Aging the New Moulton Barn Roof in Lightroom:

The Powerful Adjustment Brush in Action!

Bright New Roof

Crews just finished roofing the main part of the T.A. Moulton barn along Mormon Row in Grand Teton National Park. Earlier in the year, volunteers replaced the shake shingles on the two sheds on the same barn. Unless the Park stains the new portions (especially the most recent additions), it will take Mother Nature a year or so to naturally age the bright new panels of rough sawn pine. The image above shows its current state.

Photo purists might frown on modifying the image, and that’s perfectly fine, but if it annoys you and you are willing to spend a few extra minutes in Adobe Lightroom, you can at least reduce the bright glow of the roof. The steps are fairly simple — and the same steps can be used regularly on a variety of images and projects.

Adjustment Brush

The Adjustment Brush is found on the far right of the Tools. (Shortcut Key: K) In my opinion, it is the most powerful and versatile tool of the group and perfect for this project.

Show Pins

Once the Adjustment Brush is selected, a new set of fairly important choices appear near the bottom (under the photo). For each new edit with the Adjustment Brush, an “edit pin” is added to the screen. I prefer “Always”. This allows me to see all of the pins and select the one I might need to adjust. The shortcut to toggle the pins on and off is the H key (think of Hide). Similarly, you can view a mask indicating where the adjustments are made. The default color is red. The shortcut key to toggle it on and off is the O key (mask Overlay) or simply click the check box on or off.

Basic Menu

The basic Adjustment Brush panel looks something like the image above. The Up/Down arrows shown in the large oval allow you to pick from one of dozens of adjustments. For this initial step, I chose Exposure. Just to the right is a small triangle. Clicking it will either expand or collapse the additional adjustment options. The illustration above shows it while collapsed. Knowing I would be trying to darken the roof, I put in a negative amount by dragging the slider. The amount entered is really not that important initially.

Brush Size

The three sliders just below the Amount slider control the brush size, feather amount, and flow. Notice I have Auto Mask checked and Density set to 100. Drag the Size slider left or right to change the size, or click the open and closed bracket keys on the keyboard. Hold down the Shift Key while clicking the open or closed bracket keys to increase or decrease the amount of Feather the brush will have (hard or soft edges). Also, you can use your scroll mouse to adjust the brush size including holding down the Shift Key to adjust the Feather amount. The Flow slider imitates how quickly the effect is applied. For this project, a setting near 100 is fine, but you might lower it when darkening skies. Auto Mask helps keep the adjustment inside well defined borders.

First Brush

With the settings from the previous image, I simply painted over the roof with a mid-sized brush. The image above shows the first click before dragging the cursor around. I used a mouse for this project. A Wacom pressure sensitive tablet might be even better for this kind of editing.

Red Mask

When the Overlay Mask is turned on, you’ll see where you painted. Click O to see it or hide it. The Auto Mask feature allows you to be a bit sloppy. Also, notice the new little circle (edit pin) at the top corner of the barn.

-.76 Results

With the Overlay Mask turned off, you can see the results of the -.76 Exposure adjustment.

-.238

To darken the roof a little more, I went back to the slider and changed it. The adjustments are dynamic, meaning you can see how the adjustment is affecting the image.

-2.38 Adjustment

This is the result of the -2.38 adjustment from the previous screen.

Erase

To fix the problem of the stroke outside the roof, I needed to erase a couple of areas. The Erase button is just under the main slider.

Erase with Overlay

With the Erase feature turned on, the Overlay Mask comes in handy (O). Notice the minus symbol inside the cursor. With a hard edge and sufficient flow, it is possible to erase parts of the Overlay by clicking and dragging. Adjust the size of the tool by using the left or right bracket keys.

Erased Results

With only a few strokes of the Eraser tool, I was able to fix the problem areas.

Shed Adjustment

For the shake shingle shed portion of the barn, I clicked the word “New” under the Adjustment Brush tool, adjusted the brush variables and then clicked somewhere inside the shed portion of the roof. The first click sets a new pin. The original pin changes to a light gray circle while the new active region’s pin is filled with black. I simply repeated the steps from the main roof. The image above shows the roof just after cleaning up the overflow areas with the Eraser tool.

Third Pin

The image above shows the shed portion of the roof without the red Overlay Mask, and it shows a new third pin. This time, I reduced the brush size to the approximate width of the bright plank. (Look closely at the previous image) To make a delicate line, I clicked once about where the new black pin appears above, then while holding down the Shift key, I clicked at the top of the diagonal board. Lightroom connected the two clicks with a (straight) line. Presto! I clicked again at the top of the barn to set that point, and then again (while holding down the Shift key) just below it.  Note: the Eraser tool works equally well if you need to erase along straight sections. Click the H key to hide or show the pins.

For all practical purposes, the adjustments are complete! But to see some more of the power of the Adjustment Brush, let me add a couple more adjustments.

Expanded Adjustments

Click the small arrow to show a much longer list of possible adjustments. For this project, I wanted to desaturate the main roof. With that pin selected (click on it), I dragged the Saturation slider down a little. For this portion of the roof, I dragged it to -76. For the shed portion, I clicked that pin and dragged the Saturation slider down to -24. Every image will be different, of course. The important point here is to realize you can adjust any of the settings in any of the three pins by any amount at any time. If you don’t see your pins, hit the H key to toggle them on and off.

Colorize

But wait, there’s more! Near the bottom of the Adjustment Brush’s expanded menu, click the small Color chip. This brings up a familiar color chart. Click anywhere in the chart to set a color. Once the color is selected, drag the slider to control the saturation. You’ll have to experiment to see how the color affects your pinned selection.

Adjusted Image

This is the full view of the adjusted roof sections. Scroll up to the top to see the original image.

Final Comments:
I have been using the Creative Cloud version of Lightroom for quite a while. The most current version includes the Auto Mask feature and I use it regularly. I am not sure how far back that feature goes, but it would still be possible to do this kind of project in earlier versions by simply using the eraser tool if you go out of bounds. Adobe is gradually adding new features to the CC version of Lightroom that are not included in the boxed versions. They are obviously coaxing people to switch to the Creative Cloud option.

I didn’t mention it above, but it is possible to save “Snapshots” of your work at any time or any stage. Click the plus next to Snapshot (in the left panel) at any time and give the current state a name….like Begin New Roof or Finished Main Roof. You can return to any state at any time and begin again at that point. The Adjustment Brush in Lightroom is very impressive! I am a long time Photoshop user, and quite honestly, I could do this same set of adjustments better and cleaner there. Faster? Maybe.  However, all of the adjustments I did to create this image are just “code” applied to the original raw file. The adjustments are non-destructive and they require very little additional memory, unlike a layered Photoshop document.

