JHSC Club and Community Nordic Update
Happenings of the JHSC Nordic Program, Trail Creek Nordic Center, and Local Nordic Community
Welcome to the January Edition of “What’s Going On” for the 2022-2023 season!
Happy New Year from the JHSC Nordic program and Trail Creek Nordic Center! As we roll into January, things are going to get really busy at Trail Creek. All seven of our teams will be training beginning January 2nd. After school, especially on Mondays and Wednesdays, things get rather crazy at Trail Creek. The weekly schedule is below.
Lollipoppers, Teewinots, and Ositos
Lollipoppers, Teewinots, and Ositos will get started on January 2nd with programs running at capacity. The kindergarten and first grade Lollipoppers meet either Monday or Wednesday with Coach Kathy and crew, the second and third grade Teewinots meet with Coach Libby and crew on both Mondays and Wednesdays, and the third through fifth grade Ositos sponsored by Coombs Outdoors meet with Coach Miles Yazzolino at Trail Creek on most Tuesdays and Thursdays into March. It is fun and a joy to see our smallest skiers developing mastery of Nordic skiing!
A ton of snow helped the Development team have the best December in years. We could focus on technique early in the month while still having fun every day. The Devos took advantage of the early snow to ski powder and go on several Classic adventure ski tours, which are a staple of the Development team; off-trail adventure skiing challenges the athletes to learn independently. The kids practice and discover their abilities as the team skis around trees, over logs, up and down hills, and all through the wooded parts of our trail system. We plan to continue adventure skiing throughout the season.
Relay races and games are also a big part of the Devo curriculum. These activities build teamwork and sportsmanship. Relays and games are great ways to work on agility, and by competing on one ski, a game becomes a fun balance and weight-transfer drill.
January will continue with a combination of games, drills, and technique work, with the addition of obstacle courses and scavenger hunts. We learned the basic techniques of both skate and classic in December, and in January, we will practice these techniques and learn how best to use them in varied terrain.
The Development team is gaining endurance, and in January, we will travel far and wide at Trail Creek and out into the National Forest. Congratulations to everyone who raced in the Betty Woolsey Classic. It was a tricky day for waxing, so anyone who came out and skied should feel like a winner.
Development Team Head Coach
Junior Nordic athletes have been training hard, and enjoying all the snow we have gotten throughout the early winter! We are so fortunate, and are doing our best to take full advantage of all this on-snow time!
We have competed in two events; the Targhee Tune Up, and the Betty Woolsey Classic. Also, Charlie von Maur Newcomb represented the Junior team in Sun Valley at the Intermountain Opener with a 1st place finish and a 2nd place in the U14 boys division. Athletes have given it their all and looked strong throughout.
It is fun to see athletes progress throughout the season, and we are looking forward to more racing in January and February. With all the fresh snow, we have had no shortage of jumping sessions either.
Keep on keeping on!
Junior Nordic Team Head Coach
The Prep/Comp Team has had an amazing start to the season! We have been lucky to have great snow, committed athletes, and some great racing already this winter and it isn't even January yet...
The Prep/Comp Team raced at the Targhee Tune-Up the first week of December then went to Sun Valley for some huge racing at the combined Supertour/IMD Opener. We had many podium performances from age classes from U14s to U16s and U18s, and many other notable performances in between. Our athletes have been training very hard for over six months at this point, and their hard work definitely shows.
The Sun Valley races took place in the middle of a huge blizzard, and our athletes hung tough and gritted out some amazing races while others were letting the elements get to them. Trying to Nordic race in 1 inch/hour snowfall is extremely difficult both physically and mentally. The entire coaching staff was proud of how everybody performed!
The next races coming up on the calendar are WY high school weekends in Casper and Lander followed by the Super Qualifier in Soldier Hollow, UT. This is an annual event making its comeback after COVID that brings skiers from throughout the American West to compete on the Olympic trails from 2002. These races will be a perfect test for the Juniors as well!
After that, the season kicks off in earnest with many races every weekend to watch and follow along. It only gets busier from here!
Head Coach and Nordic Program Director
Our 2022-23 season is off to a great start! We have already been skiing at Trail Creek for almost two months, the athletes are skiing great, and we have an amazing coaching staff this season. We have seen some fantastic events already happening this year including the Targhee Tune-Up, the Supertour/IMD Opener races in Sun Valley, and the Betty Woolsey Classic at Trail Creek.
One of the main themes of this year so far has been great participation in races from our younger age classes, especially Devos and Juniors! We have seen an amazing amount of participation in the youth distances for the Tune-Up and the Betty Woolsey Classic with over 20 JHSC athletes in the shorter races. The future is bright for JHSC Nordic and the ski community in general.
