Country Western Swing Dance Lessons in Jackson Hole

Two years ago I was elbow deep in preparation for my August wedding, reading the Knot blog posts and perusing Pinterest boards for inspiration when I came across a post about preparing for your first dance.54113_637296061575_1650376246_o My then fiance, Jared, would regularly joke about how I had an allotted number of times I could get him out on the dance floor each year. Every time I would drag him out on the dance floor at a friends wedding he would remind me “you are using up one of your dances tonight!” In our early years when I frequented the Stagecoach Bar in Wilson for Disco Night, or Ladies Night as it’s also referred to, on Thursday nights I invited him the first few times. After politely declining every time I came to realization that Thursday nights at “the Coach” were always going to be a true ladies night for me.

So when I came across the article about our first dance a little bit of panic set in. We definitely didn’t have much practice dancing as a couple and I was having a western wedding, complete with the cowboy boots under my dress, so how could I not throw in some country western dance moves for our first dance? I immediately turned to my best friend, Google, and asked it where I could find country western dance lessons in Jackson Hole. It generated one solid lead – Dancer’s Workshop offered country western dance lessons at the Center for the Arts. Yahtzee!

I pulled up the schedule and my enthusiasm rapidly waned as I realized that the only lesson available before our wedding was an advanced lesson. Jared and I didn’t even know what foot to start with, let alone how to do a turn. I called up the Workshop and asked if the lesson was suitable for beginners. They said that it may be a little advance but we should be fine. So we each donned our cowboy boots, paid our $20 fee and entered the dance studio, where the lesson was held. Within the first 5 minutes we knew that we were in over our head. They were teaching complex, old school country western dance moves, such as “the window”. One of the instructors noticed us flailing in the corner and came over and gave us some basic maneuvers to work on. We had a good time but knew that we probably should have started with a class for beginners. So, when last week I saw an ad for free country western dance lessons at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar on Thursday night, I told Jared that we should attend.

We showed up at 7:30PM, grabbed a drink from the bar and headed to the dance floor. There were three instructors – one old school cowboy and two ladies with flowing skirts. We started by learning the steps, one foot in, one foot planted in the back – lean in, lean out, lean in, lean out. Once we had that sorted we moved on to a girl turn, then a guy turn. As we progressed through the lesson we realized that we knew a lot more about country western dancing than we gave ourselves credit. There were a few couples who had clearly never danced before, dancing like puppies whose paws are too big for their body, clumsy and flailing. They watched us with awe, as if we were Michael Jackson doing the moonwalk for the first time. However, I’m pretty sure that we looked like bumbling idiots, just less so than them.

We were taught the cuddle and how to do a behind the back boy turn. Then we learned the two step, which while it is important to the history of country western dancing, I have yet to really see it being done on the dance floors in Jackson Hole. After the lesson we tipped our instructors and then the band started. We grabbed a beer and headed out onto the dance floor to try our new moves. We had an absolute blast! And I think that we even got a whoop or two from the crowd – though I could have completely been imagining that. If you are interested in learning how to dance, or even just to experience some true western culture, I would highly recommend attending the country western dance lessons at the Cowboy Bar. The lessons occur every Thursday from 7:30PM to 9PM. Make sure to bring a partner because when we went there were a lot more girls than guys so they didn’t end up doing the lesson. So grab your partner, don your cowboy boots and head down to the Cowboy for some good old fashion dance lessons!

**Note – the Dancer’s Workshop offers Country Western Dance Lessons on occasion. They currently do not have any lessons scheduled**


June 17, 2015 at 2:17 pm Leave a comment

Morel Hunting in Jackson Hole

Canyon and I are both on the hunt. Walking with purpose, scanning the ground. Of course, we are looking for different things. He is looking for a red tailed squirrel that keeps chattering, taunting him as he sits Morel Unpickedsafely in a nearby tree. I am searching for morel mushrooms, an edible treasure that grows in the spring. As I part some tree branches, bushwacking off of the trail, I look down and spy a brown fungi. Precisely what I am looking for. I admire the wavy pattern of the cap and as I kneel to pick it I let the joy of the hunt spread over me. I found one! My first morel. And then, like a drug addict, I am on the hunt for another one. Craving the satisfaction and high that you get from finding a wild mushroom.

