This morning as we got ready for our morning journey into Jackson Hole I filled my cup twice… once for a quick wake up cup and a second time to fill my thermos cup before heading out. We were heading into Jackson Hole for a very very important appointment… that is to say Peyton had an appointment with her favorite hair salon…Tori’s Salon. As usual I made the choice to find other things to do while she was beautifying her locks… So I with camera in tow headed to a local coffee shop for a refill and then north out of town.
It was late morning already and the sky was clear and bright so not really the best light for picture taking although stunningly beautiful in all directions. Where should I go I thought and the next thing I knew I was headed up the Gros Ventre River. This river runs a long ways back into the wilderness. Over 74 miles long it is. It’s final destination is a meet up with the Snake River. The Gros Ventre river drainage was at one time one of the main routes in and out of the valley that is now Jackson Hole.
Before 1800, the only people who traveled into Jackson Hole were the Native American tribes who spent the summer months hunting the wildlife in the valley and the area surrounding it. Among the tribes that trailed through the valley were the Shoshoni, Crow, Blackfeet, Bannock, and Gros Ventre. THIS is Lewis and Clark country! For those mountain men who hunted and trapped in this area, names like John Colter, Jim Bridger, Jedediah Smith, David Jackson, William Sublette and later on men like Beaver Dick called this area home for a time.
Today the Gros Ventre drainage is one of the most beautiful places to travel to fish, hunt, hike, explore or just chill by a mountain lake or stream and just enjoy the moment. Today I only had an hour and a half to get some pictures. These are some of what I saw during my short journey into this mountain range. The only bad things about this trip was I quickly ran out of coffee and time… in just that order too. It was time to head back to Jackson to pick up my bride and head home. Below was my view back to civilization. I am sure the Gros Ventre will be waiting for my return… very soon I hope.
Once again we ventured out here in Afton Wyoming. Coffee in tow… A truly magical place! Around ever bend is another surprise by Mother Earth. This brief vignette is a moment in time experiencing the wonder of Janee Falls. A magical little spot on the road up what locals call Swift Creek. As an added treat imagine sitting in this spot and playing your Native American style flute as you meditate you troubles away. Flute music is played and composed by Brock Jennings… a little song he calls “CHAKRA”… enjoy.
This morning Peyton and I decided to head up what is known as Swift Creek. This beautiful creek (river for those of you in Arizona…LOL) cuts through a limestone canyon that eventually opens up into the town of Afton, Wyoming. I will be posting quite a few videos of this beautiful canyon and the creek that runs through it. The scenery is stunning and offers so many opportunities for the photographer to capture. This little spot is at the base of a large rock outcropping where the crystal clear creek meets the rock and then meanders around it to further its journey toward the valley floor. Such a peaceful spot!
This same creek is also the path that you follow to discover the world-famous Intermittent Spring that hides up this canyon 4-5 miles in. The Intermittent Spring or Periodic Spring as some call it, is one of but maybe two in the world Cold Water Geysers that cascades out of the bottom of some spectacular cliffs. In the fall and through the winter it ebbs and flows starting and stopping every 18-20 minutes or so. Hiking up to the end of the box canyon is exhilarating and so beautiful. When you get to the end of the climb take a moment to receive Mother Natures reward… fill your bottle up with some of the best water on the planet. Recent reports say the water exiting the bottom of the cliff is more than 2,000 years old. I will save this journey for future post.
I woke this morning as I always do which is to say early. On this morning my plans where to head to the gym and then after I would enjoy my typical morning cup of coffee. Somewhere in the process I changed my mind and decided to grab my camera and drag Peyton out of bed to ride along with me. Needless to say she thought I was out of my mind… waking her up that is. We got ourselves together and started the truck. It was still dark outside but I could see to the east hints of morning light on the horizon. We needed to get moving…
Afton Wyoming sits at the very south end of Star Valley. If you read the history of the west you will read that Star Valley was considered settled in the 1870’s by Mormon Pioneers. The real history in part is that long before the trails heading west the Shoshone Indians considered this valley part of their sacred hunting and fishing grounds and they had spent their summers here for many generations before. But since the introduction of the American Western Pioneer this valley became home to many Mormon families and they have been part of our community fabric since.
