As some of you know I spent a happy 5 days in Jackson Hole with the kids this summer. I texted my friend Susie over a margarita from the deck at Amangani asking if she would want to join me back in JH in October. She gave me a lightening fast yes, and I was thrilled to know that I would see these majestic peaks twice in one year.
Fast forward to mid October and we arrive to bold blue skies, happy sunshine, and bright yellow aspen trees against the backdrop of the snow dusted Tetons somehow even prettier than in summer. The Amangani is worth the splurge. It is now one of my favorite hotels as you feel like you are perched on top of the world, and it is like having a gigantic private modern cabin. The design is rustic sleek alternating smooth wood and plenty of untreated natural beams, the furniture draped in cozy fur, the windows all framing the picture perfect scenery. Every room has a view with floor to ceiling windows and a deck with natural grasses. I sunk into the furry chair mesmerized by the yellow aspen shaking like diamonds in the wind. I actually thought they had tied sparkling ribbons to the tree!
The town and park are quieter. The air crisp. The sun bright. Color abounds. We saw elk and a hiding moose. No bears! I blissfully returned to the trails I had hiked with the kids in summer….the Bradley/taggart lakes loop, String Lake loop to Jenny Lake, and a snippet of Phelps Lake. I spoiled myself with a luxurious spa treatment of a scrub, mud, a warm cocoon wrap, and a massage. Absurd. I felt like a baby.
The pool is pleasantly heated so that you can swim year round before luxuriating in the scenic hot tub. We poked ourselves as we said thanks for the beauty of the place. The food is fantastic. We enjoyed a light lunch of Asian spring rolls and chicken satay, and a satisfying dinner of elk and trout and killer mashed potatoes followed by a winning whiskey bread pudding. Oh yum!
I binge watched Homeland and we downed big margaritas to survive the presidential debate. We enjoyed elk peso bucco and devilishly delicious donuts at Snake River Grill and savored tortilla soup and margarita at Hatch. Most importantly I was blessed with an extended period of time with one of my dearest friends on the planet. Easy chats, hearty laughter, quiet relaxation, sound sleep.
Next we enjoyed a one day adventure to a friend’s real ranch about 2 hours south. I was blown away by the expansiveness of the valley and the deep serenity of the place. Rustic, simple, historic and utterly silent. The ranch also played an important role in preserving one of the largest pronghorn migration routes in the US. Remarkable. The locals call them speed goats. To me they looked like exotic African antelope with their gorgeous curly black horns. The elk are massive and plentiful. Grouse abound. The river held giant pods of 50 trout every turn. Not one was interested in feeding. They laughed at us as we laughed at ourselves beached on a sand bar with the river at a fall low. Getting off the sand bar was our work out for the day.
We tried riding the beautiful horses. This would have gone better save for the fact that the old mare was having a love affair with the alpha horse Tonto. For real. She was so pissed that we had taken her away for a moment that she neighed and pranced and sulked. We gave up eventually and she cantered back to the pasture where she began necking Tonto. Who knew? Horses get lovesick. The light was stunning, the vast valley a medley of golden grasses, snow dusted peaks, a glistening river. The historic cabins are wonderful. Elegant in their simplicity. We tried our hand at an old charcoal grill and enjoyed fabulous elk burgers. We savored a glass of wine by the wonderful teepees on a bluff overlooking the river with elk bugling in the field below. Not one modern sound. Nothing but birds, bugs, elk as the night sky emerged. I pinched myself as I took in the diamond blanket above and appreciated the joy of breathing in that clean mountain air and experiencing a magical place.