Winter has finally passed here in the Yellowstone Basin. I can’t tell you how nice it is to see the ground again… and the sun! I spent a good part of this winter studying some of the latest Nikon Cameras and it was time to step up to something new. I definitely wanted something with a fast frames rate and a camera that operates in lower light as well.
Although I was hoping for the release of the new 800 series camera I decided to pull the trigger and purchase the new D500 as I shoot so many moving things up here. This new Nikon camera is just as advertised and once I was able to get it to my front door I could not wait to get out and take some new pictures. The weather however did not cooperate until this past week when I finally got a window of clear weather. Although I was not able to get out as early as I wanted I did make it to one of my favorite spots to look for interesting things to share.
This morning I decided to go to the gym first and then head north with my favorite LARGE cup of morning coffee in my hand. I must say – I need to order two cups from now on or take a thermos… One is just never enough.
This time of the year the mountains are just starting to come alive. This morning I headed to Antelope Flats just north of Kelly Wyoming. The light was not what I wanted and there was very few animals to be found. One of my favorite animals to photograph is the Pronghorn Antelope. They are hard to get close enough to and they are FAST.
This big boy was checking me out and just as I was getting into a position where I would be on the right side of the light some tourists decided to speed down the road I was next to at an unacceptable speed thus forcing me to take these shots while I could. Even though these are not what I wanted I do get excited for this summer as I am sure to encounter my friends again on favorable lighting terms.
If you are ever to visit Jackson Hole this is a wonderful part of the valley to check out as you never know what you will find. Be sure to bring your camera and enjoy Jackson Hole through the lens of your camera. You just may run into some of the locals like the Antelope, Bison, Moose, Deer, Elk, and for sure the beautiful mountain vistas that abound in every direction. A great way to share a cup of Morning Coffee…
We woke up again this morning to another beautiful fall day here in the Yellowstone basin! But this morning unlike many of the ones over the past few weeks was really cold. As we pulled from our driveway this morning on our way to drop Brynn off at school the temp gauge was reading 28 degrees. By the time we got across the Snake River it was 25 degrees and even colder north of town.
The Snake River looked pretty cool as there was steam coming off of the water and for that to happen the air temp must be colder than the water. Trust me, the Snake River is not something to wade in this time of year as the water temperatures have dropped quite a bit. Anyway we dropped Brynn off and headed to the coffee shop and then north of town again.
Now forgive us as our camera was acting up this morning but I think you will enjoy our little adventure. We were alone this morning and the animals were right next to our truck at every turn. We took our time and sat and watched the three moose in the pics for quite some time. They were eating the sage next to the road and for the most part ignored us. Been then they decided to check us out and we rolled away as they headed to us. Very cool!
All in all we saw antelope, buffalo, moose, geese and most certainly some spectacular views of the valley. On this morning we passed through Kelly, Wyoming, past the entrance to the Gros Ventre canyon, over to Antelope flats and Mormon Row and then home again. Another great way to share a cup of java!
A few years back my son Brock and I took a day trip to Bozeman Montana to meet some very dear friends from the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation located in Montana. Donovan Sr, is an Assiniboine Elder who trained me how to make traditional Native American Pipes, (but that is for another blog post) and Uncle Loren. The short version is we met Donovan Sr. and Uncle Loren (we call him “Uncs”) to pick up some sacred pipe stone and a couple of new pipes, just completed by Donovan Sr., to take back to Jackson Hole to be photographed. We also picked up some pipe stone for ourselves as well as exchange some pipe stems, ideas, and friendship! The day in Bozeman ended in what we call a “Good Trade” day.
Our trip started early on a Saturday morning, leaving Jackson Hole at around 8:00am. After getting our coffee and a couple of bagels we hit the road. When traveling through this part of the country, which is sooo amazing and in a single round trip of about 450 miles one can experience everything the Rockies has to throw at you. The weather this Fall day was awesome, skies were clear blue and the sun was shining bright, and the temperature was perfect when we left town. There are a couple of ways you can make your way to Bozeman from Jackson, one through Yellowstone Park’s south entrance or head through Idaho, back into Montana, north through the very northwest corner of the park and finally past Big Sky Montana as you make your way down the Gallatin River into Bozeman.
