Tetons in early May
The route I regularly take to Yellowstone means passing through the Tetons, this trip was no exception. Looks like they had a good winter and the later snow added to the cover.
The drive into Yellowstone is always interesting and it was a great day for it.
Mammoth Hot Springs cg is good place to use as a base for visiting Lamar Valley. The Bison calves are old enough to be easily seen, they’re often called “red dogs” at this stage. I was surprised to see the Pronghorn Antelope so frequently. In the past they have seemed pretty skittish but not this year. Of course there were some bears out, but they were generally so far away a spotting scope was needed. I did see sow with 2 cubs,and took a few images,but they are greatly cropped.
There were quite a few elk cows around but it did’t look like they had started calving yet. Back in the campground one elk cow has been chasing people around. Turns out she has good reason to be concerned, she has a very new little wobbly calf. She was very near my trailer when I took a series of images yesterday. She’s moved to the far end of the campground but i’m always on the lookout inn case she comes back this way.
After seeing some bears but too far away to photograph decently i decided to invest in a good spotting scope. I figure even if I can’t photograph the critters I’ll be able to watch them, something I really enjoy. Once I settled in the one I wanted I found for a little more I could get an attachment to take photos with my iPhone. Mind you nothing has arrived yet and there will be a learning curve. The photos I get, if any, will be fun ones, not serious stuff. It should be interesting as the trip progresses.
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From Yellowstone I headed back to the Tetons for several days, hoping to find some moose. Second night I was there it was very clear so I headed up to Ox Bow Bend to see if I could capture the Milky Way over the water. All the while I was there I heard Elk bugling.
The moose were around. First morning at Gros Ventre as I was putting on my shoes my youngest (and most watchful) dog started barking at something outside one of the side windows. I got up to look and was face to face with a moose cow that was under the awning looking at me. Yikes!! No chance to get a photo, either! I made certain she was gone before opening the door with the dogs. Sure enough she and a mother cow were a ways behind the trailer so I hurried the dogs in the opposite direction and hoped they wouldn’t notice the moose. They didn’t so all wen well. Once they were back in the trailer and fed I grabbed my camera and headed for the river since the moose were likely to head that way. Sure enough, but with the 2 cows and a bull somewhere around it was also a bit spooky in the willows. Fortunately there weren’t any close encounters and I did capture this young bull crossing the river.
At one point I turned and captured a mule deer who came down to the river.
That was it for the moose until a few days later I was headed out and came across some folks watching a cow, calf and bull at a creek. Managed to get a few images of them.
A couple of days later there were 3 cows and a bull in the campground so I spent several hours watching them. I find it so interesting to watch them interact. When I got there they were all laid down, but eventually they got up and then it got interesting. They all keep an eye on each other, if one cow got near the bull another cam trotting over, but that second one had run away when approached by him. With them all moving about we had to keep our eyes on all of them so we weren’t in their way and didn’t upset them. To be honest watching moose takes a lot of patience, they seem to spend a lot more time laying down than moving around. But for me it’s worth it.
The weather turned very cold, with my down jacket and wind pants being the norm when I went outside. It was also liable to spit snow at any time. After one such day I went over to the well known barn on Mormon Row, the snowy Tetons made a nice backdrop for it.
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On my way to Yellowstone I stopped in the Tetons for only 4 nights. Got another great site at Gros Ventre CG. There is a lot of smoke around, sometimes you could be at the south end of the Tetons and couldn’t even see the north end of the range. Last year the fires were raging in both Yellowstone and GTNP, this year they are not in the parks but still affecting them.
The second night I was there it was wonderfully clear so I went out to see what I could photograph. First stop was one of the old Mormon barns. There were a couple of guys there already and they were using some LED flashlights to light the barn. Not the best light since it tends to be a very cold white but I warmed it up a bit in the processing.
The night was so clear I wanted to take advantage of it so I headed down to Schwabacher’s Landing unsure if the setting would work or not. Yes! Just the spot to capture the Milky Way over the calm waters.
From Utah I headed north to Gros Ventre campground in Grant Tetons NP, just outside Jackson, WY. It was cold and snowy two days but the solar worked great keeping the trailer battery charged along with other stuff. Didn’t see any moose, but I did spend a bit of time at Schwabacher’s Landing, capturing a beaver, muskrat and some sort of interesting bird.
The snow fell mostly two mornings but once it stopped the roads were clear and dry. I took advantage of that and managed to get a few unique images.
As always it is interesting to photograph one of the old Mormon barns, the sunsets are never the same.
Last day I was there I finally got to see a bear.
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Tuesday morning I met up with a fellow photographer I’d met at Bosque del Apache and he
Milky Way over String Lake and the Tetons
kindly showed me one of his favorite locations in the area along with lots of tips about other places to go for wildlife. He also suggested I try String Lake for some night images. That night was wonderfully clear and the images I got are special.
Wednesday was full of moose. After feeding and walking the dogs I spotted a young bull in the area behind the trailer so I grabbed the camera and tripod. One of the fellows already out there said the big bull was laid down nearby. As I carefully went across the area I spotted another young bull and two cows. Wow, all the ingredients for action there! The moose spend a lot of time laid down with little
Young bull moose tempting fate
action going on but eventually the big bull did a good job of chasing one of the young bulls away, the other one left on its own. Another cow joined the other 2 and all the animals laid down, again. After 4 hours I quit and went back to the trailer for some food and to get some stuff done. Later I went back out and found the big bull and 3 cows laid down with one of the young bulls still close by. Eventually he wandered right over near the others and the big bull chased him up into the campground. I wasn’t in a good spot for any of the chasing shots, but managed to get a few other images.
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Heading back to the trailer after some shopping in town I saw folks hanging around a campsite…..naturally I slowed down to see what the attraction was. There in the shade was a bull moose and close by was a cow, also taking her ease. Since I had my camera in the truck I pulled into an empty campsite and got my gear out. The people who had the campsite were not there so I walked to the back of their trailer and used it as a blind.
I had nothing planned and figured I could wait them out. Eventually she got up and after a bit he did, too. He was definitely interested in her and slowly tried to work it out with her. For us bystanders it appeared to be a very slow and rather indecisive process but so very interesting to see the interaction. We can only assume they decided an audience wasn’t what they wanted. They moved a short way across the field and then laid down again. All told I think I watched them over 4 hours before I gave up and went back to the trailer to feed the dogs. They’re probably still around somewhere close by so maybe I’ll see them again.
Sunset over the Tetons
A colorful sunset over the Tetons is always a delight. After spending a long time at the riverside hoping to see some moose I gave up, threw the camera gear in the truck and headed out since it looked like there might be a good sunset. Turns out the gamble paid off!
I was up very early the next morning and caught the sunrise lighting up the Tetons and then happened on some bison that were still frosty from the cold night. While driving around or
being stopped I’ve also seen two foxes and two coyotes.
The night of the full moon it was very clear so I headed out to see what a couple of places
Full moon light on the barn on Mormon Row with the Tetons and Big Dipper
looked like in the moonlight. First stop was the iconic barn on Mormon Row with the Tetons behind it.
After that I went to another spot on a hunch. On a good day the
Full moon light at Schwabacher’s Landing with Tetons and Big Dipper
Tetons are reflected in the river and I thought if things came together right the moonlit Tetons would be reflected in the river. Sure enough, they were!
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