We are seeing some great skiing from the Junior skiers at our joint practices, which is partially due to the early snow but also the time spent on roller skis this fall and the general high level of commitment from our Junior and Devo athletes this year!
Next up we will have a lull in competitions but our younger Lollipopper, Teewinot, and Ositos teams will roar to life right after the New Year. Look forward to dozens more Nordic skiers at Trail Creek every Monday and Wednesday.
Head Coach and Nordic Program Director
Our very own devoted Devo Coach Rob Murphy, besides being an avid Nordic skier who has completed the world famous Birkebeiner in Norway as well as many other epic races, has a passionate interest in the history of the valley. One of his recent projects was an article for the Jackson Hole Historical Society & Museum about the roadhouses on Teton Pass. Since this area is where we ski, this historical perspective makes a great contribution to our January newsletter. You can read the original post at this link or just read on below.
TETON PASS ROADHOUSES
By Rob Murphy
A trip to Jackson Hole at the beginning of the 20th century might include a stopover at one of the many roadhouses along the way. While much of the nation modernized, Jackson remained the “old west,” with horse and wagon the primary method of travel. One of the reasons settling in Jackson Hole happened late, more than 20 years after the Homestead Act, was that it was so difficult to get here. As Jackson pioneer Noble Gregory, Sr. remembered, “…the roads was Indian Trails.”1
It is hard to conceive today, but in the early 1900s, the easiest way into Jackson Hole was over Teton Pass. The Harris-Dunn mining company had improved the Teton Pass Road in 1894 to bring heavy equipment and a sawmill into the valley.2
The Snake River and Hoback canyons had only treacherous trails barely passable much of the year. Although the Army improved the road from Dubois to Moran in 1898, Togwotee Pass remained a rough trail until the construction of the Togwotee Pass Road in 1920. In the early years of recreational travel, as Jackson Hole became a destination and a gateway to Yellowstone National Park, Teton Pass became a major artery and the best way into the valley.
Traveling to Jackson Hole before 1912, a family might take a train to St. Anthony or Ashton, Idaho. They could meet the stage there, and travel by horse and wagon to Driggs and Victor, and on to Teton Pass. The Oregon Short Line Railroad was extended to Driggs in 1912 and then to Victor in 1914, shortening the wagon ride.
Beyond Victor, the trip went up towards Coal Creek, where weary travelers might stay at theBircher Roadhouse, built by former Teton Pass mail carrier John Bircher in 1906. Bircher was among many people in early Jackson Hole who loved and cared for the Pass. In 1900, Bircher carried the mail twice a week, year-round from Victor to Wilson. He then took on the daily mail route in 1901 and married Sarah Rebecca Bowles. John and Sarah Bircher lived on a homestead south of Wilson before starting their Roadhouse at Coal Creek.3
The Bircher’s Roadhouse started out serving travelers with horses and wagons. The couple raised their family here, and their kids went to school in Victor. A visitor remembered that only curtains divided the upstairs rooms in the early Roadhouse.4 Bircher also built a sawmill and
by the early 1920s, their business had shifted to serving cars and trucks. Construction of the new road (what we now call the Old Pass Road) began in 1913 and the road opened on July 25, 1918. This new road carried horses and wagons, cars and cattle.
The next stop on the way to Jackson Hole might be the Summit Roadhouse, built in 1908. John andSarah’s son, Wesley Bircher, worked at the Summit Roadhouse and kept fresh horses on top of the Pass.5
Teams of four to eight giant workhorses were required to haul the wagons. Before the construction of the road, and depending on the size of the load, weather, and other difficulties, the trip from Coal Creek to the summit could take one or two days.
Through the 1930s, the Cherry family and Harry and Blanche Scott offered a warm meal, a place to sleep, and fresh horses in this small Roadhouse. Just below the Roadhouse was a barn and stalls for the horses. The Scott family was known for the welcome shown to guests and travelers. Harry worked daily to clear and pack the snow from both sides of the summit and was considered a dependable and hard worker. Tragically, he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound many years later at his house in Victor.6
At the foot of the Pass, a third Roadhouse offered food, lodging and horses. Forest Supervisor Louis Lockwood built a Roadhouse on his homestead near where Trail Creek Ranch is today. He sadly passed soon after.