Last year, I went foraging for the first time. My first experience was hunting for golden chanterelles. At night I would dream of finding them. Whenever I was on a hike I always kept my eyes peeled for them. After finding my first morel, I assure you, the feeling is the same. As I sit in my office, I am daydreaming of wandering around in the woods in search of small brown beauties. Remembering the taste of my morels, which I dredged in flour and fried in butter last night, makes my mouth water. They tasted earthy and soft.

As far as wild mushrooms go, morels are easily identifiable and valuable – a pound of mushrooms can sell for around $14 dollars a pound. However, they are rather elusive. After an hour of searching, I onlMorel in Handy had 3 small morels to show for my effort. However, they are just starting to grow at the elevation of the area where I was looking for them.

Like most mushrooms, morels like moist ground and grow in treed areas. Morel hunting is a favorite pasttime of many Jackson Hole residents, but don’t ask them about where they go hunting. Like hunting elk, friends rarely share their hunting grounds. People have their secret spots where they return to year after year to harvest mushrooms. The last thing they want to do is increase the competition and have to share their bounty with someone else. The secretiveness of morel hunting makes the experience even more thrilling.

I don’t recommend that you eat any wild mushrooms unless you are certain that you have correctly identified them. While morels are rather easy to identify, there are a few mushrooms that look similar and can cause gastro-intestinal distress. Here is a link to information on false morels.

Morel hunting is a family friendly activity and is very enjoyable – even if you don’t find any mushrooms, the walk in the woods and the thrill of the hunt itself is very fun. Morels grow in Jackson in May and early June, so go take a walk and see what you can find! Just don’t ask me where I found mine… 😉

May 18, 2015 at 3:19 pm Leave a comment

Brittany’s Ideal 5 Day Yellowstone Trip

Up next, we have our front desk representative, Brittany’s recommendations. Though not as detailed as Kelly’s recommendations this is a great itinerary if you already have an idea of where you would like to stay in Yellowstone. In case you missed it, our front desk is giving us some great ideas for itineraries if you have 5 days to spend in Yellowstone and the Jackson Hole area. See our front desk manager Kelly’s recommendations here!

Day 1: Yellowstone Van TourOld Faithful

Start off your trip with a tour of the park! Enjoy all the natural wonders that Yellowstone has to offer—including the famous Old Faithful Geyser!

Day 2: Fishing Bridge Hikes

Now that you’ve got the lay of the land, it’s time to get on your feet! Explore the variety of trails around Fishing Bridge and Yellowstone Lake!

Day 3: Mammoth Hot SpringsMammoth Hot Springs

Get to know the park through the lens of the past! Spend your day learning about Yellowstone’s history—while also checking out one of the park’s most well-known thermals!

Day 4: Lamar Valley Wildlife

While away the afternoon by viewing the wildlife of Lamar Valley! The Valley features some of the most beautiful flora and fauna in the park—and maybe you’ll even see a buffalo or two!

Day 5: Fountain Flats Trail Bike Ride

Drink in one final day in this magnificent place! Rent a bike at Old Faithful and ride the Fountain Flats Trail; nothing completes a trip to Yellowstone like cycling through the heart of the park!

April 23, 2015 at 4:36 pm Leave a comment

Kelly’s Ideal 5 Day Yellowstone Trip

Our front desk has created an itinerary for their ideal 5 day trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. First up, we have our new front desk manager, Kelly’s 5 day trip.

Day 1: Arrive in the town of Jackson, WY

  • Arrive at the Jackson Hole Airport
  • Eat at Jedediah’s at the Airport
  • Depart Jackson Hole Airport and head into the town of Jackson – Flying T Taxi $35.00+ (307-690-4141)
  • Check in to the Painted Buffalo Inn
  • Stroll through the Town Square & browse local shopping, watch “Old West Shootout” at 6pm
  • Dinner reservations at Nani’s

