Have you ever wished so hard for something specific to happen on your vacation, that not only did it miraculously occur, but it did so at the very beginning, setting the tone for the rest of your vacation? That’s exactly what happened when my wife, Niki, and I recently spent time in Grand Teton National Park.
The Sought after Moose
Spotting and photographing a moose was high on our list of goals for our short stay in the park. And wouldn’t you know it, as soon as we parked our SUV near the entrance to our vacation rental, a female moose was munching on willows and weeds less than 25 feet from us! And we were rewarded even more a few days later when we saw a male moose, with his enormous rack, eating his way through some bushes on the side of the road.
Niki at Teton National Park
Teton National Park is just north of Jackson, WY and just south of Yellowstone National Park. Together, these two parks form one of the greatest locations on earth for diversity in landscapes, wildlife, and sheer beauty and majesty. Having been to Yellowstone only 18 months ago, we concentrated our time on absorbing the breathtaking landscape all around us. Our photographs include the awe-inspiring panoramic views, as well as the fine details that help make up the stunning surroundings.
From a visual perspective, the Teton range is at its most glorious when its peaks are reflected like glass in the rivers and ponds at their feet. But one must awake early, very early, like 4-4:30 am early, in order to observe this phenomenon. If you arrive shortly after sunrise, chances are good that the wind will have picked up and that the glassy views will have disappeared. You also will have missed the spectacular sunrises, which are often more intense than the sunsets in the Tetons.
Snake River Overlook
Our short nights were rewarded by the early morning views we took in at Oxbow Bend, the Snake River Overlook, Schwabacher’s Landing, and the Beaver Ponds. Hiking the hills of Jenny Lake afforded us grand views from up high, even as we dodged the rain drops and forged upward through the fog.
We also planned a dawn visit to the Mormon Barns, but instead found ourselves in their vicinity before, during, and after a powerful thunderstorm. The lighting at the barns was so amazing that we decided it couldn’t possibly be duplicated at any other time. Our timing for our visit was further rewarded by the presence of what some locals said was the greatest concentration of wild flowers in 30 years.
As if visiting one of our nation’s greatest national parks during the system’s 100th anniversary wasn’t enough, we preceded our trip to the Tetons by participating in a photography workshop, run by Jay Dickman and FirstLight Workshops, on Absaroka Ranch in Dubois, WY.
For five days we witnessed and documented a way of life unknown to folks like us that live in or near a big city. And it’s not just the older generation that gets up early and goes to bed earlier. There are plenty of young people that prefer what can be viewed as a simpler life.
And many of these youngsters are women, who engage in all aspects of running a ranch. They are not confined to kitchen and laundry duties. They play an equal role in herding the horses and cows to keeping the business affairs in order.
For 10 days we escaped the heat of the East Coast and the constant focus on politics that is a part of the daily focus in and around our nation’s capital.
But in the small towns and their nearby ranches in the West, life and work are the daily focus of the good people trying to eek out a living and maintaining a way of life that is dear to them. Below are links to my website and more photos of our visits to the Absaroka Ranch and Teton National Park.