Winter Wonderland – Jackson Hole, Wyoming

This last week, my comrade and I went to go visit our friend and old coworker who just recently moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to work at the National Elk Refuge there. What a much needed adventure! Though our stay was quick, it was so fun.

If you haven’t spent time in Jackson Hole or the Tetons during the winter time, I would strongly recommend visiting. The Antler Arches are all lit up, the shops are all sorts of cozy, and the ski resorts are hoppin’. I would, however, like to offer a disclaimer, driving over Teton Pass was treacherous, you will 100% need snow tires and a confident driver. The road is icy and at a 10% grade. Also depending on what time you are traveling, the roads are alive with wildlife, so be weary.

During this trip we were fortunate enough to stay with our friend at her bunk housing on the elk refuge. Working on the Elk Refuge, she has many responsibilities, such as counting and watching wildlife, as well as doing research on the elk that live and migrate there. The Elk Refuge offers tours of the refuge that are done by horse drawn sleighs. We were able to attend one of these tours and it was really cool! We learned about the elk and their migration patterns, what they eat, how they survive the cold, how they make their stay on the refuge more enjoyable throughout the season, and how we are safely able to ride so close to them without scaring them off.

Since we were in Jackson Hole, we had to go to the Tetons. The majestic mountains were hidden by fog in the early morning when we first started hiking, but the weather was perfect! It was 38 degrees outside and there were not a lot of people on the trail. The snow was still fluffy and much of it was still untouched by anyone. Several trails that we hiked on were packed down. Our first hike was up to Taggart Lake, sans snowshoes. This is an extremely easy 3.3 mile hike that takes you directly to the lake that is completely surrounded by trees. On the hike we ran into a moose friend who was eating and hanging out near the trail. Now if you don’t know moose safety, here are just a few things to remember:

  1. Moose like their personal space, as long as you are not interfering with their personal space, you will not be seen as a threat and it is best for you to just continue on your way.
  2. If you are ever charged by a moose, run. These animals are very fast so it is likely that you will not outrun them, but once you are out of their space and they do not deem you a threat any longer, they will move on.
  3. If you are charged and the moose catches up to you, you can try to hide or climb a tree, but if these options are not available; stop, curl up into a ball and use your hands to protect your head the best you can. You may get stomped on but if you stay still the moose will move on and will not be interested in you any longer.

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We carried on our merry way hiking and did not pause to gawk at the animal. The rest of the hike was uneventful, but it is important to note, when hiking in the snow that it is easy to get lost. When there are no trails to follow it is easy to lose your way and get disoriented. Make sure to stop and check your surroundings often, so you do not lose your way. You can always follow your footprints back, but that isn’t the best navigational tendency to follow. When we reached the lake, it was beautiful! Such a wide open area covered in fresh, untouched powder. Another safety measure to take is to not wander onto any frozen bodies of water, even if the ice looks sturdy, you can be easily fooled. Snow can cover thin patches of ice and it can be dangerous and even deadly if you fall into a body of water that cold. Do not attempt to walk across a frozen body of water like that, it is best to just observe and marvel at the beauty.

This was such a fun adventure. It was great to see one of our friends doing what she loved and even more fun to have her teach us about what she did.

In conclusion, this trip was so much fun. The Tetons are beautiful and you can still have fun outside in the winter time! Just remember to wear layers and pack accordingly. Also, do not forget water! Stay hydrated. Snow has a 1:10 ratio so if you think you can just eat snow if you run out of water, that isn’t a good idea. Stay safe and have fun!

Brooklyn Smout

Recreation Outlet Ogden

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