Gros Ventre Wilderness

Immediately adjacent to the Grand Teton National Park is a wilderness area that was formally established only 30 years ago.

A paved road from the east edge of Teton park leads into Gros Ventre (“groh-VAHNT”) Wilderness and provides comfortable access to many spectacular views of the area.

Our misfortune was to pick a day to visit when a quick storm blew up…just as we ran out of pavement…and the gravel road that continued into the wilderness area had substantial clay content, which made for treacherous driving along sheer cliffs above Lower Slide Lake!

Still, we got a nice taste for this special area….and managed one photo before the rain hit!DSC_9153

On our way back down into Teton park, we passed this little clearing and its three little structures. It was actually sprinkling, so I was moving fast to get these shots, but I never saw any description about their history.

It seems the walls were fairly sturdy, but the builder’s roofing skills needed more work…DSC_9156DSC_9157

By the time we got back into the park, the storm was gone and the sun was shining brightly again! We crossed Cottonwood Creek as it ran from the south end of Jenny Lake.DSC_9602

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Oh baby!

The vast fields of Teton park are kind to wild animals…especially mothers with young. There’s plenty of notice for most predators, especially photographers!

Ah, but sometimes you get lucky.

Actually, I’ve found the car to be good camouflage…animals don’t usually run from it…so I shoot from the open window. Or I can get out on the opposite side from the animal and shoot from behind the car.

It also helps to have a good, long lens.

No need to sneak up on bison…they know they own the place…but you’ll need the long lens to keep a safe distance!DSC_9525

Deer are infrequently seen in daylight, but this little sweetie and its mother were close enough to a little side road we were on, that I could shoot from the window.DSC_9907

Pronghorn antelope generally keep their distance, but this pair was on a mission and came near enough to the road that I could snap a shot. I actually kept driving slowly to match their speed in order to get this shot…mother kept herself between the car and her baby!DSC_0346

For this last shot, luck came along and tapped me on the shoulder. We were driving at dusk, and Robyn said “Moose!” I stopped the car, and she said “Over there, going the other way.”

I jumped out of the car, hoping to get a shot through the trees, but realized the animal was on a ridge that disappeared down a hill. Still, I walked back along the road, hoping to get lucky.

Then I heard crashing sounds in the woods…coming from the ridge direction…heading up the hill toward me.

Dusk. Large. Wild. Animal. Coming.

I started to back up toward the car.

Suddenly, she stepped into the fading light and looked right at me. I slowly raised the camera.

She kept moving…and baby came into my viewfinder!

Click.DSC_8244

Off the reservation

I say again, “Who knew this wide-open state of Wyoming could be so mountainous and interesting?”

We took a run into the next valley to the east.

Can’t do that in a straight line…mountains in the way. Took 104 miles to get over to Pinedale and the ridges above it, in order to gaze in wide wonder at the views it wrought.

I’ve always thought of Wyoming as flat grassland.DSC_8223

Right.

That was on the way to this view:DSC_8211

Loooong way down to that lake…see the boat and its white wake? Those mountains in the distance? They’re farther to the east from this spot, which would make them the fourth range of mountains we’ve encountered here….I think….kind of lost count.

On the other side of the ridge where I was standing was this view:DSC_8224

Wyoming’s got plenty of water….

Back closer to home, we made a short run into the mountains to the west of our valley. Much of that range is actually in Idaho. Took away this impression of it:DSC_8776

It’s almost hard to find a level spot to plant your feet and plant some crops!

Just south of our park is the town of Afton with the elk antler arch over the main street that it says is the world’s largest. I’m not into such pictures…afraid you’ll have to imagine it.

But we made a short run up into a nearby canyon that runs beside Swift Creek. Think I know where it gets its name.DSC_8258-2

Feeding into its waters was this sweet little waterfall!DSC_8250-2

As the darkness gathered on our way home to the coach, we had this reminder that God delights in giving us glorious scenery everywhere we turn:DSC_8753

Teton color

Big rocky mountains don’t bring to mind much about color…but it’s there.