Lastly, these tutorials can make a project like this look long and drawn out. In real time, this set of adjustments might take three or four minutes.

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Hiking in Yellowstone National Park

Hiking Trail in Forest

Hiking in Yellowstone National Park can be extremely rewarding for a number of reasons. Most obvious to many people is the quick access away from the crowds. Another is having the opportunity to hike in a pristine wilderness that hasn’t been altered by human hands, and has remained so for centuries. For others, it’s just the opportunity to explore a new wilderness. Whatever the case, hiking in Yellowstone is highly encouraged to get the most out of your visit. At the same time though, there are some important things to know before beginning your trip off of the main roads.

Bear Spray – Carry It. Seriously.

First and foremost, always carry bear spray whenever you’re hiking anywhere in the area, whether it’s Yellowstone or Grand Teton National Park, Shoshone National Forest, the Beartooth Mountains, or anywhere in the region. It’s not a touristy novelty item like some people have horribly surmised. Instead, it’s actually the most effective defense against a charging bear. In the last five years, there were two people that both died from grizzly bears. Neither was carrying bear spray and both went into the backcountry defiantly leaving it behind because they’ve “lived here long enough to know how to act around bears.” That’s not what bear spray is for though. Bear spray is for those unexpected encounters when you don’t have time to do anything else but pull it out and fire.

Because of the ’88 fires, much of the new tree growth is very dense and extremely hard to see around. This is how people surprise bears. It’s recommended you hike with someone, and make noise as you’re hiking. This doesn’t mean excessively yelling and ruining the experience of being out in nature for others on the trail. Having a casual conversation at a normal decibel level is enough to let a bear know you’re in the neighborhood.

Oh yeah, leave the bear bells behind. Bears don’t pay any attention to them and the only thing they’re good for is annoying hikers that know they don’t work.

Mountainous Areas vs Caldera Regions

Yellowstone Map

If it’s big mountainous hikes you’re looking for, you may be a little disappointed if you drive in from the south or west entrances. For those that may or may not already know, Yellowstone is a supervolcano. It last erupted 640,000 years ago, and prior to that 1.3 and 2.1 million years ago in its current area. As a result of all the eruptions, the mountains that were previously there have been completely obliterated. Where the Absaroka Mountains had covered the landscape, a massive volcanic caldera is now in its place. This has left much of the southern part of Yellowstone primarily hilly in nature.

This means if you’re looking for large mountains and canyons to explore, you’re best bet is to stick to the northern and eastern areas of the park. That’s not to say that there’s not a lot to see in the caldera, there’s just not a comparable amount of elevation gain and loss. There are, however, still some amazing features, lakes, and remote geyser basins to be found. Also, with over 1,000 miles of trails in the park, there’s something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a couple of simple walks off the beaten path, or epic multi-day adventures, Yellowstone caters to everyone.

I only bring up these differences so that you’re aware of what kind of terrain you may be planning for.

Boardwalks vs Hiking Trails

Due to the unpredictable nature of the thermal areas of the park, many of the more popular area trails are raised on boardwalks. This is primarily a safety reason, since the constant earthquake activity can cause a once stable area of land to become completely unstable and collapse with a minimal amount of pressure. This has resulted in the park itself having to reroute many different trails and boardwalks frequently. Thus, it is strongly encouraged that you always stay on a boardwalk when one is present. These are typically some of the more visited areas along the roadsides. In essence, the boardwalk trails are intended to be enjoyed by everyone, whereas the hiking trails can range from easy to very strenuous and challenging.

People on Boardwalk at West Thumb

Many hiking trails also lead to backcountry geyser basins. It’s assumed that you will use common sense back there. Some of them will have natural barriers that have been placed there, so you cross them at your own risk, but again, it’s recommended you not do so for your own safety. What could have held a bison one day may not be able to support you the next, and you could wind up scalding yourself to death from steam. The precautions are there for a reason.

Aside from that, the main difference is that the boardwalks are typically in frequently visited geyser basins, whereas hiking trails tend to lead off into a more remote and natural setting. Because the boardwalks are so frequently used, you could probably get away with not carrying bear spray on them, but it’s strongly encouraged you have it always just in case. It’s not uncommon for a grizzly bear to visit the Mud Volcano area, for example.

Also, when on a boardwalk, leave the bacteria mats alone. If you think it’s a good idea to kill a bunch of bacteria by writing your name or some other message that only you’ll understand, then stay off the boardwalk. Similarly, don’t feel the temperature of the water. At worst, you’ll burn your hand. At best, you’ll just be demonstrating how little respect you have for the park and its staff. Enjoy the park for what it is.

Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace

Anyone with any experience hiking should already be well aware of this policy and practicing it upon any outing. For those that don’t know, Leave No Trace means just that. Leave the area just as you found it. That means packing out any and all trash, which includes fruit peels, toilet paper, food, etc.

But fruit peels are natural. Why pack them out?
The air in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is extremely dry. Unlike in more moist environments, the fruit peel won’t get eaten, and won’t deteriorate at a rate suitable for the soil. It essentially becomes litter, so please pack it out and throw it away once you’re off the trail.

You expect me to carry out my dirty toilet paper?
Yes. Bring a Ziplock bag and make it your trash bag. If that’s too much to ask, then stay off the trails. The last thing anyone wants to see is someone else’s dirty TP. If you try to bury your litter, it will get dug up by an animal and left out near the trail. In addition, you also leave a scent that will attract multiple predatory animals, making the trail unsafe for everyone else.

Stay Hydrated

As mentioned, the air is very dry here. This takes its toll on humans too in the form of dehydration setting in much quicker than many people are used to, also thanks to the high elevation. I’ve literally watched people get sick just from sitting all day because they didn’t drink enough water. Having to go to the bathroom a few more times a day is significantly easier than the alternative.

Get Out of Your Car

Roads are not meant to be the primary vehicle for seeing a national park. Roads are there to access other areas of the park quicker. Parks are meant to be seen on foot (or horse or bicycle).

While visiting Black Sand Basin recently, I watched a car pull into the parking lot and the passenger took a picture of Cliff Geyser as it was erupting, then they drove away. A friend also told me a story of a couple who came back to the Mammoth Hotel, said they drove around the park that day and saw everything, and were wondering if there was anything else to do. In their case, no. They should leave. But if you really want to see the park and experience why it was protected, get out of the car. Walk the boardwalks. Hike a few trails. Read the informational signs that are available. Talk to (and thank) a ranger. Make Edward Abbey proud. That’s how you experience a national park. A car should only be used to get you from one point to another.

