By Dina Mishev
Winter has sort of arrived in Jackson, but not fully. One day last week, I left my house at 8 a.m. wearing flip-flops. A light rain was falling but this footwear was not entirely inappropriate. I hung out for a couple of hours — enjoyed a double espresso and salt bagel with a schmear of honey/walnut cream cheese at Pearl Street Bagels. When I finished, the light drizzle had morphed into golf ball sized snowflakes. I walked 100 meters from Pearl Street Bagels to the post office, and, as I went in to check my mail, I was squishing and dripping all over the place. It felt like winter had arrived. Two hours later it all melted and, once again, winter was gone.
Last weekend, during a span in which winter was not present, my friend and I went on an adventure. In October and November in the lower elevations, winter comes and goes. Up in the mountains though, winter has arrived and set in for good.
We began hiking at the Swift Creek trailhead near GraniteHot Springs just outside the Gros Ventre Wilderness. While hiking shoes were certainly the appropriate footwear for the first couple of miles, we knew snowshoes or cross-country skis would be best for the higher elevations. But, up for an adventure, we carried neither with us. We were going snow hiking!
For those who don’t mind wet feet (or who have Gore-Tex hiking boots) and enjoy a rarely seen perspective, snow hiking is a lovely sport, albeit — one with a very limited season.
If you wear Gore-Tex hiking boots, which I never do; no matter the distance, terrain, or how much I’m carrying on my back, I always hike in regular trail running shoes with a sticky rubber sole. This way, you can keep your feet from getting wet.
Trekking poles are a nice addition. Gaiters make things easier too. If you trek somewhere where the snow is above the tops of your shoes, gaiters will keep your pant legs dry. Yaktrax aren’t a bad call either, not that they’ll guarantee you won’t slide around a bit.
And smiling is always good. Chances are you’ll slip once or twice. But, whether that’s because you lose your footing, or get distracted when you spot a moose against the white snow that you otherwise might have missed. I can’t say.
On my snow hike last weekend, I saw two moose — a mom and her calf — that were far enough away and quiet enough that I’m not sure I would have noticed them had they not had a white backdrop.
My snow hike up to Antoinette Peak was fairly arduous; we were out for seven hours. Easy and shorter snow hikes around Jackson Hole are up Cache Creek just east of downtown Jackson and around Bradley and Taggart Lakes in Grand Teton National Park. Just remember, be prepared for moose.
Find more information to plan your Wyoming Adventurescape at www.wyomingtourism.org.