Ohhhh, it’s there! Gotta look around. 

The early morning sun produces some extra color in what otherwise might be considered drab field grass.DSC_0336

One field on the north side of Antelope Flats Road is always noteworthy.DSC_8114

And down the lane on the way to Schwabachers Landing.DSC_8485-2

Really, color is more than shades from a palette…sometimes it’s the way you stand, or dress, or the jaunty manner about you…like this tree that seems to have endured a lightning bolt…still shoving those branches skyward, even the ones that no longer have life or nice color in them.DSC_9661

Or right up against the mountains, when they’re getting all colorful with dramatic cloud behavior, the ground cover provides soothing color to balance the scene.DSC_8701

Don’t forget, Grand Teton National Park is a big place…and not everything interesting exists within sight of those mountains. The water of Two Ocean Lake wasn’t much of a destination for us, because the area was soooo mosquito infested, but the roadway to get there went up, down, and around past field after field of lovely wildflowers!DSC_9584

Teton clouds

Every day, the clouds of Wyoming bring smiles to our faces!

These big skies produce great stuff to give texture to photographs.

But one day stood out…head and shoulders above the others…for the quantity and the photographic quality of clouds…we spent the day gazing in wide wonder, and moving around to have the most fun for photos!DSC_9635

Coincidentally, we often took shots that did not feature those great Teton mountains! The one above faces the opposite direction from Mt Moran. The next one faces away from the mountains, along the western shore of Spalding Bay, at the southern end of Jackson Lake.DSC_9644

I really hope you click on these photos to have them fill your screen, because the detail in the images provides sooo much enjoyment!

The next photo is the only one today to feature the Tetons. This shot was from the bridge across the dam that releases the Snake River to go onward with its journey. The tree at the far left is rather iconic for this view…its distinctive angle is noticeable in many photos that feature this expanse of water in front of the Tetons.DSC_9662

The Snake River at Oxbow Bend provides a glorious reflection of the Tetons, but on this day I felt the clouds above the opposing shoreline made a more compelling view….DSC_9682

Interestingly, the clouds changed quite a bit very near sundown. We were already on our way home (a 66 mile journey that took 90 minutes), but had to stop just outside Jackson for the following pastoral scene.DSC_9698

There is soooo much going on in this image! Those clouds are busy enough for two or three skies! There’s even a moon!

But wait, it wasn’t over! Maybe less dramatic, but just as complicated. Even the sliver moon became more prominent!DSC_9708

Those eyes

What a stroke of good luck…we ran across an owl during daylight!DSC_8571

A Great Gray Owl, that occasionally hunts in this same spot, according to a professional photographer who was taking it all in.

I was shocked to see how he hunted from this spot…just dove off the branch almost straight down…and got his prize!DSC_8638DSC_8587

Notice the strand of grass clutched by the mouse even in death…. The owl just flipped the mouse up, caught it in mid-air, and downed it in one gulp!DSC_8617

As he flew to another perch, my photo caught what looked like an antenna streaming down his back. Indeed, not only is this one banded on each leg, it carries a radio transmitter!DSC_8663

Finally, he just sat on the limb…and turned those big eyes on me….DSC_8648

Big valley

For our month in the Tetons, we decided to park the coach in a valley to the south rather than right near Jackson.

We wanted to explore more than Grand Teton National Park, and Star Valley would give us more flexibility for day trips.

Ho, ho, we had no idea how lovely the valley itself was!DSC_8267-2

What do you think of the view those people have in the red house?

But it’s more than a big valley. There are lots of farms, with all their colors and shapes:DSC_7945

And we found the interplay between the hills and the valley almost enchanting.DSC_7948

Compelling…you know, like you’d almost want to live here!

Then, the final straw:DSC_8006