Person on Boardwalk and Elk in Grass

To see more images of Yellowstone, check out my Yellowstone National Park Gallery here.

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Swift Creek to Shoal Creek Loop

Twilight Over Mountain Peak

Swift Creek Elevation Profile

Elevation change on the Swift Creek Hike
Elevation profile and route below courtesy of the HAZ Tracks App

Distance (loop): 18.9 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Best time of year: Summer, Fall

The views at the top of Swift Creek, leading to the Crystal Creek and Gros Ventre River headwaters are easily some of the most epic mountain views in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, but it doesn’t come easily. This loop is both extremely rewarding, but equally challenging, making it one of the most enjoyable trails in the Gros Ventre Wilderness.

Many people prefer to hike up the steepest parts and go down the most gradual parts, since it’s typically much easier on your knees. I opted to go that route, heading up Swift Creek, but certainly the better way for increasingly better views and scenery would be to go the opposite way, heading toward Shoal Falls and up Shoal Creek, then connecting with the Swift Creek Trail to descend. Having rushed through part of this trail, and also having apparently missed a turn taking me on a slight detour, I expect to hike this again next summer that way. However, since I hiked it going from Swift Creek to Shoal Creek, that’s how I’ll be describing it.

A Word of Warning

It is highly recommended that you bring along a good topo map. There are a few places where the trail disappears and cairns are required for finding your way, and there’s more than one cairn trail in the vicinity, so following the right one is crucial. Signage is also inconsistent. There are also a few forks (one of which I apparently missed) which will keep you on the proper route so you can experience the trail as best as possible. Finally, this trail is not at all intended for novice hikers, unless you have an experienced hiker with you who can help guide you through the tricky spots. Either way, be ready for lengthy, steep ascents and lots of exposure to the sun.

On With the Trail

From the parking area, head toward Swift Creek to the north where a dirt road with a “Road Closed” sign is in place just before a bridge crossing the creek. After the creek, only a couple of dozen yards up, look for the trail to veer off to the right from the dirt road. If you miss it, you won’t be on the trail.

After strolling through a large meadow, you soon begin gaining elevation as the trail pops in and out of small meadows and forests as you climb with Swift Creek, occasionally crossing over it. After crossing the creek farther up the trail, you’ll notice a well-trodden trail heading off to the right. This is an unmaintained trail heading up to McLeod Lake, well off of this route, so continue straight. The trail soon begins its steep ascent up into the canyon where Swift Creek originates. For the most part, this trail is well-forested with limited views for a couple of miles.

Trees and Rocky Cliffs

At roughly mile 3.8, the trail finally begins to flatten out to give you a break from climbing as you emerge into a meadow where there’s even a camping spot. Enjoy it while it lasts though. Just up the trail, the trail begins another very steep climb. Watch your footing too. On multiple occasions the ground gave out from under me, the dirt completely slipping from under my feet.

For the next mile or so, the trail will continue to flatten out and climb steeply while the views finally begin to open up. The massive peaks and canyon walls surrounding you begin to appear as the trees slowly become more sporadic and short. The views to the south also open up as fantastic views of the Wyoming Range begin to emerge. If nothing else, the views certainly make for great excuses to catch your breath.

At mile 4.8 or so, you begin to reach the treeline where views to the west are dominated by Antoinette Peak. After a bit more pushing and climbing, you finally reach the divide where all your hard work and effort are payed off in a breathtaking view of the Gros Ventre Wilderness ahead of you. A massive basin is below where Crystal Creek begins its journey toward the Gros Ventre River, which, interestingly enough, is beginning its journey just a mile to the east. The entire view is filled with large alpine peaks and great forested valleys. It’s truly one of the best sights to behold in the Gros Ventre Wilderness and beyond.

If you were only out for the day, this is where you’ll want to poke around, have a meal, and then head back down before taking in all the views one last time.

Milky Way Over Mountains

As for me, I went up with the intent to camp up there, and that’s just what I did. My main goal was in hoping for continued northern lights activity from the night before, and also just to experience the night sky in such a remote place. I stayed up into the darkness to see just how brilliant the Milky Way could shine, and it didn’t disappoint! For those with a little camera knowledge, the area was so dark that I was able to crank up my Canon 5D Mark III’s ISO to 10,000 without producing more than a minimal amount of noise. As for the northern lights, they weren’t out by the time I was ready for bed. However in checking the data later the next day, they were out in the middle of the night. Serves me right for not doing a time-lapse up there just for the fun of it. Lesson learned!

I woke up the next day after sunrise unfortunately and expecting a mellow day, took my time getting back on the trail. In looking at where I was to go next on the map, I realized a had a big problem: I brought along the wrong map. I had three options:

Shoal Creek Elevation Profile

Elevation change on the Shoal Creek Hike
Elevation profile and route below courtesy of the HAZ Tracks App

  1. Play it safe and head back out
  2. Keep my camp as a base camp and explore the area, then head out the next day
  3. Be stubborn and complete the trail, assuming that I would find the remaining route

I’m pretty stubborn in the backcountry, so I went with #3. I packed up after breakfast, and made my way over the next divide, but not before being treated to a glimpse of the highest Teton Peaks peeking over the mountains to the northwest.

Over the next divide, I stood there overlooking the headwaters of the Gros Ventre River, completely blown away by how vast, intense, and grand the scenery became. I immediately began wondering if I should spend my next night in this area. In hindsight, that probably would have been the better choice, but I was eager to continue on and see more.

Heading up to the divide, the trail fades in and out and is assisted by an easy set of cairns. As the trail climbs over the divide with Black Peak emerging to your left, the trail becomes much more obvious, with a couple of large signs pointing out different destinations. One will even direct you down toward Shoal Lake, but shortly thereafter, the trail becomes a long series of cairns as it traverses over a large alpine basin, hopping over various creeks that all help to create the Gros Ventre River.

Creek Flowing Toward Mountain

It was along this stretch that I didn’t notice the trail fork, and wound up going slightly out of my way. Following the cairns through a large flat area, I noticed a path leading off to the right over a ridge. My curiosity was piqued, so I went to go check it out. As I reached the crest of the ridge, I saw the trail dropping into a large canyon, but which canyon? I took out my phone hoping for a signal and was actually able to get one! I downloaded a topo map on my phone and noticed that this spur trail that I had scoped out was actually the Shoal Lake Trail that I wanted to be on. Following the cairns would have taken me much farther east to Dell Creek, and significantly off my path. Thank you technology! Looking back, I noticed a series of cairns leading back a different route from where I had come from.

