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Jackson Hole

February 27, 2011

Over the course of the past few months, my wife and I have been battling the constraints of our daily lives, vocations, parenting a toddler and just plain normalcy. Prior to having a child, we often traveled once a month, no more then domestic destinations. Some of our most memorable experiences have been from traveling and exploring the wonders of the great U.S.A. Since our little bundle of joy entered our lives, many things have changed, including having more time in the evenings to sit write and read. One of the biggest changes has been less frequent vacations. This past year, we have been lucky to get out on a quarterly basis. Although perhaps much better then many of our peers, still a slight disappointment to us.

One of our favorite places to visit is the Tetons. We have grown a huge affinity for the majestic mountains that have redefined the experience of hiking for us. Of the course of the past four years, we have hiked all of the front and most of the back country trails of the Tetons. With much consideration, we agreed that we would finally go to Jackson in the winter, a first experience this year. Typically, a trip to the Tetons is not a major investment. However, in the winter we had to budget significantly to make this happen. Mainly because of two factors. First, we are not the most apt at winter camping, especially with a toddler. Although I would entertain the idea if any one would like to show me how to. Secondly, the necessity of going to ski Jackson Hole Ski Resort. Again, I would be more then willing to ski backcountry, but was on this occasion without knowledgeable comrades.

Having had canceled a couple of smaller vacations, we decided to spend a bit more and stay in more plush lodging, at least for our standards. We had reservations at the Wyoming Inn just on the perimeter of Jackson. We arrived on Friday night. Ella, our daughter, woke up immediately (11 PM) and was captivated by the beautiful decor, portraits of moose and wide halls and rooms. She ran up and down the halls, bounced on beds and was plain or hyped to be in Jackson. Although the pack’n play was not in the room as requested, and the internet was not reliable, the lodging was exceptional and we would recommend it for anyone who wants an up and coming new hotel.

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Although most people come to Jackson in the winter to ski, we wanted to see some of the other sights. We were fortunate enough to come on Presidents’ weekend. After visiting what we think is the best coffee shop in town, Jackson Hole Roasters,  we drove out to the National Park to snow shoe to Taggart Lake and along the unplowed road. Despite poor visibility, a huge disappointment for us, we did enjoy the 5 mile snowshoe with Ella in the pack. For most of the time, Ella was soundly asleep and dreaming happily. In fact, about an hour into the hike I heard Ella making growling noises in what I thought was a conscious state. Only to be informed that she was growling like a bear in a solid R.E.M. state. Although one of the downsides of traveling with a toddler is the instantaneous manner in which a good hike can go bad. Quickly she became irritable and no longer a happy camper. She has fared much better on much longer hikes. Even the sled method of entertainment did not work. A driving slumber was needed to calm this raucous child.

One of the highlights of this trip, as with most journeys, was the unanticipated surprises of seeing several people in and around the town of Jackson. While meandering through town, we ran into Jake and Veronica Mohrmann, fellow GORE MountainTechs. Coincidentally, they had planned to drive down on the same weekend to ski at Jackson Hole. Which spurred our conversation of the next day and joining forces on the slopes. We exchanged numbers and meet up on Sunday. 

Thankfully, we all enjoyed a restful night and were ready for the 10-12 inches of fresh powder that came over night. Despite the long tram lines we were able to ski powder almost all day. Jake is a great skier and it was especially nice not to have to celebrate the joys of endless powder by myself. If you have not had the chance, I would certainly recommend skiing at Jackson Hole Ski Resort.  The amenities can often be the first thing many people see and remember. However, the skiing and terrain is first class and is some of the best in the continental U.S. with over 4,000 vertical feet of skiing available and plenty of off piste options, you could easily come back day after day, year after year.

Kristin and Ella met me afterwards for an Apres Ski and the Mangy Moose. The Mangy Moose is perhaps one of the best places to grab a beer and munchies after a long day on the slopes. The local beers, spicy wings and epic nachos would be enough to satiate any skiers appetite. What made this especially great was two components. First, we all, including the dancing Ella, were able to enjoy the music of a local bluegrass ensemble. Secondly, in the midst of one of the libations, I saw an old college friend walking up the stairs. Promptly, I made enough of a spectacle to get his attention and initiate a reunion of sorts.

To book end this trip, we decided an especially touristy activity would be quintessential. With cash in hand we went over the the National Elk Refuge for a sleigh ride. Fortunately the thirty bucks was well worth it. Not only did we get to learn about and see an amazing herd of elk, but Ella and Kristin shared in child like enthusiasm for these beautiful animals. Even today, Ella can point to an elk or horse and make an animal sort of sound, which melts my heart.

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