TETON VILLAGE, Wyo. – Arggggggggg! I’m a fair-weather skier and this is the fairest of days. The sky is blue and the powder is deep. My family is all over the mountain, but there is nowhere for me to ski!
Jackson offers only one easy green molehill of a slope that takes five minutes to come down—and that’s after a ten-minute wait in line. The next step up is a double blue peak that’s an Everest to me, given that I’ve only been on skis once in the past five years. So I had a choice: I could eat worms or I could enjoy what Jackson Hole Mountain Resort does offer. I ate worms. How’s that for stupid?
So here’s the lesson learned: Even on a family vacation, you’ve got to plan for yourself, too.
Next year, I plan to make the most of Jackson’s unique location. From the ski mountain, you can wander to Grand Teton National Park and over to Yellowstone National Park. So I’m going to sign up for wildlife tours in Yellowstone to catch a sight of wolves, or maybe take a cross-country ski tour of the Tetons, where if you’re lucky, you might see moose tracks.
Or, maybe you’ll just think it’s a moose.
One night in the hot tub, my nephew Nathan repeated stories told by one of his best friends, a large adventurer who is always getting in trouble with equipment because she fibs about her weight . . . like the time she went snowshoeing in the Tetons with her sister and a naturalist guide.
The storyteller sank into the snow while her sister and the guide skimmed ahead. They didn’t see her trip on a branch and flail endlessly to get on her feet. Eventually she caught up with them, and on the way back, the guide suddenly spotted where she had fallen. “Look!” he said. “There’s a moose bed!”
Sitting together with cold beers in hand, we laugh and tell jokes on ourselves. Which is why family vacations are precious, and why I wonder whether I will see a moose next year, or be the moose.
More information: Learn more about the animals in the park with Wildlife Expeditions from the Teton Science Schools, whose board of directors has included National Geographic magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, Bill Allen; Check out the Jackson Hole Nordic Center to get updates about winter activities at the mountain.
Cathy Healy once skied every area in the Andes. She didn’t speak much Spanish and she brought her own, four-foot, lesson-number-two skis. As her sister-in-law, Jean Bailey Healy, a superb skier from Wyoming, said, “Cathy proves that you don’t have to be a jock to have great adventures.”
Photo: Abby Phoenix via Flickr