The Roadhouse was sold to Tom Lee in 1910, who sold it to Frank Crandall, who operated the Crandall Roadhouse. Frank then leased the Roadhouse to future U.S. Commissioner A. N. Davis and business partner Austin Bean in 1914, and it became known as the Davis Bean Roadhouse.7
A visitor to the Davis Bean Roadhouse recalled old newspapers papering the walls. As with most roadhouses, meals were served family-style on large tables with benches. Like other roadhouses, the establishment changed with the times and, by the 1930s, advertised that they had room for 2,000 head of cattle to rest on the way to the stock car train in Victor. Further down the Pass in Wilson, there were several hotels, including at various times: Nick Wilson’s Hotel with seven bedrooms established in 1899, the McCoy’s Hotel, and the Ward Hotel.
The bygone era of roadhouses, famous for their family hospitality, helped to set the tone for the Jackson Hole of today. From homesteaders with an extra room to hotels with a saloon and rooms to let, the roadhouse became a fixture on the road to Jackson Hole. Dude ranches, lodges, hotels, and cabins in Jackson all emerged from this early start.
1. Jackson Hole Guide, Sept 25, 1952.
2. Doris B. Platts, The Pass: Historic Teton Pass and Wilson, Wyoming
(Wilson, Platts, 1988), p. 23.
3. Jackson’s Hole Courier, Jan 16, 1947.
4. The Pass, p. 46.
5. The Pass, p. 92.
6. Jackson Hole Guide, Aug 31, 1950.
7. Jackson’s Hole Courier, Jan. 15, 1920.
Teton Pass Roadhouse: An Oral History
With Maude Foster Bircher
Maude Foster Bircher was born and raised in Wilson to homesteading parents Effie May and Ulysses Foster. An accomplished horsewoman, she grew up working on her family’s ranch. In 1924, she married Wesley Bircher of Victor, Idaho.
Wesley’s family operated the Bircher sawmill on Coal Creek and the Bircher Roadhouse on Teton Pass. Soon after marrying, they ran a midway station on the top of Teton Pass for a number of years, where they serviced freight wagons traveling over the pass before settling in the valley.
JHHSM Narrator: And didn’t you tell us before that you, uh, lived out by the weigh station for a time?
Maude: His folks did, uh-huh. Wesley and I was there one winter after we were married, and then we were on top of the hill, the top of Teton Pass one winter, and took care of a place there where they changed teams and sleighs and things, and hauling down passengers over Teton Pass in the wintertime. And my job there was to cook for the passengers that they hauled. It was kind of interesting.
JHHSM Narrator: Did they change horses up on top?
MB: They changed sleighs.
JHHSM Narrator: Oh, sleighs.
MB: They came up with horses from Victor, and they came up with horses from Jackson, and on top they just changed sleighs and took them back the other way. The next day they reversed the procedure. So there was a lot of freight that was hauled into Jackson Hole at that time, and there was quite a lot of passengers who rode down there. But they – all the gasoline and things like that, that
came in here, they were just beginning to use gasoline in Jackson and that was hauled in and a lot of times it was transferred down where they started up the mountain, the steeper part of the mountain, then they would have to put on extra horses on the sleigh to haul that because it was so much heavier.
So they had quite a lot of difficulties getting to Jackson – gasoline into Jackson in 50-gallon barrels, that’s what it was all in for a long time. Then the next year after we were up there they, that summer, they started using trucks on the road instead of so many wagons, and then that winter they, oh, sort of kept the roads open most of the time. It took a long time before they had them to where they are now.
ABOUT ROB MURPHY
Like many of us, Rob Murphy came to the Jackson Hole
valley in the 1980s for the skiing. An avid Nordic skier with
a lifelong love of history, he continues to enjoy the many
outdoor recreational activities in the area. With a focus on
environmental history, Rob received a Master’s Degree in
History from Arizona State University in 2020. Rob is the
father of two children and lives in Wilson.
December has been a busy month in the Nordic world. The racing season started off on December 3rd with the Targhee Tune Up, where many of our JHSC skiers had great showings. Results are posted here
IMD racing started full speed December 8-11 with the Sun Valley Supertour in Idaho. Results for the season opener are available on the event website. High school racing was cruising ahead as well with races in Laramie and Pinedale with results from those races being available on the Wyopreps.com skiing website.
Finally we just completed a successful Betty Woolsey Classic Race with 106 skiers kicking and gliding around the beautiful course at Trail Creek. All the results can be viewed on the event page.
The snow just keeps on coming at Trail Creek, with the nearby Phillips Bench snow reporting station reporting 117% of normal for December 26th. The forecast looks like nothing but continued snow for the foreseeable future. Grooming actually began even before our official opening day of November 15th and looks to continue for a full season.
With JHSC youth and master programs at capacity, things have been very busy, especially in the after-school weekday periods, and things will only get crazier in January when the Lollipopper, Teewinots, and Ositos are all on snow.