The trail begins a quick descent down toward a small pond with bright blue-green water reflecting the peaks. Passing around another bend from that, Shoal Lake emerges far below a couple of switchbacks, offering only a few teasing glimpses. It’s not until you’re much closer to it that it’s actually able to show off its magnificence, surrounded by tall Gros Ventre Mountain peaks. The shores beg to be rested at, especially a small cluster of trees at the southeast end of the lake shielding a nice small outcropping of boulders ideal for sitting on just after you cross over the runoff.

Hiker at Glacial Lake

Beyond Shoal Lake, the trail begins a long descent farther into a large mountainous canyon, passing through many forests and meadows. At one point farther down, the trail winds down a steep ridge, exposing a couple of dramatic waterfalls on the other side of the canyon. The trail continues its lengthy descent and ultimately brings you to the top of some high grassy hills.

There were two things at this part that I missed. One was a place to camp, another was the proper fork to access Shoal Falls directly. According to a map I referenced after the hike, there should have been another trail in this area connecting me directly to the falls, but I completely missed it. This took me on an extra mile or so detour, bypassing the falls. I was unaware of this at the time, and instead focusing mainly on finding a campsite. However this late in the season, the hills were completely blanketed in dry vegetation of different grasses and wildflowers anywhere from a couple of feet high to several feet high. As I continued down the trail, I found a fork marked by an unmarked post. Wondering if that could have been the original fork I was looking for, I decided to scope it out and then saw Shoal Falls in the distance, about another mile or so to the north, and much bigger and more grand than I had expected. I continued on that path and came to another fork, pointing me north toward Shoal Falls with left heading out back toward the trailhead. With no place to camp in sight, and realizing I had what I thought were only a few miles left, I made the poor decision to just head back to the car without checking out Shoal Falls. It was at this point in hindsight where camping up at the Gros Ventre River headwaters would have been the much better idea. After admiring some beaver dams and ponds downstream from the falls below the trail, I crossed over the creek and began a rather brutal 700 foot climb up a hill.

Shoal Falls

After crossing the creek, the trail relentlessly climbs up the side of the hill to the west of Shoal Creek. Views become more plentiful and scenic the higher you climb until the trail finally levels out at a pleasantly shaded grove to rest in.

It was here that I realized I was much lower on water than I had thought and I had completely neglected to check after crossing the creek, now far below. I was feeling dehydrated and as a result, was experiencing the “I just wanna be out” feeling, unfortunately the exact opposite of that morning, and never how I want to be feeling on a trail. Fortunately, it was only another mile and a half to the next creek, mostly a gradual downhill, where I was able to rehydrate and take a much needed rest before the last stretch.

From the top of the hill, the trail begins a gradual descent through meadows, forests, and aspen groves, often providing great views of the peaks to the north. It makes a small dip to pass over a creek before making a small ascent back up. As the trail starts to descend more consistently, it enters into an old forest dense with evergreen trees. In continues this descent through the forest for the next couple of miles, bringing you to a fork to either head back up Swift Creek (just in case you want to try the loop again), or back to the trailhead parking. From there, it’s only .5 miles back to the parking area where the loop is completed.

A Few Things I Learned

  1. Bring the right map. You’ll need it.
  2. Though possible in two days, or even one, this loop is best experienced over two nights.
  3. The loop probably unfolds better heading to Shoal Falls first, then up Shoal Creek and down Swift Creek.

I also hiked this trail at probably the least scenic time to be hiking it and was still blown away. All the wildflowers and ground vegetation were dried out and dead, but only a fraction of the aspens were beginning to change. To really get the most out of this trail, either hike this in early August when wildflowers are peaking, or in mid-to-late September when the fall colors are peaking, provided you can stay warm enough.

To see more images from Swift and Shoal Creeks, check out my Gros Ventre Mountains Gallery here.

Getting there: From Jackson, take Highway 89 south for about 13 miles to the Hoback Junction where you’ll take a roundabout. Pass the exit for Alpine and take Highway 191 down toward Pinedale. Continue on that road for about 11.4 miles and just before the highway crosses the Hoback River again, you’ll see Granite Creek Road on your left. Take that road and continue on it for about 7.6 miles, which will roughly follow Granite Creek the entire way. Be sure to avoid the road following Little Granite Creek. At 7.6 miles, you’ll come out of some trees and there will be an immediate right turn pointing toward the trailhead, as well as a nearby ranch. Follow that across the creek, and when the road forks, head left and you’ll see the trailhead parking.

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Randy’s Journey – Motivation to Get Out of Bed

Being an academic that has never followed a blog, I have a problem: I keep thinking I should have something “academic” to say, or teach, in every blog. For those of you who read/write blogs, I’m sorry to come across as such a stuffed shirt. Feel free to guide me in a more informal direction with a comment or two … please.

So here is my non-academic blog post that we can both learn from (or should that be “from which we can both learn”?) The homework from my last blog asked you to explore what motivates you to improve your photography. Since that blog post was about practice and the homework was about motivation, let me share my journey the last week and how it was impacted by practice and motivation.

Those of you who live near the Grand Teton National Park remember that early last week we had four days of pretty much all-day rain.   Since we had clear skies for a couple weeks, most of my landscape photos were fairly bland blue-bird-skies. I was looking for something more dramatic so the first day we were supposed to get clouds and afternoon rain, I set my alarm for 4:30 am and drove the 90 minutes to the park for some exciting sky. Nope, it wasn’t dramatic at all. I didn’t get any photos that were even slightly interesting. Killer for motivation !

Luckily my wife, dog, and I had reservations in Stanley Idaho for later that week – right as the rain was supposed to stop. I was excited to have a beautiful new environment in which to shoot (not that the Tetons aren’t beautiful) and when we arrived in Stanley the clouds were lifting, although it was pretty humid. I bumped into a fellow Teton Photography Group colleague (Aaron) and he told me there had been a lot of fog over Redfish Lake that morning. No worry, it will all be gone tomorrow morning and I’ll get great shots of a new environment. I set the alarm for 5:00 am since I was only a few minutes from Redfish Lake.

I got up the next morning, put on my clothes, and hurried out to the car. Whoa, I couldn’t see a thing! The fog was so thick I had
Fog at Redfish (1 of 1)to drive at 20 mph on the highway and when I got to the Redfish Lake I couldn’t even see the shoreline. I setup my tripod and camera (and didn’t fall in) and figured I could wait-it-out. I took a few photos but I couldn’t see the beautiful Sawtooth Mountains at all. After an hour I left.