Star Valley is over 50 miles long and 14 miles wide at it widest point. Alpine Wyoming makes up the northern border of the valley with Smoot at the southern border just before going over what is called South Pass. Smoot is where the Lander Cutoff (Oregon Trail) emerged and the trail west made it’s way back north through what is now Afton before heading west again towards Fort Hall in Idaho. A year or so ago the Mormons built the first temple here in Afton Wyoming and it sits in a majestic place along Hwy 89.
Small by other temple standards it is still a very beautiful place of worship for the Mormon community. I drive by this temple on a daily basis and I have always said I wanted to stop by and snap some pictures. Why not this morning? So we grabbed our hot freshly made coffee, with just the right amount of sugar and cream and headed for the temple. This image at the top is the result of this Morning Coffee for Peyton and I.
It is time again to get back to my Morning Coffee posts. One of the most enjoyable things I have done when it comes to blogging is simply sharing one of my daily adventures which starts each morning with a great cup of coffee.
For those of you who know me know that last year we moved from Jackson Wyoming to Afton Wyoming in order to obtain horse property for our daughter. Although we now live in the Star Valley area Jackson is a frequent adventure in itself.
For those of you who may be new to our blog posts Star Valley is rich in western history. It was for centuries a place with the Native American people who lived within travel distance came to hunt and fish during the summer months. Then in the mid to late 1800’s the area was settled by those heading west.
The Oregon Trail in its many facets came right through was is now our back yard. On this morning I decided to adventure not far from my home to an old homestead I pass all the time. Each time I pass by I say to my wife and myself that I need to stop and take a few photographs. Although I really have no idea of the history of this quint yet humble home I just love it’s setting.
I wonder by whom and when this home was built. What about the large tree setting next to the this humble cabin? Did the family that built it plant it and if so was it for shade or maybe just aesthetics. Did they have children and if so whatever happened to them? As you can see today it is a much different place. The home is empty and the stories that must have surely been told throughout the years are now secrets of this lonely yet beautiful setting.
Wyoming is truly a magical place. Some great adventure abound just about everywhere in the state. Star Valley is rich in Western History some good and some not so good. But on this morning I did stop and take the time to watch the sunrise, enjoy more than one cup of coffee, ponder the past and took some pictures… enjoy.
A couple of years have past since we have written anything about two of our local favorite music artists. Abby Gershuney has stayed with us several time over the past years and has truly become family. Abby ha worked her magic at the Jackson Hole Playhouse many time over the years and is currently performing in St. George Utah at Tuacahn Center for the Arts for the 2018 summer shows.. Abby can sing, dance, act… she can do it all but when she sings she makes people like me smile.
Many of you who know us know our son Brock Jennings. Brock is another amazingly talented singer song writer and he has an amazing voice. Abby was staying with over the Christmas Holiday while she worked for the playhouse a couple of winters ago. Not sure why they do but they waited until the last day to actually lay down some tracks. Abby had to return to New York City for while.
One of the tracks they laid down was not one of their own but a cover from Nickel Creek titled “When You Come Back Down”. Although this is a rough, uncut, unfinished track I wanted to share this with all of you again. I hope you like it. If you do please let us know we would love to see these two play this summer here in Jackson Hole and maybe some other areas too.
Click on Player below to listen to “When You Come Back Down”
“When You Come Back Down” Recorded by Abby Gurshuney and Brock Jennings, Produced by Brock Jennings, Written by Nickel Creek
A couple of years ago I came across some old American Cherry that came from an old hand hewn beam. The best we could tell this beam was more than 200 years old when the timber was cut. Because of its size this Native American Style flute would make a very nice back packer flute. This five hole flute was eventually tuned to the Key of A and both the flute body and the fetish were handcrafted from this reclaimed Cherry wood stock. This flute ended up right at 21 1/2 inches in length and features a 3/4″ flute bore. Please note that this flute was crafted entirely by hand including the flute bore which was cut with a gouge. The cutting edge was built into the body of the flute not an inlay. The fetish was from my otter series and was tied on using our hand cut black Deer Leather.