The winter has not been without its challenges: while grooming in December with our nearly new Husky, it shut down on the trail in East Field woods. Shortly thereafter, a Mercedes technician was on site, attempting to diagnose what had happened to the Mercedes diesel engine in our Prinoth Husky.
The verdict later confirmed in the shop was that the engine drive train, which transfers motion from the crankshaft to the cam shafts and other components in the engine, had failed and a new engine was needed. A monumental effort by Prinoth staff, local hauling companies, a borrowed snow cat from Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, and Trail Creek staff managed to tow our Husky off the course, onto a truck, and off to the local Mercedes diesel engine shop in Rock Springs, Wyoming.
While Mercedes was having trouble expediting an engine from the factory in Italy to the United States, Prinoth stepped in, and an engine has been shipped to customs in Quebec from where it will travel to Salt Lake City and then on to Rock Springs. Hopefully the Husky will return to service in less than two weeks.
In the meantime Prinoth authorized us to contract Valley Landscape Service’s Pisten Bully for grooming until they deliver a loaner Husky, which we are expecting in the very near future. At that point grooming will be able to return to full normal, just in time for the busy January schedule.
Our beloved animals have been very much in attendance at Trail Creek. A friendly fox/foxes can be seen regularly in the fields, making their famous flying leaps and plunging their muzzles into the snow in search of tasty rodent morsels. The moose population, while a bit lighter than the previous year, with no twin pairs of calves yet, does have several cow calf pairs and a couple of bulls, one quite large, have been spotted as well.
We want to apologize for any inconvenience our equipment issues have caused and thank you for your continued support, which allows this incredible thing of JHSC Nordic and Trail Creek Nordic Center to happen. If you’ve not renewed your membership yet, it would be much appreciated—just go to the Trail Creek Nordic Center page and get it done!
Nordic events are full speed ahead in January. Our Nordic Recreational Masters program meets at either Trail Creek or Teton Pines on Thursdays throughout the month and beyond. Masters have another chance to classic ski at the Teton Ridge Classic Race at Grand Targhee on January 7th.
One of the epic local events, the JH Nordic Free Day at Turpin Meadow Ranch, is Sunday January 8th, so be sure to mark your calendar for that one and make it a great day.
A select group of IMD skiers will be headed to Houghton Michigan for the December 31st through January 7th US National Cross Country Ski Championships. All IMD racers will be skiing really fast at Soldier Hollow, Utah January 20-21 at the IMD qualifier, and high school racers will compete in Casper January 6-7, Lander January 13-14, and again in Casper on January 27-28.
Finally recreational skiers have additional fun opportunities at the Spud Chase January 21st at Teton Reserve Nordic Trails and the Pinedale Stampede on January 28th.
Keep those skis waxed and keep on skiing! Click on the image below to go to the full calendar, complete with clickable links.
Thanks so much to the skiers and sponsors who make this all possible, with an extra special thanks to our season pass holders!
Thanks to our dedicated members!
Abraham-Davis Family, David Adams Family, Chris Baker, Bitzer Family, Brigham Family, Beth Burrough, Broughton Coburn, Curtis-Adams Family, Cutler Family, Lori Fields, Gingery Family, Bob Gordon, Parker Gotham, Gross Family, Cynthia Hogan, Maggie Hunt, Maddie Krasula, Lee-Clegg Family, Nancy Leon, Lovett Family, MacWilliams Family, Gigi Mahood, Maria Mahood, Ann Makley, O'Brien Family, William Oliphant, Teya Paciulli, Kristy Rans, Kerri Ratcliff, Reimer Family, Roll Family, Sheafor Family, Roger Smith, Springer Family, Carson Stanwood, Thal Family, Brian Van Hatten, Wakeman Family, Charlotte Walker, Ellie Wheeler, White & Wilson Family, Chris Wimberg, Pete Wiswell, Yeo Family, and Sita Jo Yeomans.
Thanks to our amazing staff!
Kirsys Campbell, George Cartwright, Andy Cavallaro, Jon Filardo, Rody Hagen, Libby Hall, Lauri Harris, Lauren Hugo, Lizzie Johnson, Ann Makley, Amelia Mayer, Bill Mayer, Ben Morley, Rob Murphy, Kathy Neiley, Mark Newcomb, Dennis Oney, Connor Phillips, Johnny Springer, Luna Wasson, Will Wicherski, Calvin Wight, Matt Wiseman , and Tyra (JT) Wynn (plus any others that aren’t on the list).
Thank you to the multitude of youth athletes, for whom this program is designed and would be impossible without their dedication and support!
A special thanks to Jackson Hole Nordic for being a strong supporter of our programs.