As I was driving back to the motel I saw a group of cars parked at Little Redfish Lake so I stopped to see what they were doing. It turned ouLifting Fog at Redfish (1 of 1)t to be a photo workshop that had driven from Oregon the day before (a 12 hour trip) only to be socked-in with serious fog. I waited with them for more than an hour, but it was a bit easier to wait since I now had people to talk with about the lake, the fog, and photography in general. But by 9:15 they got hungry and left for breakfast. I was by myself and left a few minutes later. I had taken some photos but they fell far short of my goal; two very early rises with nothing to show for it. Bummer.

At dinner I bumped into a photographer from the area who asked me about my photography. I told him I was disappointed with all the fog at Little Redfish Lake that morning and he asked me what time I was there. I said I finally left at 9:15 after wandering at the lake for over two hours. “Too bad you left so early. I got there at 9:30 and the fog was lifting. I got some great shots of the mist over the lake with the mountains catching the light just perfectly.” Bummer! That’s what you get for leaving early.

How many times have you been discouraged when you got up really early, or drove really far, or made some other sacrifice only to get nothing in return? Not getting a “reward” after making a sacrifice can really undermine your motivation. So what should we do after such motivational discouragement?

Sunset at Stanley Lake (1 of 1)

That night I drove a few miles and set-up for the sunset over Stanley Lake. I was hoping for some clouds and they showed-up. I was hoping for some sun on the mountains and a nice sunset and it worked … and I felt better and maybe even a little more motivated.

And the next morning I had a little more bounce in my step when I got up at 5:00 am to go back to Little Redfish Lake for sunrise. There was a little fog/mist on the lake and watching the Sawtooth Mountain Range come alive as the sunlight came down the Sawtooths was rewarding enough even if I didn’t get any good shots – but I got some.

Sunrise at Little Redfish (1 of 1)

So what did I learn? It was something I already knew but getting the lessons once again boosted my motivation. Are you experiencing these lessons?

  1. Don’t Pack Up to Leave Quite Yet – This is a very tough lesson to learn since you can never be sure when things will change. I always try to stay “a little longer” and find something else to see or think about in the fog or smoke or rain or …
  2. Don’t Ask Yourself if You Should Get Up – Make up your mind the day before. Put your gear near the door or in the car. NEVER ask yourself if you should go out on a shoot when you are in a nice warm bed; the answer will always be “Sleep a few more minutes” and you won’t get out of bed.
  3. Have a Shoot-Partner to Meet – It is easy to go back to sleep but not if someone is counting on you to meet them. Photo workshops can be very helpful for many reasons and one of them is that others are counting on you.
  4. Reflect on Your Own Motivation – One of the key “strategies” to improve your motivation is to think about your own motivation. What gets you out of bed in the morning? What brings you back for another shoot after an uneventful day? How have your photos improved over the last month or year? What have you learned that has improved your photos?

And tomorrow I have an early morning shoot. I’ll leave home at 4:45 am and pick up an old college friend in Jackson at 5:45 to drive up to Oxbow Bend. It won’t be tough to get up and take a 90 minute travel because: I had some success last weekend; I have a friend to meet; and I’m confident the color of the vegetation in the park will give me a great opportunity to take some great photographs. And even if none of my photographs were great, the beauty of a sunrise at Oxbow Bend with an old friend will make it worthwhile.

A Little Help for Randy to Reach OUR Goal

I received eight comments to my last post, (and quite a few have been added to the first post.) If you are one of those folks who took the time to add a comment, thank you very much. Since I am such a raw rookie on blogs I need your help to achieve our goal of helping amateur photographers. I was looking for comments to include in my posts but that is going slowly. So rather than wait, I am going to try to put up a post every two weeks with a bit more about my journey. I also received some suggestions about including photographs; that is why I have added a few of my photos and I will probably ask for yours sometime in the future.

The next post will be about how to improve your motivation. Please respond with comments to the last post so I can include how YOU improve your motivation. Don’t worry. If you feel like you have no motivation, put that in a comment and I promise I won’t mention your name. 😉

The Consequence of Not Knowing Fear

Grizzly Bear Cub Hiding

I was recently hiking on some unmaintained trails in Grand Teton National Park hoping for some wildlife encounters since there were plenty of ripe berry bushes at this particular location. Given the opportunities, I was specifically hoping for some bear and elk, knowing both were in the area.

I had been hiking for roughly a mile, but hadn’t seen any wildlife yet, and found myself exploring a new trail I hadn’t been down before. There were lots of downed trees in one location and visibility was fairly limited in my immediate surroundings. Of course it’s recommended that people make noise to scare away wildlife, but I didn’t want to scare it away. I wanted to see it. I also feel comfortable enough with my knowledge of wildlife to avoid any unfortunate encounters, and I had my bear spray as a last resort, which is its intended use anyway.

I began to notice that even though I had knowledge of the area and knowledge of the wildlife I was likely to see, there was still fear running through me. I began to dig a little deeper into the feeling. I realized it wasn’t the kind of fear that says, “This is a bad idea and I shouldn’t be here.” It simply seemed to be more along the lines of, “Be alert.”

Many people live their lives in the comforts of their home, eliminating any form of fear that comes their way, something I can hear reflected in the comments of guests I take out on wildlife safaris. When these types of people come to visit an area rich in wildness like Jackson Hole, they can’t tell the difference between the “bad idea” fear, and the “be alert” fear. Both should always be listened to, but both yield completely different results. For those who can’t tell the difference, however, it often leads to uncomfortable situations for others who encounter them along the trail.

This was made annoyingly obvious to me as I was introducing a friend that was relatively new to the area to the Amphitheater Lake Trail a couple of years ago. The trail is a favorite of mine because of its dramatic views over the valley and its grand reward at the end: Amphitheater Lake tucked away in a mountainous, rocky bowl below the Grand Teton. I did not enjoy the hike on this particular day though. We caught up to a group of people who were blaring music from their cell phones audible from nearly half a mile away for the entirety of their hike. Knowing we’d be keeping pace with them, we stopped and let them get ahead, taking an unnecessary break so they could gain a substantial distance. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the last time we encountered them.

They were simply experiencing the “Be alert” fear, but had absolutely no idea how to cope with it. Their solution was to drown out any chance of allowing the natural world to penetrate, and thus inspire them. Unbeknownst to them, they completely missed the entire point of their hike and most likely went away experiencing a fraction, at best, of what they could have. In the process, they distracted and annoyed everyone else out on a relatively crowded trail who was hoping to see and hear all nature had to offer and to get away from technology and artificial sounds.