From Jackson to Bozeman is about 214 miles (one way) over some of the most beautiful roads you can travel. We chose to head west over Teton Pass and into Idaho, then north along the west side of the Teton Range. You first travel through beautiful rolling hills where much of the russet potatoes are grown in Idaho, not to mention double row barley (which Anheuser Bush buys for their beer) and after you make a turn east in Ashton Idaho you eventually end up in West Yellowstone.
For those who are not familiar with Yellowstone Park, there are 4 entrances to the park. Jackson Hole to the south, Gardiner at the north, the east entrance which leads to Cody, Wyoming and the west entrance which is West Yellowstone (it’s a town). Some of you may be familiar with West Yellowstone as some of the premier fly fishing rivers in the world are in the area. The Madison river, the Firehole, Henry’s Fork, the Buffalo, the Gallatin and many more. This is truly Lewis and Clark country.
From West Yellowstone you head north toward Bozeman and you travel though the very northwest part of Yellowstone Park and you quickly pass over the Madison River eventually picking up and following the Gallatin river all the way into Bozemen. One important note here is that you pass right through a part of the park that suffered from the big fire in 1988. It is awesome to see how nature has recovered. You pass Big Sky Montana Ski Resort and other beautiful scenery. This is one of the most beautiful stretches of road to drive at any time of the year.
Once in Bozemen we had our little pow wow with friends, stopped at a few stores and headed home. When we left Bozeman the clouds had started to gather. The weather from Jackson to Bozeman had been perfect! Clear skies, very dry roads, an easy drive. But things were about to change. We headed back up the Gallatin to West Yellowstone. This part of the trip is about 90 miles. As we pulled into West Yellowstone, Brock said “Dad why don’t we go home through the park”. I said sure let’s do it. It is important to note that this is about 4:45pm MST and it is getting darker. It is important because this is animal hour in the park.
We entered the park and headed towards the Old Faithful Geyser basin. This part of the trip from West Yellowstone to home in Jackson is about 130 miles. This is when things started to change. We first ran head on into a male buffalo that decided my truck was bigger than he was. So he mosied off the road and into the pasture that sat along the Madison river. He was the first of hundreds we were to run into this day of travels through the park. And on top of it, it was starting to rain. I quickly looked at my temperature gauge and saw that the temp has dropped drastically to 38 degrees. This was important because at 38 degrees and below it will start to snow if the conditions are right.
As we got closer to Old Faithful we saw elk, and big herds of buffalo and we drove along the banks of the Madison River, simply awesome. By the time we got to Old Faithful Geyser Basin the temperature was down to 36 and still raining. And it was now getting pretty dark. Clouded skis and looking even darker towards Jackson. Along this stretch of the road you travel along the banks of the Firehole river for part of the way and it gets it name from all the thermal activity that it passes through. An amazing sight to see in its own right.
This is an beautiful part of the park and we tried to take some pictures before the light got too low. Almost everywhere you look you see geysers, fumaroles, steam, hot pools, bubbling mud, trees, animals, – awesome! We decided to pull over to take a short break and just take in this beautiful valley. But we did not stay long as the temperature continued to drop and I said to Brock we are about to get snowed on. But the ferocity of the change was not expected.
We headed south towards home and as we got down the road about 5 miles the temp dropped to around 32 and I said to Brock here it comes. And come it did! It did not flurry a bit or start real light – it just started snowing. Now in this part of the country you will cross the Continental Divide many times. And we were heading for one of those crossings at an elevation of 8391 feet above sea level. One other thing to note here – the park was void of people as it was close to closing so we were basically on our own.
The snowflakes started to increase in size and the volume at which they fell was speeding up. The road quickly disappeared and became totally white. The snow was accumulating at a rate that I estimated at over an 1-2 inches per hour maybe even more at times. We put the truck into four-wheel drive as we were not going anywhere without it. Our speed dropped to about 25 miles per hour and we are crawling our way through Yellowstone park in the middle of a snow storm all alone. When we left Jackson it was sunny and clear. In Bozeman it was starting to cloud up but still relatively warm. West Yellowstone it started to rain and now we were surrounded in white.