This flute like all of my flutes was hand planed to achieve its signature shape. We added a hand braided deerskin leather lace accent at the foot of the flute and there were 8 multicolored Crow Beads attached. The inside of the flute bore and slow air chamber were sealed with many coats of finish to help prevent moisture absorption. The outside was finished with more than 20+ light coats of high gloss lacquer. The tonal quality of this flute was in the upper range and it is very easy to play and very forgiving. This flute felt really nice in your hands and the color of the reclaimed Cherry gave it a very nice look. This was a very simple yet great sounding flute that actually found a home with a buyer that takes it backpacking on a regular basis.
Cherry makes for a great sounding flute but as you can see from these pictures it also produces a simple elegance. Although this flute has been sold it is available for commission. All flutes ship with a hand crafted flute bag to protect the during shipping and storage at home. Shipping is in addition to the price of the flute. Call us at (307) 690-0427 or email me at email@example.com.
Who has not heard about the great adventure story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition? Early from 1804 – 1806, Sacajawea was an integral part of this expedition that led Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on their exploration of the American West looking for a path to the Pacific Ocean. Sacajawea and her husband Toussaint Charbonneau played an important role in the success of this expedition – an expedition that led them right through this part of the country – the great Yellowstone basin. But this post is not about their story. It is the story of the resting place of Sacajawea – a once young Shoshone Indian girl who helped change history forever. A place that can be found just a few miles Southeast from Jackson Hole.
Although Sacajawea was reported to have died in 1812 she actually lived to be a very old women as told by Shoshone oral traditions. Long after the end of the Lewis and Clark Expedition Sacajawea eventually made her way west back to the Shoshone tribes and lived out her life in the area that is now Fort Washakie, Wyoming. Anyone who has traveled to or from Lander, Wyoming has gone right through Fort Washakie which is one of two main cities on the Wind River Indian Reservation.
Fort Washakie was originally a U.S Army fort in what is now the state of Wyoming. The fort was established in 1869 and was originally named Camp Augur after General Christopher C. Augur, commander of the Department of Platte. In 1870 the camp was renamed Camp Brown in honor of Captain Frederick H. Brown who was killed in the Fetterman Massacre in 1866. 81 men under his command were killed by Lakota Sioux, Arapaho and Cheyenne warriors during what was known as Red Cloud’s War on the white man. It was renamed again in 1878 after Chief Washakie of the Shoshone tribe making the fort the only U.S military outpost named after a Native American. The fort remained a military outpost until 1909 when it was decommissioned and turned over to the Shoshone Indian Agency.
The graves of Chief Washakie and the Lewis and Clark Expedition guide Sacajawea are located on the grounds of the fort. This burial site lies within the present-day Wind River Indian Reservation. Our family has become very familiar with Fort Washakie as we travel through there several times a year to visit our daughter in Boulder Colorado. As you pass through the main intersection of Fort Washakie there is a small road sign that says “Sacajawea’s Grave Site”. We had passed this sign many times over many years but had never taken the time to stop and visit this very special place. This last trip it was different – we made the time to visit the resting place of this very important person in American History.
Fort Washakie is about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Jackson Hole. A beautiful drive that takes you over Togwotee Pass, through the town of Dubois and across the Wind River Reservation. Just short of Lander Wyoming is Fort Washakie. I need to tell you that please do not expect something on the grandeur of the National Park Monuments we are all used to. Fort Washakie is a humble place that belongs now to the Shoshone and Arapaho tribes. The poverty you will experience on this majestic reservation is shocking and to be truthful something for all to be ashamed about.
Peyton, Brock, Brynn and I have visited several Powwows on this reservation and I can truthfully say these were some of the best days we have had in Wyoming. The Shoshone people are very inviting and I suggest that anyone who is in the area think about visiting one of their Powwows if you can. On this day though we stopped and made our way west of the main intersection, past the Powwow Grounds and along the west side of the Wind River (actual river) for several miles until we came to a very small, unassuming sign that simply says “Sacajawea Cemetery”. As you enter this very humble place two things stand out. No trees or shrubs landscape this place and the close proximity of each grave. Some graves date back to the mid 1800’s and all the way to the present.
I have to tell you that if you are a lover of history you need to visit this place. To stand at the foot of Sacajawea’s gravesite, her son Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau and her sisters son Bazil is quite an experience. This place, this humble grave site, this troubled reservation of the Shoshone people gives one a reason to pause and think… think about those who help lay the path before us, a path that had led to this day that my family stood at the foot of what was once a young Shoshone Indian woman who made an everlasting contribution to our American History.
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!