The same fear was the undoing for a beloved grizzly bear in the area. Grizzly Bear #587, one of the first cubs of the famous Grizzly Bear #399, was living peacefully in northern Grand Teton National Park and the Teton Wilderness. On occasion, he was known to pass through the Pacific Creek neighborhood, a secluded and remote development miles away from any civilization, even as the crow flies. Most residents didn’t mind him passing through, as was typical for other bears, wolves, elk, moose, and all sorts of other wildlife. According to a Jackson Hole News & Guide article, “Residents of the neighborhood said 587 was guilty only of being there.” Yet new residents to the neighborhood took one look at him and completely panicked. <sarcasm>How could this wild grizzly bear have gotten into a secluded remote, mountain development?</sarcasm> They took it upon themselves to deal with the situation, immediately calling the authorities to have the native resident removed, rather than taking the time to ask neighbors about the actual danger, or to even educate themselves on how to coexist with natural inhabitants of the land. Later, Grizzly Bear #587 was found preying on cattle, but not by breaking into anyone’s private land. These cattle were the product of welfare ranching: openly grazing on public lands where wild animals freely roam. Not knowing the area, this was the easiest prey he could find in a foreign environment, and was subsequently put to death for following his instincts.

The person to blame was so against experiencing fear of any form, that they took it upon themselves to (and may still) alter anything in their surroundings to make them feel more comfortable, no matter how many lives it takes.

Though many people do their best to eliminate this fear from their lives, it’s actually one of the most valuable feelings to experiencing life in a richer and more fulfilling way. Those not experiencing it are living a tame, almost numb form of life that prevents a true feeling of being alive from manifesting. After all, you couldn’t truly know happiness if you didn’t have sadness and boredom to compare it to. Without knowing fear, you can’t really feel its opposite of being ecstatically alive.

I continued hiking along that unknown trail. A squirrel would scurry through the brush, its sound amplified by the fear. Birds would fly to and from branches, their sounds amplified even more since they were initially out of sight. It was a growing tension and fear that actually felt good to feel, though I began to feel sorry for people that never allow those feelings in. In a short walk, tucked away in a forest with no exceptionally majestic sights to see, I was potentially feeling more alive than someone hiking high up in the Tetons surrounded by a cathedral of granite.

As I hiked along that trail, not knowing what, if anything, was around the next corner and pondering these thoughts, I couldn’t help but smile. I was feeling fear, but it was keeping me alert. A better word would be ‘aware,’ something easily lost in the day-to-day routine that I had been experiencing too often this summer. The more aware you are of your surroundings through your own senses, the more likely you are to have a rewarding experience, both in the short and long-term. It builds up your awareness of your surroundings and of what you’re capable of feeling and experiencing. Feeling and embracing fear is one step to living that more regularly.

Of course not knowing how to cope with fear is a lot better than not even knowing you have fear.

Ultimately, I saw two black bears on that hike once I had wound back to the Snake River. I came upon one a few dozen yards away who was (mutually) surprised by my presence and began to move off. Wanting to know if I had completely scared it off, I moved in a circular pattern from where it last was, ultimately reaching the river to see clearer. About 100 yards away, I saw a black bear walking down toward the water to get a drink. I was very confused at this point because it didn’t look like the bear had moved that quickly. I took a few steps up the river to get a better look, and on the other side of a tree next to me I saw that I was actually next to the first bear I had seen. Up the river I had seen a completely different bear quenching its thirst. Knowing I was pushing my luck at this point, my thumb hovering over the bear spray trigger, I backed away and gave it its space as it studied my movements. Satisfied with the distance I had given it, it walked into the brush and began eating on the berries that were readily available, but out of any good potential angles for shots. With both bears now a safe distance away, I sat by the river to enjoy the scenery for a while, then headed back to my car to go home, satisfied by a fulfilling day, despite not getting any shots of wildlife.

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Grand View Point Trail

Jackson Lake and Teton Mountains

Grand View Point Elevation Profile

Elevation change on the Grand View Point Trail
Elevation profile and route below courtesy of the HAZ Tracks App

Distance: 1 mile (one way)
Difficulty: Moderate
Best time of year: Summer, Fall

Tip: Bring bear spray. Seriously. It’s not just for the safety of you, but also the bear. Even if you’re at fault, the park will put down the bear for attacking. This particular area is dense with bears and bear spray cannot be recommended enough on any hike in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

For those looking for a quick, but rewarding hike as you head north to (or from) Yellowstone, Grand View Point makes an excellent stop. The short trail brings you through a dense forest before topping out at excellent views of Jackson Lake and the Teton Mountains to the southwest, and Two Ocean Lake to the northeast.

At the trailhead, look for the trail just to the right of a service road, and proceed up. It doesn’t take long before the trail starts climbing rather steeply. The trail will continue at a steady ascent up, but some areas are steeper than others. The early stretch of the trail is heavily forested with limited views, but patience does ultimately get rewarded here.

At .2 miles, the trail will fork with a trail coming from the right, connecting hikers with an option to head to Emma Matilda Lake, and/or Jackson Lake Lodge. Those with more time on your hands may want to consider this as an option, or also from starting at Jackson Lake Lodge.

Two Ocean Lake and Forest

The trail continues to ascend through the forest and at about .7 miles, will begin to reveal some views. Initially, you’re treated to a view of Jackson Lake from a meadow before winding around back into the forest. Just through a small stretch of the forest, you come to a small knoll treating you to a view of the other direction, consisting of Two Ocean Lake and the Teton Wilderness. You’ll notice that many people walk right over the knoll, but please use the trail that winds around it to the left to minimize your impact on fragile vegetation.

After another short stretch through a forest, you’ll reach another small knoll with a tremendous view of Jackson Lake and the Teton Mountains. Just a short distance back up the trail is the actual Grand View Point at 7823 feet, high above Two Ocean Lake and Emma Matilda Lake below, with the Teton Wilderness and Absoraka Mountains stretching into the distance.

Enjoy the view, and head out the same way you came in whenever you’re ready. For those with more time on their hands, you can also continue on the trail to be brought down to Two Ocean Lake just 1.3 miles farther. For those with all day to spare, a trail continues around both Two Ocean Lake and Emma Matilda Lake, winding you through a plethora of grand views in a more remote area of Grand Teton National Park.

