teton Pass, Wyoming's Army of Ambassadors

The entrance was just there, somewhere, in the forest of pine, aspen and thick deadfall left of the main trail.

It was definitely there. Though I looked, I couldn’t find it. That was the summer of 2006, and I rode past the rumored entrance almost daily, searching, but not too hard, secretly afraid to find it, because then I’d have to ride it.

The trail, dropping off the top of Teton Pass in western Wyoming and 2,500 feet nearly to the valley floor, had existed in some form for six or seven years. It was called Lithium, and in the early 2000s was reserved for a small, hushed group of locals with downhill rigs who labored illegally in the forest so they’d have somewhere to ride their new bikes. Those in the know took care to use different access points, to avoid wearing giveaway entry or exit paths.

By the time I was creaking by in 2006, Lithium was the only survivor of a trio of short-lived, illegal downhill trails in the Bridger-Teton National Forest [BTNF]. In late 2004, a first-ofits- kind deal saw bikers promise not to ride the other two ever again, Lithium had become a legal, United States Forest Service-sanctioned public bike trail. For a novice like me, it was already the absolute shining pinnacle of biking achievement. I waited another season before I followed some friends in, and exploded in short order, falling down its rocky tech sections. I thought it was fantastic. I came back again and again. I gave no thought as to how this marvel had come to be here in the woods.

More than a decade later, that hidden entrance can be found via helpful, informative signage: “Lithium, freeride bike trail, downhill only.” And so the former punk trail basks in fully legal status, proudly adhering to sanctioned USFS trail requirements, the headliner of the first official downhill- bike-specific trail network on public land in the United States. Yet like most seemingly magical creations, the path to this fancy greeting signpost was anything but.

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