Day 2: Jackson Hole Area/Grand Teton National Park

Day 3: Grand Teton National Park      

  • Check out of Painted Buffalo Inn
  • Depart Jackson for Grand Teton National Park
  • Stop at Snake River Overlook for 6:09am sunrise; Photo Op!467709_630876396635_197025192_o
  • Breakfast at the Trapper Grill at Signal Mountain Lodge
  • Visit Jenny Lake Visitor’s Center
  • Take the Jenny lake ‘shuttle’ across
  • Hike Cascade Canyon trail
  • Stop for picnic lunch @ Hidden Falls
  • Take return Shuttle across the lake
  • Visit Jackson Lake & dam – small hike with potential for wildlife activity
  • Check in to the Jackson Lake Lodge
  • Have dinner at the historic Jackson Lake Lodge Mural Room

Day 4: Yellowstone National Park (South/West Sections)

  • Check out of Jackson Lake Lodge (early morning)
  • Depart for Yellowstone National Park333767_575487212005_241537584_o
  • Visit Duck Lake Trail at the West Thumb Geyser Basin – easy, 1mi hike
  • Visit Old Faithful Geyser – photo ops
  • Have breakfast at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge Geyser Grill
  • Purchase picnic lunch items from Old faithful Inn Bear Paw Deli
  • Visit the Geyser Basin area; including Grand Prismatic Spring, Great Fountain Geyser and Fountain Paint Pot – easy walks w. photo ops
  • Visit Harlequin Lake Trail & have picnic lunch – easy, 1mi hike
  • Check in to the Alpine Motel in West Yellowstone
  • Have dinner at Madison Crossing Lounge

Day 5: Yellowstone National Park (North/East Sections)

  • Check out of the Alpine MotelYellowstone Falls
  • Scenic drive to Mammoth Hot Springs Terrace
  • Check in to the Mammoth Campground (1st come, 1st serve, $20/nt)
  • Visit Wraith Falls – easy, family friendly hike
  • Visit the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone National Park – photo ops
  • Visit the Upper and Lower Falls – light walking, photo ops
  • Visit Artists Point – photo ops, potential wildlife viewing
  • Have dinner at the Roosevelt Lodge Dining Room
  • Visit Lamar Valley towards dusk for best chance at wildlife viewing
  • Return to campsite for s’mores and family bonding

For more resources on hiking in Yellowstone visit this website.

For more information on Grand Teton National Park click here. For more information on Yellowstone National Park click here. Do you have any additions that you would make to Kelly’s itinerary? Suggest them in the comments! Next week we will here from another front desk representative on what their ideal Yellowstone trip is.

April 16, 2015 at 5:28 pm 1 comment

Nightlife in Jackson Hole – The Local

I spent many  late nights closing down the Cadillac Bar & Grill, so when they closed their doorsThe Local JH two years ago I was devastated. No matter what came in its place, it couldn’t possibly be better than the Cadillac. And then, I heard that the new restaurant to open in its place was called the Local Restaurant and Bar. Locals refer to it as “The Local.” I thought, how can they really call it The Local, they have no idea if locals will actually patronize their restaurant. I was very skeptical, but true to their name, The Local on any given Friday or Saturday night is where you are going to find the locals. The school teacher, the entrepreneur, the ski bum and the fly fishermen can be found co-mingling, exchanging stories about their week and catching up with old friends.

The restaurant is located in downtown Jackson on Cache Street, next to the infamous Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. The restaurant itself boasts delicious, albeit expensive, steaks, elk and fish options. The bar menu has a variety of finger foods and includes a particularly tasty hamburger. They have a signature cocktail menu with drinks ranging from $9 to $12 and 12 beers on tap. The bar can get a liThe Local Jackson Holettle tight after 10PM as they have a fair amount of tables and seating around the bar and not much standing room. They do not have live music. The Local is a favorite place for locals to meet friends to catch up, celebrate a birthday, bachelorette party or grab a few drinks before heading over to dance at the Cowboy Bar. If you are looking for a quiet place to grab a drink I don’t suggest that you go to the Local on a Friday or Saturday night. The bar tends to be loud and crowded which can be fun or miserable depending on what type of mood you are in. If you want to be social and rub elbows with a bunch of locals it’s a great spot. If you are looking for a romantic spot to grab a drink with you hunny I would suggest heading to a somewhere else, like the Snake River Grill’s bar or Hayden’s Post. Either way, I would definitely pop in to the Local if you are looking for a good nightlife spot when you are in Jackson. You never know who you are going to run into!

