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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Kade

Too much smoke to see the Tetons

Updated: Jan 10, 2021

Of course, the smoke has reached the Tetons as there is a fire now in Wyoming. If it weren't for the smoke and haze, it should have been a sunny day with no clouds. Oh well, it is 2020 and what else can you expect from this year. Today, we scoped out the area and did some walking along the Snake River. Believe it or not, it was 80 degrees (26.6 C ).

I wanted one picture of the Mormon barn with the Tetons in the background. No luck today. We know where it is, so I have a few more days to try again.

The T. A. Moulton Barn is a historic barn within the Mormon Row Historic District.

The barn is all that remains of the homestead built by Thomas Alma Moulton and his sons between about 1912 and 1945. It sits west of the road known as Mormon Row, in an area called Antelope Flats, between the towns of Kelly and Moose. Now lying within Grand Teton National Park, it is near the homestead of Andy Chambers. The property with the barn was one of the last parcels sold to the National Park Service by the Moulton family. Often photographed, the barn with the Teton Range in the background has become a symbol of Jackson Hole.

The day started out with breakfast at Persephone Aspens which was recommended to us. We both had the bacon and eggs with grilled bread and homemade peach jam. Amazing jam!!! They even asked how we wanted our bacon cooked: regular or crispy. They source local and use natural ingredients. They are proud to work with Reed's Dairy, Vertical Harvest, Huidekoper Ranch, Sweet Cheeks Meat, Red Bird and Snake River Farms, among others. Delicious food. I know we will stop in again while we are here.

I love their little motto. We live as we bake and we bake as we live: With heart, hard work and creativity.

"Through Persephone, we have found like-minds in the mountains, kindred spirits who care about food and design, nature and art. On our deck, we delight in overhearing conversation topics as wide and wonderfully Jackson as new albums and bear encounters. Every day, we draw inspiration from the deep well of talent in the Tetons, our team of loyal local employees, and the creativity of those who helped us realize our vision."

The pastry looked good so Michael needed to try something, of course.

He asked her what most people liked. She said the almond croissant and the cinnamon brioche.

He tried the cinnamon brioche. It did not disappoint! OMG!!!

These warning signs are everywhere!

Andy Chambers Homestead

"In 1912, the Andy Chambers homestead was the last land claim filed on Mormon Row. Chambers was granted title to his land in 1917 after building a log cabin and stable. He cultivated 20 acres of land and had laid out the logs for a 2-story, four-room home. Because this homestead was the last to be built in the community of Grovont (“Gros Ventre” was determined too hard to spell by the U.S. Postal Service) it is Mormon Row’s best preserved example of a working ranch. Only a portion of the original buildings remain on the other four homesteads that are still visible today.

Mormon Row is an excellent example of the linear villages established by the Mormons in the West. According to their church, villages were to be orderly and built from “permanent” materials such as stone and brick. In Jackson Hole there were several allowances made to these rules, as availability of materials and tools limited the type of construction that could be done. All original homestead cabins were simple logs with sod roofs and packed dirt floors. When the family could afford to construct a larger house, the old cabin was dismantled and the wood was used for a variety of other purposes. Some of it was used for fuel to heat the church and school, some became fencing and some was incorporated into the new house. Nothing was wasted."

"This small log and wood shingle house was built in the summer of 1916 by Andy Chambers. It was originally a two-room structure with two unfinished rooms on the second floor. A nursery and enclosed back porch were added to the building after 1945. The house served as a residence for the first few years until the Chambers family built a large, two-story wooden frame house. The construction of the new large house would have shifted the residential complex away from the agricultural infrastructure of the ranch. Most homesteads were divided in this way, with the “working” farm buildings being constructed apart from the residential buildings in order to separate the flow of the different activities. The original log house was converted to a bunkhouse for farm laborers when the Chambers family moved into their larger frame house.

