Thursday, March 14, 2013

Jackson Hole

WARNING!  LOTS OF PICS!  i couldn't help myself!

sorry Moser, i just couldn't bring myself to type Jax Hole for the title.  and how i forgot to post the pics from our trip to Jackson Hole, WY at the beginning of Feb, i will never know.  but better waaay late than never right?  yeah right!  so here goes!

so this shot was actually taken a couple days into the trip. this arch is made entirely out of antlers.  i'm assuming Elk from the size but certainly could be deer.  the story i got from the dog sledding company (later) was that the boy scouts get to go out first each year & collect the antlers from the national park (Yellowstone  i'm assuming because i also didn't ask about that).  they assemble them into these arches (there are 4 in the town square).  amazing!
according to him, these arches are good for about 10 years - because the horns do deteriorate. when they start to look too weathered, they auction off the horns.  in many cases, the entire arch gets sold in one piece & relocated.  that's how the arch at the airport got there.  i was not able to take a picture of it because it is on the tarmac & you can't linger there - seems like a dumb place to put it then. hence this photo instead.

we spent our first 2 days doing the usual snowboarding at Jackson Hole Resort (aka Teton Village).
What a view!
i'd never been here before but heard plenty & so my expectations were pretty high.  were they met?  well, not really.  i'm not saying i wouldn't come here again, but it would not be my first choice.  maybe there just wasn't enough snow or maybe it's beyond my ability (which i don't think it is), but i was just very "meh" about it.  just not impressed.

one of the things that caught Korby & Nacho's eye was the sleeping indian in this photo.
i could not for the life of me see it.  believe me, Korby tried over and over and over and over and over...well you get it, but i just could not see it.  i'm sure you can.  so i took this photo in order to take it back to the room & look at it on the computer where i finally saw it.
well duh!  right there!  but when you are told multiple times "see that ridge..." then you might as well say "see that patch of snow".  on to better stuff!

on our 3rd day, the boys did a snow mobile tour in Yellowstone.  i skipped that for a reason you will see in a sec.  so i  had to rely on Nacho's photos from his camera phone.  to his credit he admitted, the phone just doesn't capture the true colors - they never do!
but not too bad.  they did get to see Old Faithful go off but no photo. sorry :(  however, they saw a bunch of bison!
they said it made them a little nervous when something that big is not intimidated at all by the snow mobiles.  but very cool nonetheless.

and if you didn't want to brave the elements on a snow mobile, apparently you could take a guided tour in one of these!
i think i will buy my old truck back from Nacho's company and trick it out like this for winter!

so what did i do while they were off galavanting & herding bison?  well, i got myself in some primo XC skiing!  i am in love with this activity people!
Cache Creek Trail was only a mile away from our condo.  so i got a nice hike up there & a nice hike back in addition to the 4 miles i xc'd that day!  this was my first solo adventure on true groomed trails & i could not have been better initiated!  i met some very nice people along the way and a lot of great dogs!  everyone had at least 1 dog with them & 99% of them were off leash (dogs & people), just running along while their owner(s) were skiing.  i soooooo need to move!