Our final stop before it got real dark and we made the final trek home was the pass where we cross over the Continental Divide. We stopped and took this last picture here. We got out of our truck and it was completely quite. Snow was falling straight down and you could hear it hit the trees, your clothing, the truck. It was coming down so thick that it would fall right into your mouth. If you have never experienced the complete quite of the forest and to see snow falling straight down and building up in front of your eyes you have missed one of heaven’s real treats!!
The light faded fast and Brock and I decided that if we did not get moving we may be spending the night here as the snow was already over a foot deep on the road. We slowly made our way to the south entrance of the park and as the roads started to clear we made our way home to Jackson. You actually leave Yellowstone Park and then make your way through parts of Teton National Park before you get into the Jackson area.
This was an amazing day for Brock and I – we spent it together as father and son, we shared lunch with friends and they we got to see God’s hand on our Mother Earth. We were kissed by her this day and left with a memory I shall never forget! WE WERE TRULY BLESSED THIS DAY!
One of the most iconic images from Jackson Hole is the Teton Range. Although I do not know the percentage – I would guess that most of the photos taken of the Tetons is a frontal shot that is taken from the general vicinity of Antelope Flats. What is so cool about the Tetons is the many faces it has when taken from different locations throughout the valley. Here is the picture of the day taken from a more northern approach. Enjoy and may it bring peace to your day! (click image to enlarge)
Another hot cup of coffee and a short road trip north of town. Fall is quickly starting to pass and winter is not far away. The weather was not the best for all these pictures but we found a few that we liked. Waiting for the first snow to get some shots of whats to come. Enjoy the slide show.
There simply are not words as to how fast this summer has gone. In the Rocky Mountain Region such as the Yellowstone Basin our summers are fairly short. Fall comes quickly and it is just about here. The leaves are starting to change and in just a week or two we will be in full blown Fall colors. A great time for pictures and I do not plan to miss this Fall like last. The picture above was one of my favorite from the Fall of 2012. This was taken at Black Tail Ponds and I am traveling up there every couple of days to make sure I get some good pics this year.
Just after Fall comes our long heavy winters and with winter comes some of the animals we see only for a few months each year. Below is a shot I took during the winter of 2012 – 2013. The big horn sheep are amazing to watch and this guy was one of my favorite. They will be arriving very soon and this winter I plan to take advantage of the opportunities to bring you some really cool shots. Enjoy…
Many of you know Teton Marketing because of the Native American Flutes they handcraft right here in Jackson Hole. Teton Marketing is growing and adding new products all the time. Recently they released their first hat that was primarily a hat to help spread the word about the company. Now they add a new hat that should appeal to everyone who lives or visits Jackson Hole.
High Altitude Designs from Teton Marketing is a new line of active wear clothing that people can use every day living here in Jackson Hole and beyond. Watch for the introduction of clothing, hats and more as they introduce them throughout the summer. Each clothing item will be branded with the Teton Marketing logo and appropriate taglines. All logos and taglines will be embroidered for a clean tasteful look. Teton Marketing hopes that you will enjoy each addition as they come available. The current Teton Marketing hats come from the Otto Collection and they are adjustable to fit any head. There are now offer three versions of the hats, all three versions feature variations of the Teton Marketing Logo, the website address, the Wyoming Bucking horse, the state name “Wyoming”, “Forever West” and of coarse “Jackson Hole”on the back of the cap. All of the current caps are jet black in color. These are very nice hats and all logos are embroidered, not silk screened. Each hat is $23.99 plus shipping. They are planning to add several more hat designs for those of you who love Jackson Hole Wyoming as much as they do. You can Get your Teton Marketing hat today at www.tetonmarketing.com.
