I’m finally back in New York and will slowly be finishing the trip reports of my (anti)-Epic Ski Bum Trip when I was having too good a time skiing and hanging out to update this blog, a real vacation!
Thursday January 8th, 2015:
I could have flown to Zimbabwe or Perth, Australia in the amount of time it took me to finally arrive in Jackson Hole!
After Sleeping well for only 6 hours I awake a little after 5:00am to a shower and head downstairs to the hotel shuttle. I’m back at the Airport before 6:00 and head through security. There is one problem, my flight isn’t to be found on any Airport Monitor. I’m with a few other people I recognize from the evening before. We’re also with are new pilot who can’t find the gate information on the Delta in-house crew scheduling app on his phone. We eventually remember to go to the same gate as last night.
At this point our departure time has been pushed back to 7:45am, Jackson Hole is still fogged in. A few monitors list our flight and don’t make a hole lot of sense, our arrival time hasn’t been updated. Also the LCD sign that’s supposed to illuminate the flight information behind the gate agents isn’t working (just like the fact our flight isn’t on any monitors).
They board the 30 of us at 7:20 and we sit on the empty plane. At 7:45, they announce were still waiting for the fog to lift and to please be patient. We can deplane if we wish.
I lay out over 3 seats since the plane is so empty and take a little nap along with reading the news on my iPad, during the delay. We have an excellent crew who make frequent passes with water and I get a soda at one point. The pilot walks the aisle explaining that were waiting for the fog to lift, needing a half mile of visibility consistently for 15 minutes. He says weather predictions call for it lifting by 10:00am. He even comes back to hand out snacks later, its the premium snack mix, clearly from first class.
At 9:33 they announce there is now 1 mile of visibility and to be seated for an immediate departure.
We push back at 9:35. Another safety demonstration.
Then we’re off to be de-iced. We leave the deicing pad at 9:47.
We’re finally at the runway at 9:55, and prepare to take off for another half-hour flight at 9:58. They then announce ATC is holding us for visibility in Salt Lake City, Luckily it’s a quick hold and were on the runway at 10:06 and take off for a second time 14 hours later. If only my flight hadn’t been delayed in LGA or I had booked a longer connection! The flight I was scheduled on yesterday afternoon left on time.
10:10 – Reach 10,000 feet. The scenery is fantastic as they come through with an expanded snack basket (because of the delay) including goldfish.
10:22 – Get the seatbelt sign off as we level off at 35,000 feet. I snap far too many photos of the mountain scenery.
We finally land at 10:50, going through some low-hanging clouds to the feeling fogged in airport. It’s 19 hours later than I was supposed to arrive.
We deplane the old fashioned way (with a Sky Priority mat off the plane) down air stairs onto the tarmac of Wyoming’s busiest airport. (I’m now wondering if Wyoming has any jetways at all, Google can’t seem to provide a definite answer). The United Express Plane has just arrived on a ferry flight from Denver after being diverted to Idaho Falls last night (less than a two hour drive away, I wonder if United had the courtesy to charter a bus). I snap a few photos deplaning, and get a stop taking pictures look from a ground agent, strange! In college I went on a behind the scenes tour of the Jackson Hole Airport, the link has photos of the baggage screening area and from our ride on the airport’s fire truck!
I leave and find the shuttle driver with my name on a board (beneath 3 others) that I booked yesterday for $31, a rip off in my opinion. Alltrans is at least a good reliable company. I called before to verify that they knew about my flight reschedule and said yes, we will be there and your reservation will be honored. I then head outside and board a 30ish passenger minibus, with about half of the few people on my flight. The Shuttle leaves at 11:15, we make a few stops in town.
I’m dropped off at the Tahoe Hostel at about 12:15. I quickly check in, go to my dorm room (that I had to pay for last night and didn’t sleep in). I head to the season pass office to collect my Mountain Collective Pass, attaching my credit card to it, to be automadically charged the half-priced lift ticket price of $55.00. I’m then off to the overpriced in resort ski shop ($35 a day, and I decide to just pay for all 3 days there to save the hassle of taking skis on TART into town).
At 12:45 I’m finally on the gondola heading above the clouds to start my skiing adventure!
That evening I do take the START Bus (for $3 each way) to have a pizza dinner and do a little bit of grocery shopping buying bread, english muffins, peanut butter, and other necessities to avoid eating the overpriced food within Teaton Village. I have also left the airport website open (forgot to take a screenshot) and notice I was on one of the only flights to make it to Jackson Hole today with all of the fog, the rest diverted (Idaho Falls for Regional Jets, Salt Lake City for the bigger ones, including the 757 from Chicago I took on last years ski trip) or canceled.
I have an excellent two days of skiing in Jackson Hole, not leaving Teton Village, only eating my $20 worth of groceries for breakfast (English Muffins with Nutella), lunch (peanut butter sandwiches), dinner (pasta and a jar of sauce). My Hostel roommates were interesting and diverse, a Brazilian Ski Bum, a medical student ski bumming his winter break, and an Australian journalist working on an article about Jackson for an Aussie Outdoor Magazine. My final night I was hanging out in the Hostel and went over the infamous Mangy Moose Saloon for some Hostel Takeovers ($5.50 for a tall boy PBR and shot of bad whiskey, can’t go wrong). The ski area is nice and empty with only packed powder and not real power conditions. I don’t really care. The snow is soft, excellent, and I find easy to ski. The strange weather continues with the top of the mountain in the sunshine (including to the bottom of the highest three lifts, Casper, Marmot, and Sublette) and skiing through the fog required to reach the bottom. I ride the lift with one local who says “It’s so nice to see the sun, I haven’t enjoyed it in a week!”
The conditions also meant we were able to walk straight onto Jackson’s World Famous Ariel tram (capacity 100 plus the operator) because no one feels like skiing through the cold fog to the bottom. My joke about the tram is it’s the only place in Wyoming your ever Subway-like packed like sardines. (I forgot to take an interior shot), but I’ll conclude this post with some exteriors, of tram loading and the top.
On Saturday afternoon during my final hours skiing in Jackson (my lift ticket bill here just over $50, thank you Mountain Collective) the weather flipped with the clouds going higher, the top of the tram in the fog, and good visibility lower for the rest of the mountain.