but here is the best part!  on our 4th day, the guys went back to board/ski on the mountain, but i had scheduled a little trip for myself.  A DOG SLEDDING TRIP!!!!  how cool is that you ask?  waaaaay cool!  first thing i want to say about this is exactly what they said to us before heading out:  everything/anything you've seen in movies/tv about dog sledding....don't believe.  the dogs they show you on tv/movies are typically Huskies or Malamutes & they are way bigger than these guys.  as they explained, and it makes sense, these dogs also compete in Iditarod races.  so like a human marathon, you want a fit/sleek competitor.  those Huskies/Malamutes, while very pretty, have been bred mostly for just that:  looks!  and are not built for this!  but on to the good stuff MUSH!
here is how it worked for us:  we did the Full Day trip (which i HIGHLY recommend).  there were 4 of us plus our guide Courtney.  so a mom & dad & their daughter, me & Courtney.  the mom and daughter were in 1 sled, then me, the dad & Courtney in the other.
here's the best photo i could find of Courtney & "dad" on our way to the springs
on the way out, i stood on the back with Courtney & "helped" drive.  a couple of times we got off the sled & ran while the dogs pulled uphill just so they didn't have to work as hard. "dad" got to lounge comfortably in the sled!  mom & daughter drove their sled all on their own - one driving while the other was in the sled.
wanna know something you don't see in these photos?  poop!  here's the thing, remember these dogs also are competitive racers.  so when racing they cannot stop to poop.  process that again:  they cannot stop to poop.  so when they gotta go, they gotta go while they are going!  put differently, they are going while they are going!  oh yeah!  so picture a dog at about a 12mph pace doing the big business.  i'm not kidding!  actually the drivers discourage it because most of the time, and if you own a dog you know this, they don't really need to GO, they are just marking.  so when one marks, they all feel the need to.  if they just let them do this as they like, this trip would never leave the station!  but don't worry, they didn't get punished or anything.  they would do their business while being corrected all while still trotting along!  it is something to be experienced to say the least!

we stopped for lunch at Granite Hot Springs where we all took a dip while the guides took care of the dogs then prepped our lunch.  sorry no photos but i only had my camera phone & if you know how bad i am with my phone, then you know why i would not dare take it in the pool with me!
 after about an hour of lounging in the hot springs, we sat down for an awesome beef stew lunch and some A-M-A-Z-I-N-G huckleberry cordials from The Huckleberry People.
and let me point out something very important here:  before the staff did any of the prepping for us humans, they took care of the furfriends first!  the dogs are their priority, not the people.  so they go over each dog checking their paws, rewarding them, getting them water & their food FIRST!

after lunch, we headed back home!  at this point we switched places, so i got to sit in the sled while "dad" helped drive.  we did stop along the way to take some pics.  in a very rare moment, i actually let Courtney take a picture of me, with the dogs of course!
they really aren't too much bigger than our boxers.  but i hope you can also see they are very happy!
and here's where i want to get on a soap box:  
so when i Googled reviews for Jackson Hole Iditarod Sled Dog Tours, there was this one person from Georgia that had terrible things to say about the company & the treatment of the dogs.  let me say, that person has no idea what a working dog is.  i grew up around hunting dogs my entire childhood & there's a big difference between the dog you keep in your purse & these guys.  they are bred specifically for this & this is what they live for.  as Courtney said, if a dog ever needs to be kept inside (for example an injury or really sick), they actually hate it.  they are very selective about what dogs get bred - unlike those puppy mills so many people get their purse dogs from.  also, when one of their dogs can no longer race or work, they become "greeters" back at the office.  they do not put dogs down because they can't work anymore.  so if you think these guys are mistreated, then you need an education!
does this guy look unhappy to you!
and the end of our trip brings me to housing!  JHISDT has over 200 dogs & this is how they house them.
this is genius!  those are cable spools for anyone who has never seen one.  in the winter, turned upright like this, they can get inside (yes inside) them & that keeps them off the ground.  their straw is changed out daily.  so AGAIN, these guys are treated very well!   in the summer, they turn the spools on their side so the dogs can not only get in them, but the flat becomes their roof & shade.  i showed this to my daddy & he's now hunting down spools for his dogs!
i'm still trying to figure out how to get this girl in my pocket & sneak her home!
i cannot say enough (obviously) about our guide Courtney & the tour.  it was the highlight of my trip.  remember how i said i was all "meh" about Jackson Hole?  well, not after this.  the XC skiing plus this MADE the trip for me.  i would come back to this in a heartbeat!  i'm now wanting to come back in summer when you can mountain bike as well!

and in yet another uncharacteristic move for me, here's a pic of me and Nacho on our last day.

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