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Three Perfect Days: Jackson Hole

In this former cattle ranching capital, the West is still as wild as ever, but that doesn’t mean every meal needs to be prepared over a campfire

Author Sam Polcer Photography Sam Polcer

Fishing guide Boots Allen demonstrates how to hook a trout in the chilly Snake River

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DAY THREE | Though it’s a few miles down the road in a tiny community called Wilson, your James Beard Award–winning breakfast destination isn’t hard to find. “Just look for the 20-foot trout on the roof,” your concierge tells you. Giant fish notwithstanding, Nora’s Fish Creek Inn is a no-nonsense cabin serving up trout with eggs or corned beef hash to devoted locals. You opt for the “world famous” huevos rancheros, which barely fit on your plate—and eat the lot.

The coziness of the joint—its stone fireplace and bottomless cups of coffee—makes you consider staying awhile, but it’s time to hit the road back to Jackson, where you’ve booked a horse-drawn sleigh ride into the 24,700-acre National Elk Refuge, home to the largest elk herd on the planet. As you bounce across the plain toward thousands of grazing, dozing and braying animals, you spot three regal bucks strolling away from the group, the Tetons rising behind them. It makes for one heckuva panorama.

Lunch is at the Wort Hotel’s Silver Dollar Bar & Grill, named for the 2,000 or so 1921 Morgan Silver Dollars inlaid on the bar. A guy on the sleigh ride earlier had recommended you try the hickory-smoked pheasant soup, so you do, and spend the next few minutes contemplating how you might go about finding him to express your gratitude. It’s that good.

A short while later, you’re standing waist-deep with Snake River Angler guide Boots Allen, holding a fly rod. After a short introduction, you’re casting like, well, someone who just learned to cast. The Snake River is home to the most robust population of native cutthroat trout (so named for the linear red, pink and orange marks under the fish’s chin) in the Rocky Mountain West; the waters are teeming with them—except, apparently, the spot where you’re standing. But then the line goes taut and you reel in an intricately spotted specimen. Allen’s tallied four, but no matter. Success!

Feeling rugged and outdoorsy, you head to the town of Wilson, where you celebrate your first fly-fishing expedition with a glass of Veil of Composure pale ale at Q Roadhouse (another Fine-owned eatery). You’re powerfully hungry after wading through that river all afternoon, so when the buffalo burger you order from the eclectic, Southern-influenced menu arrives, it doesn’t stand a chance.

Next it’s off to the Stagecoach Bar, where country and bluegrass outfit The Stagecoach Band is playing for appreciative two-steppers. The bartender points out the banjo player, whose leg appears to be permanently bent. The guy’s name is Bill Briggs. “He was born without a hip joint,” you are told. “His hip is fused into that position.” As local lore has it, Briggs was the first person to ski from the top of the Grand Teton. “They say he’s the father of extreme skiing.” Only in Wyoming.

There’s time for one more back at the hotel, so you belly up at the Handle Bar, a new après pub facing Rendezvous Peak. Though you’re tempted by another array of local microbrews, you decide to give your own defiant attitude a whirl and order a dainty cachaça fizz from the bar’s inventive cocktail list. So what if I’m drinking a frothy cocktail, you think as a sugary mustache begins to form on your upper lip. What I drink is nobody’s business but my own.

Hemispheres photo editor SAM POLCER would be much more excited to go to work every day if there were a team of Alaskan sled dogs to take him there.

2 Responses to “Three Perfect Days: Jackson Hole”

  1. david yashar 1K Says:
    November 21st, 2013 at 2:04 am

    reading this months magazine, I came across an advertising regarding beaver comforters…can somebody please forward me the web site for that company. certainly would appreciate it.

  2. Joseph Paine Says:
    November 23rd, 2013 at 11:18 am

    I have been living on the West Bank of the Snake river for 3 years now and am an annual 100+ day skier at JHMR. My Mother pulled a Hemisphere mag off her plane to show me the article about my home.

    Sam you did a good job writing about what you know, luxurious amenities, but pretty much blew it writing about things you don’t know, namely hardcore ski culture and the infamous Jackson Hole Air Force.

    You should have encouraged everyone to buy the movie “SwiftxSilentxDeep” and probably should have watched it yourself. Aside from the video, Jackson Hole Air Force gear is not for sale at any shop anywhere in the valley. You also can’t show up and “try for an Air Force patch” unless you show up and dont leave for 10 years, skiing extremes beyond anything you’ve ever imagined, and not being a jackass. Its not about how hard you go, its about how hard you go and who you are as a person.

    Kudos to you for finding that picture of Wild Bill Bowen dropping into S&S in his denim though. That was far and away the best part of the article. I am clipping it for the Hostel employee kitchen refrigerator door.

    Also, you got the actual height of the mountain wrong by 400 ft. The actual height is 10,450 not 10,927 – wherever that number came from. To your credit though, Wikipedia says its over 12,000 which is waaaayyyy off. Thank God you didnt go with that number.

    Also, Wyoming Whiskey is garbage and that editor at Whisky Mag was either paid off or just very drunk. Have you ever heard of a 3 year bourbon? I never had until WyoWhiskey rushed their whole process and put out that godawful young batch. Id rather drink moonshine… and I frequently do. 3 year bourbon is a joke, quite frankly.

    I respect the fact that you wanted to mention the Air Force (which I am not a member of), I just felt obligated to point out some rather glaring false information in your article. Despite the obvious fact that your readership, the folks who can afford to eat at all the amazing restaurants you reviewed and stay in the posh 4 Seasons, will neither notice or care!

    Joseph Paine
    HostelX Housekeeping / Professional dirtbag skier

    Ski fast. Take chances.

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