March 26, 2015 at 3:13 pm 2 comments

Your Guide to Cody Peak

I have a photo of Cody Peak framed on the wall of my office. Whenever I need some inspiration I take a moment and ponder the mountain. It is so iconically Jackson and the terrain on it will challenge every fiber of your being. If you have ever skied off of the tram or Sublette chair at 892143_656237218345_1706851057_oJackson Hole Mountain Resort you have most likely notice the jagged peak to the South. Cody Peak is an extreme skier’s dream. With access just outside of the ski area boundary and a short boot pack, average joes can access terrain that is seen in extreme skiing movies. The peak is not for the faint of heart and I would recommend only for expert skier with extensive backcountry experience. There have been countless avalanches on Cody Peak as well as avalanche-related deaths on the peak. It is out of bounds, therefore you will need to have appropriate avalanche training and gear in order to ski the peak.

Cody Peak has numerous aesthetically pleasing lines. From the open powder field known as the Powder 8s to the extremely steep Pucker Face and narrow couloirs and chutes with names like “Once is Enough”, Cody has tons of skiable terrain. To reach Cody you leave the resort through the upper gate in Rendezvous Bowl and follow a mellow trail along the ridge to the bottom of the boot pack.

The HikeCody Hike

The Cody Peak boot pack is the scariest boot pack in the Jackson Hole sidecountry area. Depending on how much snow there is the first part of the boot pack can be more like a rock scramble.. with ski boots on. It’s a heart pounding experience. Plastic soles with no tread on icy rock is not a good combination. This, coupled with the fact that the peak is avalanches-prone means that it isn’t a good choice for early season skiing. The peak is best skied 10856563_791366682815_3695880803945005684_o(1)with a lot of snow, when the boot pack is more than likely to be filled in – with the exception of a few spots where you will need to scramble over rock outcroppings. Additionally, the peak is very susceptible to wind. If it is blowing more than 15MPH you most likely will not want to hike Cody, where you will be pummeled by wind during your entire hike.

Once you are above the scramble the hike becomes very mellow. You will hike down the ridge and around the back side of Cody Peak. Once you get to the top of the ridge you will have to make your decision on what you want to ski.

The Lines

There are 6 lines that you can ski off of the bootpack on Cody Peak.Cody Peak Named The first line that you will approach is called Pucker Face. It is an extremely steep face with a cliff ban in the middle. From the top all you can see is a roll over, right where the cliff ban is. It’s rather nerve wracking, not particularly knowing where the cliffs are. This face is also very prone to avalanches, so if you are the first one to ski it make sure you do a proper risk assessment.

The next line that you will reach is a bowl called No Shadows. It’s popular entrance is on the skier’s right of the bowl. Next up the ridge is Four Shadows, another steep bowl which is typically plagued by a large cornice on the top. The best way to enter Four Shadows is at the highest part of the bowl on the right hand side. Four Shadows and No Shadows are north facing, which means that they are good options during a drought when all of the southern aspects are baked or frozen. Up past Four Shadows is a north facing chute. Central is a hair raising, narrow no-fall chute with a mandatory air at the bottom. If you can ski it you most likely are a pro skier or should consider changing your career.

From the top of Four Shadows there is a bootpack traverse over to the south side of the peak. The first couloir that you reach is called “Once Is Enough.” With a sketchy entrance, this steep Once and Twice on Codyno-fall couloir is one of the most well known lines in the Tetons. You can see the line from the road, it’s the line in the notch of Cody Peak when viewed from the South. It’s a popular line to ski in the spring when the sun warms the snow and creates edgeable corn. If you look into Once and decide that it’s a little much for you, head up the peak further (to the East) and take a look at “Twice Is Nice.” As you can gather from the name of the line, it’s a more mellow option to Once with a nice hanging powder field that narrows into a choke. This steep line is equally fun during the springtime. These lines drop you into No Name Canyon. If you are looking to extend your day, keep right at the exit of both of the couloirs and take the traverse over to No Name.