This arrangement would unfortunately be short lived as the frame house burned to the ground in 1936. The old log house once again became the primary residence for the Chambers family. After Andy Chambers’ death in 1945, his son Roy purchased the adjacent Thomas Perry homestead and the residential complex shifted again as the family moved into the Perry home. The original log house now stands in what is a separated fenced yard of sorts, again removed from its association with the agricultural buildings to the north. The outhouse and pump house/garage have joined the log house in the residential complex. Even without the large frame house, this homestead still gives an accurate representation of what the entire Row would have looked like when it was still occupied."

"Built in 1917, the granary is an important part of the agricultural complex. It now stands outside the main fencing area, in a lot used and maintained by the National Park Service. This area creates a separate space that is now used to graze horses. The granary is an excellent reminder that this ranch was once used for hay production. Until the Kelly flood in 1927, the farms on the northern half of Mormon Row were dry farmed. This meant relying on natural rainfall to support your crops, as there was no reliable access to water. After the flood, Kelly Warm Springs began producing enough water to enable the men on Mormon Row to build a large irrigation ditch to service the community.

Water was a valuable resource in Jackson Hole. It dictated the pattern of settlement in the valley, and often determined whether or not a ranch would be successful. Those with access to good soil like Andy Chambers could survive, but the irrigation ditch was a welcome addition. Ranching on 160 acres was often a difficult task, as the acreage was rarely enough to support the working and residential building complexes along with enough land for raising hay and grazing cattle. Cattle were taken up into the mountains east of the Row during the summer months. When neighbors moved away, their homesteads were quickly purchased by those who remained. The vast grasslands surrounding these homesteads are a reminder of how much land they were able to clear and cultivate. While the sage is creeping back in, the agricultural landscape still dominates the terrain."

It snowed in this area last week. Tiny patches of snow still linger.

Michael and I decided to get some walking in so we headed to the Snake River. After traveling from its headwaters in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the Snake—which is designated a wild and scenic river by Congress—meanders southward out of Jackson Lake through the heart of Grand Teton National Park.  Many of the elk, mule deer and bison that call the area home water on the river and it's a daily occurrence to witness bald eagles gracefully fishing for their breakfast from the treetops.  Just south of the park, the Snake winds through a stretch of ranch lands before funneling into the narrow Snake River Canyon. When it reaches the Palouse Hills of Washington State, the Snake joins the Columbia River as its largest tributary and flows toward the Pacific Ocean.  

Many of the rafting excursions start in this area.

"Tell fishermen the world over that you've been to Jackson Hole and a jealous grin will cross their faces.  With access to countless holes, streams and the famous Snake River, of course, Jackson Hole is a classic anglers paradise.

The fine-spotted cutthroat trout is the Snake River's claim to fishing fame.  The "cutty," as it's known, is unique for a variety of reasons, though two stick out in the minds of fishermen: it is unique to the Snake River watershed and is particularly receptive to the carefully tied flies that fly fishermen use to cast.  

Though locals are reluctant to share the details of their favorite fishing hole, guide services and public access points abound for the out-of-town angler. Catch-and-release fishing is permitted year-round on the Snake River and each season brings unique challenges and rewards for the dedicated sportsman."

Many different paths branch off.

Can you see the crushed bark before the wood planks? When Michael lived in Switzerland he used to run on a 2 km running path made of crushed bark. You were asked to remove your shoes and run barefoot. Not me!

Any guesses on the number of cattle in these five pictures. I think I might have missed some, too.

Pretty flowers around our building. They must have taken them in last week when it snowed.

We had dinner at the Alpenhof's Alpenrose dining room.

We walked in the side entrance so I did not take a picture of the Alpenhof building.

"Alpenhof’s history goes back to the very beginning of Teton Village, which in 1965 first established Jackson Hole as a big-mountain destination ski resort, with an aerial tram to the top of Rendezvous Mountain. Developer Paul McCollister envisaged a European-style village like Switzerland Verbier at the base of the mountain, with a half-dozen owner-occupied-and-operated lodges.

