As Amy wrote earlier this week, winter has arrived in Jackson Hole! For us locals, that means scrambling to get snow tires and preparing for ski season. Opening weekend is now a week away, and as usual, I’m totally unprepared, which is ridiculous. We literally wake up to see the Tetons every morning. It’s like God reminding me with these glorious snow-capped mountain views: “Get your act together, woman. The cousins are coming in January and you still haven’t found them a place to stay. And the kids have outgrown everything from last year, even their mittens.”
Winter means house guests, which makes for long après ski evenings and reminders that we are ever so lucky to live in a place that most people consider a dream just to visit. We live a little south of town, so I investigated a few rental homes with Jackson Hole Resort Lodging (JHRL) for friends and family who want to stay closer to the mountain and have a full-service vacation.
Hospitality at our house includes excellent wines, cute children, and a puppy. We’re really not up for competing with personalized grocery deliveries and on-demand ski rentals, especially not this year with JHRL’s Kids Ski Free promotion. Kids literally ski for free when staying at a JHRL property. That frees up precious vacation dollars for a new Bogner jacket from Teton Village Sports (TVS).
I had painful bouts of house envy while touring these rental properties. Also, I feel totally deceived that I never knew there are beautiful condo units directly above Kids Ranch available to rent through JHRL.
For the ten years we vacationed here as a family before moving to Jackson, Kids Ranch was our children’s second home. I fondly remember the morning junk show to get their snow clothes on, the gear in the car, park outside Kids Ranch, haul their skis and poles. Repeat at 4pm, right? It was all worth it for the awesome instructors and knowing the kids were learning to ski one of the greatest ski mountains in the world. However, now that I know that Alex could have been doing all that while I drank coffee, waving bye-bye from my bedroom window, I feel a little cheated. That’s the one I will recommend to our friends from New York. He loves to ski, she hates getting their kids ready for ski school. Actually, that sounds like us.
I toured a few more properties, and earmarked Granite Ridge Cabin #12 for another set of friends.
This is one of those stunning stone and timber homes at the edge of Lower Teewinot that you ski by and curse the people blissfully enjoying their après ski beers and hot cocoa out on the balconies.
They probably ended their day on the mountain with a soak in the hot tub, some champagne, took the Bridger Gondola up for a beautiful elk tenderloin dinner at Couloir, finished up with a drink (or two) and a really good band at the Mangy Moose, then walked back to the cabin. It all sounds like the perfect set up for a girls’ trip. More on that in December.
As for the gear, luckily, my husband, Alex (his fraternity nickname was Gearhead), was on top of it. He took all four kids to see the crew at TVS. My three girls are still young enough for seasonal junior rentals, but I can’t show my face in the rentals shop. In 2014, I sheepishly returned a pair of skis from winter 2012 (so, so sorry, guys). This being our sixth year as full-time residents, we’ve gotten the routine down thanks to a lot of automation at the mountain, including at TVS and the season pass office. Alex Jr. browsed some powder skis and rocker skis. People in Jackson acquire a wide variety of skis. Eskimos have 50 different words for “snow”, and in Jackson Hole you can line your garage walls with just as many skis – rock skis for early season, powder skis, AT skis for skinning backcountry, rocker skis for I’m not sure what. Being your average skier, I do just fine with what I call “skis”. Powder days I like to rent demo’s at any number of rental shops in the Village or even mid-mountain.
Alex was annoyed with me because I had only vague memories of what I had left in our ski locker in April. I love my locker, love it like the 9th grade girl decorating her first high school locker. It’s next door to TVS, right by Wool & Whiskey. The lockers are tricked out with boot dryer vents, seamlessly accessed with your season pass, and there’s always a cozy fire to welcome you. Knowing we’d be renewing our locker lease, I just left my own gear in there and – surprise! – three other pairs of skis, a helmet, and some random gloves. Been totally prepared all along!