Getting there: From Jackson, drive north on Highway 89 for 30 miles, before turning left at the Moran Junction to pass through the toll for Grand Teton National Park. Either show your pass or purchase a pass to access this area of the park, and proceed ahead for just under six miles, passing Jackson Lake Lodge on your left, then making the next available right onto an unsigned, unpaved dirt road. The dirt road will fork after a short distance. Continue straight (right) and continue for about .8 miles where the road will dead-end at the trailhead.

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The Insanity of Not Respecting Nature

Black Bear Reaching for Berries

2015 has so far seen a number of increased bison attacks on people in Yellowstone National Park, but despite what many visitors think, rarely, if ever, is it the animal’s fault.

Most people are surprised to hear that bison are responsible for the most injuries in the park. The cause is almost always the same. Someone who thinks of them as big, dumb and slow animals walks up to one to take a picture with it, ignoring the warning signs the animal is showing, and the bison is forced to its last resort: tossing the person up in the air and breaking several bones in the flight, at the very least. After all, they can sprint over 30mph and are anything but docile.

There have also been multiple bear fatalities in recent years just in Yellowstone. Two completely separate incidents were the result of someone hiking into dense bear areas defiantly leaving bear spray behind, claiming they’ve lived here long enough to know how to behave around a bear. Of course if you know what you’re doing around a bear, you don’t need bear spray, but spray isn’t for people that don’t know what they’re doing around a bear. Bear spray is intended for those rare close encounters that you don’t see coming, what’s ultimately suspected of claiming the lives of those two people.

You would think the increased wildlife-human interactions would lead to more education and understanding about our natural world, but sadly, dangerous narcissism (in more than one way) remains high in wild areas. Just recently, a section of the Colorado Trail was closed because too many people were taking selfies with bears. That’s literally telling the world, the animal included, that you have absolutely no respect for the animal or the environment you’re in. Trying to get as close as you can to a wild animal to make sure it’s visible within the picture is for one reason only: to show your friends that you saw something they didn’t. In that moment, you’re completely detached from the magic of the encounter and reverting to completely unnatural behavior in a vain and futile attempt to 1-up your connections online, and everyone they’re connected to hoping they’ll see as well, thereby putting you in the spotlight. The entire point of the encounter is lost entirely. This is not why wild animals are out there. They’re there to keep ecosystems healthy so that we can hopefully continue to have fresh food and water for decades to come.

What’s missed by blatantly disrespecting nature is a chance to understand yourself better which leads to a more rewarding and fulfilling life. Despite our best efforts to deny it, humans are still animals, and humans need a healthy amount of nature. In fact, multiple studies are beginning to show that children need outdoor exposure to properly develop. This is because our mind and bodies still depend on the natural environment for rest and relaxation. Trying to briefly “escape” to nature only carries the burden of trying to escape, so a true immersion into nature isn’t fully possible. Then, when a wild animal is encountered, the competitiveness to outdo friends is still there, leading to unnatural and dangerous behavior in nature. In fact it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that taking a selfie with a bear, or any wild animal, is a form of insanity. The etymology of the word insanity points to two origins that sum up that behavior quite accurately: “unhealthfullness” and “extreme folly.” I don’t think anyone who actually understands what nature is would argue against that at all.

The narcissism of trying outdo other people is completely misplaced in nature. It’s dangerous not just because you’re putting your own life at risk, but should a bear attack you, no matter how idiotic you were behaving, rules dictate that park or forest officials have to kill the bear. To put another life at risk so you can potentially outdo people you know is unquestionably insanity. Of course they probably don’t know that, but to be so disconnected from nature as to have your main goal be to satisfy narcissism at the sight of such a majestic creature would also qualify. Besides the obvious danger of it here, there’s also the danger of getting completely absorbed in the lifeless circle of not getting to understand or truly experience nature, and therefore yourself. This ultimately leads to a bland and unsatisfying life where the absence of nature is artificially and inadequately compensated for through other means, though never achieving the same result.

People often (semi-)joke that there should be a test before admitting people into wild areas. The sad and ironic truth is that most people would fail that test horribly, but raw and wild nature is exactly what they need to be cured of not understanding the natural world, and therefore, themselves.

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Bearpaw and Trapper Lakes

Sunlight Breaking Through Clouds

Elevation Change Profile for Leigh, Bearpaw, and Trapper Lakes

Elevation change from Leigh, Bearpaw, and Trapper Lakes
The ups and downs look intense, but the elevation on the left reveals it’s a lot less intense than at first glance. Elevation profile and route courtesy of the HAZ Tracks App

Distance (one way): 4.6 miles to Trapper Lake
Difficulty: Easy
Best time of year: Spring, Summer, Fall

For those looking for an easy-going, but rewarding hike, Bearpaw and Trapper Lakes make for great destinations. Both are tucked away at the base of Mount Moran to the west, in between Leigh Lake to the south and Jackson Lake to the north. The entire trail has very little elevation gain, making it an easy trip for those not wanting to exert themselves too much. They’re also great destinations when snow is either still covering the mountains, or has just started to.

The hike begins at the frequently used String Lake/Leigh Lake Trailhead. The large parking lot at the end of the road gets used by everyone from picnickers just passing through to paddle-boarders on String Lake to backpackers heading up to the Paintbrush Divide. As a result, the parking lot fills up quickly so it’s best to get there early in the morning, both to beat the traffic, and also to have the time and flexibility to explore the area farther back. From the parking area, proceed toward String Lake, then take the String Lake Trail to the right to begin heading north. A few small rocky ridges will bring you up and down a minimal amount of elevation gain and loss, but very soon the trail smooths out as it pops in and out of the trees to show off some outstanding views of String Lake and the Teton Mountains behind it. If you’re there early enough (or late enough) in the day, you should see some immaculate reflections in the water, weather permitting.

Mount Moran Reflection in Leigh Lake

At nearly a mile the trail forks, left leading up toward Paintbrush Canyon, and right leading toward Leigh Lake. Proceed right toward Leigh Lake which is only about .1 miles beyond, but not before another fork leads those with canoes and kayaks to portage to the left. Hikers (that’s you) should continue to the right. A very short ascent up a small moraine yields a great view of Leigh Lake through the trees as the trail heads north to wind around its southeastern shore. The trail descends from the moraine as it begins to hug the perimeter of the lake, many times bringing the trail right next to the water for even more dramatic views of the Tetons. Again, early in the morning and late in the evening will frequently present crystal clear reflections. Farther up the trail, excellent views up Paintbrush and Leigh Canyons begin to be revealed.