Alpenhof is all that remains of McCollister’s original vision. The inn was built by the widely traveled New Jersey ski enthusiasts Dietrich and Anneliese Oberreit, who dreamed of running a lodge sensitive to their Swiss and Bavarian roots. To make up for their total lack of experience in the business, the Oberreits took correspondence courses in hotel management, and with the help of an architect supervised the building of Alpenhof. In the late spring of 1965, they packed their three children in the family station wagon, and moved stock and barrel to Jackson Hole.

Alpenhof opened in time for Christmas 1965 with 30 rooms –the first lodge in Teton Village. Over the next 20 years, the Oberreits added 10 more rooms and a ski shop. Peter Stiegler, brother of Teton ski school director Pepi Stiegler, served for a time as maitre d’hotel.

Among the Alpenhof’s most enthusiastic annual skiing guests were Ed and Susan Cunningham. A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Ed had skied all over Europe as well as America, and he instantly fell in love with the gemuetlichkeit created by the Oberreits at Teton Village.

Alpenhof also happened to fit his plan to acquire and operate inns having a special cachet –a collection of romantic places, as the Cunninghams call them. They started with a couple of inns –the Pelican and Mountain Home in California, followed by one in Scotland. As skiers, they wanted desperately to add Alpenhof to their mini-chain of exotic hostelries, but Oberreit for a long time was reluctant to sell. Finally, in 1988, he agreed to sell Alpenhof to the Cunninghams, who’ve since invested several million dollars in making the place, as Dietrich Oberreit says, “more Bavarian than we ever had it.”

As you enter the lobby and deposit your skis in the ski room immediately on one side, you cross to the reception desk, which is backed by antique European ski posters and surmounted by a quaint cuckoo clock. Room numbers on ceramic plaques, with floral decorations, adorn the doors. Here and there you spot a painted pine chest and a painted or carved antique Bauernschrank–a cupboard or closet about two meters high.

In the Bistro, a popular Teton Village après-ski hangout, cowbells and ceramic beer steins with pewter lids hang over the bar. The pride of the hotel is the Alpenrose dining room, with its tiled fireplace and bold flower-decorated corbels supporting the dark ceiling beams. The sound of polkas and Austrian folk and Schuhplattler music fills the room.

The hotel’s managers, Mark and Ann Johnson, host a weekly welcoming party for guests during ski season, with a dirndl-dressed employee serving glühwein and cheese fondue. Among the specialities served in the Alpenrose are Wiener and Jäeger Schnitzel, Wiener Rostbraten, Bauern Platte (assorted bratwurst and knochurst with sauerkraut), and Jäeger fondue (bison and elk)."

Michael and I decided to try the bratwurst fondue for two. Their Alpen fondue consists of: Gruyère and Emmenthler cheeses blended with white wine, completed with kirschwasser, served with bread and apples where the bratwurst fondue is the Alpen Fondue served with bread and apples and your choice of sliced smoked bison bratwurst or Wild Boar & Apricot bratwurst. We had the smoked bison. Delicious smoked bison.

If we were in Switzerland, we would be having fondue by now. It was delicious but the amount they gave only served one.

Michael likes his fondue with potatoes, also. Nice variety of potatoes but they were ice cold. I asked to have them sent back to the kitchen and be warmed in the microwave. We have had potatoes hot or room temperature but never ice cold.

Surprised to see a Swiss wine on the menu.

Neuchâtel is in the French section of Switzerland. I like a fondant wine with fondue but this was tasty.

Michael is really going to have to convince me to go back and try the Wiener Schnitzel: Veal medallion breaded, served with spätzle and Austrian red cabbage or the Jägerschnitzel: pork loin medallions sautéed in a wild mushroom sauce served with spätzle and red cabbage.

On the way back to our room, we passed the gondola. It was the last night for evening rides and it was free. Why not go!

The chair lift only went up part of the way. It there wasn't any smoke, the view would have been exceptional.

This would have been a beautiful spot to have something to eat and overlook the valley.

Looking up the mountain behind the restaurant. We were not sure what the pole was. Snow making? Something to do with avalanches? I will have to ask.

Hoping for the smoke to clear out in a day or two.

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