Elena Bowes

New York-London travel writer of a certain vintage looking for meaning and wholeness in life

Boot Camp with Mel, Me and the Moose

January 11th, 2018
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Wanderings: US

Some people are cold weather people. Others are not. I fall into the latter category. I have bad circulation, am an intermediate skier at best and look horrible in snow hats. We won’t even go into ski helmets.

So when our family plus friends the Vere Nicolls voted unanimously (minus one vote) to go skiing this past Christmas, you would be right in assuming that I was channeling my inner Mother Theresa. Call me Saint Elena.

And if you have to sacrifice yourself for others, then why not do it at an Aman?  I highly recommend snow martyring at the Amangani in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Perched on a hill about twenty minutes outside of town, the Amangani has views galore,

a steaming après ski hot tub,

high quality masseurs and easy-to-work, soothing fireplaces in every room. Plus the staff are extremely helpful, friendly and patient.

I figured that St Elena would just spend the week enjoying the hotel, testing out the spa,

sipping cocoa and reading by the fire, while the others, poor fools, braved the elements.

Sadly, my hopes of an indoor ski vacation were not to be. Every morning my friend Melanie, who must have been in the SAS in a past life, insisted that we go cross-country skiing on lengthier and lengthier treks.

Melanie is a cold weather person. She is also very strong – mentally and physically. She does not scare easily. So signs like this:

or Instagrams like this:

or mysterious paw prints like this:

don’t phase her. Even the faintly tinged pink paw prints we saw didn’t scare her. (Sorry, I didn’t take any pics, I was on an adrenaline rush, focused solely on distancing myself from owner of paw prints.) Later when I asked Melanie if she’d seen the suspicious footmarks, she said nonchalantly,

Oh, I thought those belonged to a very big dog.

Dog had not occurred to me. Mountain lion, wolf, bear, moose, that’s what had occurred to me. Especially moose. Apparently, they are everywhere in Jackson.

So what does one do if one encounters  a moose? I conducted an informal survey (asked every single local I met), and here are some of the answers I got:

Run like hell

Running won’t help you. A moose can outrun anything.

Stay still

Make yourself look big

Play dead

Give ’em a wide berth

Climb the nearest tree

Well, no one’s died. This year.

These replies were not reassuring. Not one bit. I am not a wildlife lover. The closest I got to wildlife growing up was my turtle Myrtle. When Melanie and I would go cross country skiing, she was invariably way ahead of me in deserted snowy wilderness with a lot of easy-for-moose-to-hide-behind trees.

Stunning, isn’t it? she would shout over her shoulder.

Or after the pink paw print ordeal, which also included a freak storm, golf-ball sized hail stones and 50 mph winds, Melanie sighed,

Wasn’t that a spectacular day?

Yes, because it’s over, I thought.

Typical, I didn’t spot this backpack essential in the Amangani shop until the last day …

In the end, thanks to my friend’s forceful, confident character, (aka bossy) I decided that I do kind of like ski holidays – as long as there are absolutely no moose sightings – NOT ONE – and I get to pamper myself when I get back to the hotel, surviving and all.

January, 2018