Last, but not least, are the Powder 8s. This open powder field can be access by either skiing the North facing lines on Cody (Pucker Face, No Shadows, Four Shadows or Central), and then traversing over to the bottom of the bootpack, or by hiking the bottom of the bowl at the base of Cody Peak. The Powder 8 bootpack is relatively short and steep.. I mean, sweet. From the top of the Powder 8s you can ski the powder field or traverse over to No Name Peak or drop into No Name Canyon. The Powder 8’s are popular to lap.

So there you have it. I have skied all of the lines on Cody Peak except for Central and Once. The terrain is heart pumping and exhilarating. It is really amazing to have such challenging terrain just steps outside of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort boundary. If you are a serious backcountry skier I definitely recommend fitting a hike up Cody Peak into your trip!

February 16, 2015 at 7:02 pm Leave a comment

Dawn Patrols in Jackson Hole

Skiing. That’s the reason that I moved to this valley in 2009. Not for a job, not for a boy, not for my family or friends. Skiing. Skiing was the sole factor in my decision making when I chose Jackson Hole. Which is great until you start getting the itch to do more with your life than just ski and wait tables. But a career – that means giving up skiing, right? Not necessarily. You have to be a little more crafty but you can absolutely still ski on a powder day. You just have to be up at 6AM to do so.

Over the past few years I have become a master Chivers Sunriseof the “dawn patrol.” Dawn patrol is when you ski in the early morning. It means hiking in the dark with a headlamp, seeing sunrises from the bootpack and skiing down in the early morning light. It really is the most gorgeous time of the day. There is also the added benefit that you get first turns on a powder day, when everyone else is still in bed. For those who argue that you can’t be a ski bum and have a career I beg to disagree. I may not be a “bum” because I collect a regular pay check, but I probably get close to the same amount of days a ski bum skis each season. I believe that last year I skied upwards of 70 days. Of course, no lift is turning at 6AM, so all of my morning runs before work are done under my own power, by hiking or skinning to the top of the run.

A local favorite for dawn patrollers is Glory. Located at the top of Teton 10626352_786990103515_8252731746802420714_oPass a steep bootpack takes you to the top of Mount Glory. From the false peak there are a variety of options to ski back to your car which is parked at the top of the pass. The hike to the false peak typically takes about an hour if you are in good shape. Since it is backcountry skiing I always ski with a partner and avalanche gear. I also have taken the Avalanche 1 Safety class. Thankfully, I have some friends who work 9 to 5 and are as crazy as me. We carpool to Teton Pass and then hike and ski Glory or Chivers Ridge, or we drop a car at the bottom and skin out to Avalanche Bowl.

I have had mornings when I can’t feel my fingers or toes because the temperature is below zero. 1492335_711138281175_1746836959_oMornings where I’ve thought that I was going to get blown off of the mountain and no one would find me in the dark. Mornings where I have had to break the bootpack or skin track by post-holing through deep wind drifts and fresh powder. I have had turns so deep that I can’t see where I am going. Turns that make me giggle like a school girl all of the way back to work. It’s mornings like those that can help me get through a particularly challenging day.

In order to be a dawn patroller you have to be motivated. When that alarm goes off at 5:45AM you need to be able to jump out of bed, throw on your ski clothes and go start the car. It probably helps that I am a morning person, but I have never once regretted getting out of bed in the morning. Because if the snow isn’t good, the sunrise is typically spectacular. Or vice versa – with no sunrise it usually means that the skiing is going to be amazing.

photoWhen I first moved to Jackson I didn’t think that there could be such a balance between work and play. I thought that I would have to sacrifice what I love doing during the week and just live for the weekends. However, the quality of life in Jackson Hole is incredible. How many people get to say that they skied powder in the early morning and then brought home a decent pay check and progressed their career while doing what they love? All of the early mornings I have spent on Teton Pass or Snow King in town are worth it. The beautiful sunrises, the friendships that I have created with my fellow dawn patrollers, the fresh tracks in deep snow after a storm, all worth it. Then I come and sit at my desk and when things get tough, I think about the morning – the deep snow or sun rays cresting over the Gros Ventres Mountains and how all is right in the world.

January 22, 2015 at 4:05 pm Leave a comment

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