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!
It is clear that the weather is starting to change here in the Yellowstone Basin. Grizzly Bears are being sighted scrounging for food and the area is clearly starting to move from Winter into Spring mode. Days are longer and nights are getting shorter and warmer to boot.
People will start to plan their summer trips and for many Jackson Hole, Yellowstone and Cody Wyoming will be on the itinerary. If any of you travel through this area this coming Spring, Summer or Fall please reach out to me and come see some of my flutes , Native Pipe designs and jewelry here in my little shop.
I am located on the banks of the Snake River in the South Hoback Junction area in one of the most beautiful setting. Come see me at the end of the road and while you are here take a beautiful walk along the banks of the Snake River. And while you are here visit our Rodeo and see some spectacular cowboys ride into the night.
If you have interest please reach out to me via email or phone and set a time to stop by. I would love to meet with you and show you some of my art. I am working on a large number of flutes and pipes so don’t be surprised if you find something you like. Please contact me at “firstname.lastname@example.org” or by phone “(307) 690-0427” let’s get together – I would love to meet you.
Raven Themed Alaskan Yellow Cedar Key of E @ 440Hz
I have just about completed the crafting of this Raven Themed Flute. I believe this has turned out to be a beautiful Native American Styles Flute. This flute is hand crafted from Old Growth Alaskan Yellow Cedar and features a 1 inch bore and is tuned to the Key of E @ 440 Hz. The Wind Way area features a Black Walnut inlay for the cutting edge. The leather accents are hand cut from select Elk Hides including a leather piece that covers the #4 playing hole. The tassel is black Horse hair and is wrapped in traditional red trade cloth using black sinu. The beads are a combination of black and red glass Crow Beads and there are 4 sterling silver bead in between the Crow Beads.
Finally this flute features my signature hand cut step that steps down from the Wind Way area to the bore of the flute. All in all a very nice flute. This flute I believe has been spoken for but I would love to build one just for you. I would love to hear feedback on this piece.
Listen to Sound Sample from this flute
This flute design is available for commission so if you have interest please reach out to me at “email@example.com” or call (307) 690-0427.
Another beautiful day here in Jackson Hole Wyoming and a perfect cup of coffee to go with it. This picture seemed a bit unusual this time of the year with no snow on the ground and the warm sun shinning. Taken behind Miller Butte on the Elf Refuge… He looks chill. I hope this brings a smile to your face this morning…
I was contracted to build two large mirror frames for the newly expanding Aveda Salon “Tori” located here in Jackson Hole. Tori is a rapidly expanding salon and soon they will double their size. The two mirror frames in the picture below were hand crafted from selected old barn wood that Tori Carson found in Idaho. Monday they go in for the mirrors and then to her shop. I will update the pics when the glass is in…
Available for Custom Order – contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Some of you may be wondering what happened to our weekly posts and the truth be told is we have been enjoying the most amazing Fall weather. I can’t remember when the last time we saw such a beautiful, warm, completely awesome Fall in Jackson Hole. Weekends at the lakes with our kids, people still riding their bikes around town and on the trails and more tourists seemed to hang around longer than in years past. Simply a very nice surprise for those of us living in the Yellowstone Basin.
But as we all know the winds of change come quickly when mother nature decides that it is time. One of most unusual things I noticed this fall was the complete lack of snow on the Tetons. It seems that there is always snow somewhere on these majestic peaks but this fall snow was almost devoid of this precious white commodity.
One of the side effects of this wonderful warm weather was the total lack of water that we saw this summer. Jackson narrowly escaped one of the worst fire seasons on record and because of the heroic efforts of so many firemen and state and federal assets Jackson narrowly escape what could have been a tragedy. So with our rivers and streams down and our open spaces brown with thirst this warm fall season left many of the true locals lacking the very basic things they need to survive the upcoming winter. We saw a return of the Bison to the area north of town and it was clear to me that this past spring and summer was good to these herds as their young were everywhere. But the lack of tall grass like we saw last year seems to be on the thin side and so we ponder how they will fair this winter.
One clear sign that pickings are thin were the numerous bears we saw this fall all looking for something to eat. On the Moose Wilson road the Hawthorne bushes that are usually packed with life giving berries simply did not seem to materialize. The lack of water this summer showed clearly how devastating this could be when it came time for these animals to find food in preparation for winter. We watched bears climbing trees and pulling empty berry branches to their mouths eating what ever they could get their paws on (literally).
Another event that fall brings is the beginning of the hunting season. People are pulling permits for Elk, Bear, Antelope, Wolves (new this year), Bison and even birds. Especially for the elk, fall brings the double hazard of foraging for food while hiding from hunters doing the same. Small groups which to me look like little families run for cover after coming out of hiding for a well deserved drink and then it is quickly up the hill side to the safety of the trees. Although I enjoy a good elk steak I enjoy even more seeing these beautiful animals in the wild. Yes Jackson Hole and the surround area is a magical place to live. And with each change in the seasons you definitely know what time of the year it is.
My worry this year is that because of the amazing summer and warm fall weather we have enjoyed, this winter may bring a true struggle for life for all that inhabit the great Yellowstone Basin. Especially for the young, this first winter for them will be the test of how strong they are. Food is scarce and they need these calories to make it through the winter.
As of now they look strong to me, and I am sure the Great Spirit will lift her hand to comfort them and bring them through what is about to come. I leave you with a Native American Flute Song that shares with you a message of peace and hope. Written and produced by Nakoa Heavyrunner, Assiniboine Native American Music Artist, The Honoring is presented first in song, then by Native American Flute, then English and finally one more time in Northern Cree. We too wish all of you peace and good life this winter.
Over the past couple of days I have ventured north of town with Peyton as every day offers something new and different. No real stories to tell except that Antelope Flats is alive again with activity. We have seen Moose, Coyotes, Buffalo, Elk, Pronghorn Antelope, Deer, Ground Varmints, Badgers, Hawks, Eagles, beautiful vistas – awesome. Spring is definitely a time when all of mother nature is on the move. Although none of these pictures by themselves are spectacular, they are representative of what we see every single morning. Antelope flats is easy to get to and in 1 hour you will be blessed to be surrounded by some of this areas greatest inhabitants. The bears are out and we have ventured into the park to see if we could find them. Yellowstone opens in the next week or so and we will soon be traveling into the parks for more photo fun. Come to Jackson as see what we are talking about. Enjoy…