“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”
We didn’t exactly climb a mountain to get this shot, but while I was still standing enthralled over the view at Oxbow Bend, Chris bent over and whispered (so as to not jar me out of my reverie, I’m sure) “I’m going to climb that hill across the road to get a different perspective.”
Sometime later (still hanging around at that view) he calls on my iPhone to say “Bring your wide angle lens and join me up here—the view is outstanding!” Dutiful wife that I am, no questions asked, I grab the camera and lens and go running . . . or rather, climbing. And yes, it WAS worth the effort.
So, if you haven’t noticed by now, sorting through all the photos I’ve already shown, the fall colors are in full swing here in the Tetons. We hit the jackpot for sure. Of course, scheduling us to be here for 2 weeks was done purposely to cover all bases (weather-wise, that is). Surely we would catch at least a part of the color. In fact, as it turned out, we came in with the start of the golden color and as we were leaving, so were the leaves. What a coup!
Whether hit with the full force of direct sunlight . . .
One of our base camps—we had three—was nicely nestled in a cottonwood grove lining the Gros Ventre River. Yes, those trees supplied the color too!
We had heard good things about taking a rafting trip down a particularly scenic section of the Snake River. We signed up and on a cool late September morning (some might call 35 degrees even cold) we were treated to more great scenery and glorious golden color—from water level perspective for a different view.
Speaking of water . . . Chris got his fair share of plenty! His Wyoming fishing license had gotten good use even before pulling into the Tetons. Sadly, with not a whole lot of success. But, ever the good sport, he was willing to give Teton waters a try. On several occasions. Outstanding scenery was a bonus. Less than successful outcomes were the results. Oh well. The efforts took him to plenty of interesting locations.
Who knew that there were the Red Hills hiding just east of the Teton Range? Another unexpected gift.
Another day we headed out, with our backs to the Teton Range. A scenic road, it followed the course of the Gros Ventre River. One of the quintessential westerns, Shane, was filmed in Grand Teton National Park in 1953. On this particular day we went searching for the exact location of some of the original buildings. With the three major Tetons towering in the background, this photo of Shane’s cabin is all that is left from the buildings featured in the movie.
Wildlife viewing in the Grand Tetons doesn’t take a second seat to the park’s mountain setting. I’d say it’s on an even footing. The traffic tie-ups might not be as common as you’ll find in neighboring Yellowstone, but you can be sure to see a collection of cars pulled off the road and people with cameras in hand at any given time of the day.
But to bag the really great shots of animals in their natural habitat without incurring the hordes following in their tracks, requires being an early riser and knowing the places to be.
Traveling in herds and roaming the sagebrush meadows, you never know exactly where the bison will be. Not prone to hide away in stands of trees or down by the riverside, just take a drive through some open country. A buffalo herd is not easy to miss.
The elk are plentiful in this park. As a matter of fact, the Teton/Yellowstone elk herd is one of the largest in the world. Numbering in the many thousands, they begin coming down from the high meadows in the Fall, migrating to the National Elk Refuge just north of Jackson. Elk are the only animals allowed to be hunted within the park and outlying areas, although the hunts are highly regulated. Needless to say, once the hunting season commences, the elk sightings become fewer and more difficult to get. Even when you do, they are generally a good distance away.
And then, there are the moose. Those great, ungainly creatures you don’t just happen to see in many places. But here in the Tetons you’ve got more than a decent chance. If you’ve done your homework and you’re willing to put in the time (early risers get their bull!), or you happen to be camping at the Gros Ventre Campground—reputably one of their favorite haunts. (We’ll testify to that).
Moose favor wet areas along riverbanks and streams. Find the stands of willows and you’ve found one of the moose’s favorite foraging grounds. Look for troops of people with their long-lens cameras and tripods in hand, and you know they are hot on a moose’s trail.
Take a quiet walk down some tree-lined path, close by a water’s edge. If you’re very lucky and have good eyesight, you might just have a rare sighting—both of you startling the other!
–Chris was the lucky photographer this time.
But, in the end, after all the good wildlife and glowing aspen shots, it would be the mountains that kept drawing me back. Whether early morning or the fading light of day, my heart and soul liked to linger in their presence.
Mt. Moran floating on early morning low-hanging clouds.
This post began with a quotation of John Muir’s, and I find it fitting to conclude with another. Give his words some careful thought—I can see a clear truth to them as I stand out here in the glory of the Tetons.
With one last look . . .