About Their Logo
Inspired by the place they live. The Teton Range is truly one of the most inspiring mountain range in the world. Most people equate the Grand Tetons with Jackson Hole. Their Logo for Teton Marketing is their vision of what they see everyday. Like many of their flute fetishes that tend to be more whimsical, their logo falls comfortably in line with them. They tried to find a balance between a literal view of the range and their whimsical view. We think they accomplished this. Visit their website to see other products offered from Teton Marketing…
Jackson Hole Wyoming is truly an amazing place to visit, live and work. Most people when they think about visiting Jackson Hole will tell you that they think about the majesty of the Teton Mountain Range, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone Park, the wildlife plus all of the amazing thermal activity found just north of town. Whitewater rafting, hiking, tram rides, fishing and of course eating at one of the many fine eateries Jackson has to offer. Truthfully Jackson Hole Wyoming is a magical place for those who love the outdoors and appreciate the finest that God has to offer.
For those of you seeking a little taste of the old west while visiting Jackson Hole, set aside an evening and go to the Jackson Hole Rodeo. This is a truly an evening event worth spending time with your family. This is the real deal folks – for more than 100+ years the Jackson Hole Rodeo has been an integral part of Jackson Hole and the old west. For 2+ hours the Wilson family (5th generations Jackson Hole) will entertain you with brave young men who attempt to master the backs of bulls and broncs, while mostly the girls take to the backs of their quickest horse for a shot at being the fastest around the barrels.
If you have never been to a real rodeo you are in for a treat. A real piece of Americana that will not only make you proud to be an American but the Jackson Hole Rodeo will keep you on the edge of your seat for the entire evening. But the real story that I find at the rodeo is not the spectacle that takes place within the arena but what takes place behind the bucking chutes. Boys and men of all ages getting prepared to take their shot at making the 8 second ride into glory. And I mean all ages! There are boys as young as 4 years old getting their first rides all the way up to men in their late 40’s. And that alone is amazing to me as this is really a young mans sport.
Bravery comes in many forms but make no mistake, it takes a man with an incredible constitution to climb on the back of one of these very large and dangerous animals. Behind the chutes you will find these brave young men going through all kinds of rituals as they get ready for their rides. Some are jumping up and down trying to shake off their fears, others practice their ride by sitting on their bronc saddles while they lay on the floorboards of the chute area. Others walk around talking to themselves as if they are trying to convince one half of their other personality everything is ok while the other half is telling them NOT TO GO. These men, and I mean men, come from long distances and they pay a handsome fee to ride and compete for the best score. Most of them are clearly friends that come from the many ranches around the states of Idaho, Montana and of coarse, Wyoming.
As you mingle behind the chutes and fade into the background you can watch these men prepare themselves both physically and mentally for their next ride. You can see the grit and determination, the desire, hunger, fear, concerns, the focus they seek preparing themselves for their upcoming turn in the chutes. They pat each other on the back, high fives, words of encouragement, a nervous chuckle and for some just a simple stare into the eyes of one of their close friends looking for that simple smirk of encouragement and support. There is only constant support for those who are about to ride. No, behind these chutes is no place for a weak man.
Contrary to what many might think, these brave souls come in all shapes and sizes. young men with boyish faces, men with that expected cowboy look, men with scars, casts, slings, limps all giving testimony to earlier events. Many of them ride at least twice a week at this rodeo alone. When you are privileged to be part of this behind the chutes environment you gain a new respect for todays cowboys. They are a breath of fresh air in my opinion as they give testimony and carry on in the tradition of the old west and those men who came before them.
Yes I say – go to the rodeo and I promise you that you will enjoy an event that will leave you with a certain sense pride that only comes with being an American. The rodeo arena is an exciting place to watch all this unfold. A place where America’s truly most original sport was born and 8 seconds of sheer terror takes place right in front of your eyes. Watch with amazement as each young man climbs onto the back of their bull, their bronc, their ride that will surely come. For these men who ride, ride for both themselves as much as they ride for your entertainment. To do this comes only with a passion that is ingrained in the cowboy tradition that still lives on today right here in Jackson Hole Wyoming. These young men and women come to this event with the strong need to participate in this American sport. And yes courage and honor exist right here behind the bucking chutes of American Rodeo.