As the trail continues north up the eastern edge of Leigh Lake, it soon passes through some campsites at roughly 2.5 miles in. If anyone is currently using the sites as you pass through, please respect their privacy and hike on, unless they’re friendly, in which case you should say “Hi.” The trail continues through the forest and along the lake and after a bit of hiking, you’ll notice that you’re entering a recently burned forest. This was the outer edge of the Bearpaw Bay Fire from 2009. It’s in this area that the trail begins to veer to the west as it wraps around to the northern edge of Leigh Lake.

Bearpaw Lake Reflections

After hiking westward along an old, overgrown forest to your left, and a freshly burned forest to your right, the trail soon opens up into a large meadow where another trail crosses it coming from the south at Leigh Lake heading north. Taking the trail right for roughly .4 miles will bring you to a campsite on the north end of Bearpaw Lake, giving you some different and interesting views of the lake unobtainable from the main trail. From this vantage point, it’s a bit easier to get a few shots of the mountains in the background, though you’ll notice that Bearpaw Lake isn’t the most impressive lake, especially having just passed String and Leigh Lakes. What it does offer is solitude and quiet, and where there’s solitude and quiet, there’s an increased chance at seeing more diversity in the wildlife of the Teton Mountains.

Trapper Lake

Continuing straight at the junction will bring you to two other campsites at Bearpaw Lake, this time on the west side of the lake. The trail winds past the two sites and begins a short ascent up a small hill to bring you a bit closer to Mount Moran. Once the trail has crested the incline, you enter a quiet and still forest for a little less than half a mile. At the end other, a campsite for Trapper Lake forks off to the left, and only 100 yards further is Trapper Lake, complete with elegant beaver dams and ponds at its north end.

Tip: Visit in fall to see large groves of aspens on the side of Mount Moran in their peak color.

If you left early in the morning in the middle of the summer, enjoy the views and the peaceful surroundings. By the time you’re back at String Lake, there will be lots of people and commotion all over the trails and shores of String Lake. To get back (when you’re ready), head back the same way you came in.

To see more of Leigh, Bearpaw, and Trapper Lakes, check out my Teton Mountains Backcountry Gallery here.

Getting there: From downtown Jackson, head north on Highway 89 for roughly 12 miles to the Moose Junction. Take a left and continue straight to the entrance station and either acquire or show a permit to gain access to Grand Teton National Park. After about 10 miles, look for the North Jenny Lake Junction and make a left. At 1.5 miles, you’ll reach another junction where you’ll take a right. Follow that road until it dead-ends at a large parking area. Park anywhere in here and proceed to the northwest part of the parking area to join the String Lake Trail. Restrooms are also located on the northeast side of the parking area, while potable water can be found on the west side in the picnic area, provided it’s not regularly freezing at night.

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September 2015 Daily Updates & Photos for Grand Teton National Park & JH: A Monthly Journal

Welcome to September! Foliage Reports September/October 2015 :

Red LeafSeptember is a busy month with lots of changes. This page will contain mostly wildlife and landscape images, plus area tidbits, events and activities. The Foliage Reports page will be a little more “foliage” specific and include updates as I get around to the various areas of the park.

Monthly Overviews for JH / GTNP .

Click the link above to get a quick look at what you might expect to find with all 12 months side by side. Hint: Click any of the months below to see how previous years looked!

Daily Updates Archives:
2015: Sept: | Aug: |
July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
2014: Dec: | Nov: | Oct: | Sept: | Aug: | July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
2013: Dec: | Nov: | Oct: | Sept: | Aug:

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September 13, 2015 : Sunday

Young Pronghorn

Young Pronghorn: Taken on the two track dirt road running east and west from the Kelly Warm Springs. I’ve heard the road called “Warm Springs Road”. D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Lewis in Ditch Creek

Lewis in Ditch Creek: This bull used to hang with another similar sized bull. I called them Lewis and Clark.  D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Lewis in VelvetLewis in Velvet: Sept. 23rd along the Snake River.

I took quite a few shots of this bull while he was in the river and was able to match the pose fairly well. I’d be fairly certain this is the same bull. Currently, his antlers are still partially covered with hardened velvet. Some of it, especially the velvet on the inside portions of the paddles, will be difficult for him to remove now. He’ll be easy to recognize throughout all of the fall and winter. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Moose Calf in Changing Ground Cover

Moose Calf in Changing Ground Cover: A cow and calf were not far from the bull. D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Bees

Bees: There were a few thistle plants near the Shane cabins. I was focusing on the bee on the flower when another one flew into the scene. D4 and Nikon 24-70mm F/2.8 lens.

New Images and Info on: Foliage Reports September/October 2015 :

One-On-One Excursions Openings: A few openings are available in September. Just ask! The trips are designed to help people learn to use their DSLR cameras and help photographers find some of GTNP’s nice shooting locations. Click the link for more information. (Golden Era Studios / Mike R. Jackson is an Authorized Permittee of the National Park Service and the National Elk Refuge.)

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September 12, 2015 :

Brown Bear

The Moose-Wilson Road is still closed, but that’s not the only area of the park with bears. They are seen regularly around String Lake, Jenny Lake, Signal Mountain, and Spaulding Bay. We saw a sow Black Bear and cub not far from Pilgrim Creek yesterday. D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Black Bear

Black Bear: They will often be on the move from one tree to the next. It helps to have your camera next to you, with the appropriate settings dialed in, so you can roll the window down and get a couple of shots before you are forced to move on. Grizzly 610 and cubs were reported back north recently. D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Chipmonk

Many people get bogged down trying to capture images of the big mammals. Be sure to keen an eye out for the more plentiful Critters. D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

If you are in town tonight, you might consider going to Tom Manglesen’s Artist Reception & Book Signing at his shop downtown. Hours: 5-9pm.

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September 11, 2015 :

Newest Feature Post: The Moose-Wilson Road and Black Bears – My Experiences

Moose-Wilson Status

Moose-Wilson Status: Road Closed! Larry, a Wildlife Management volunteer is seen here telling a driver the road is closed and he has no idea when they will open it. He told me there were still lots of bears on the road. Additionally, several Grizzlies have been reported in the region, one as close as the Taggart Lake area. Larry also told me Grizzly Sow 610 caused a big bear jam near Oxbow yesterday. The small sign taped to the Road Closed sign tells people they cannot bike or hike through the area. D810 and Nikon 24-70mm F/2.8 lens.

Reflections

Reflections: The Tetons, reflected in the large window on the back side of the Chapel of the Transfiguration. D810 and Nikon 24-70mm F/2.8 lens.

Pronghorns

Pronghorns: These youngsters were sparring near the road along Mormon Row Road.  There were lots of Bison at Elk Flats, much farther north. D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Young Coyote

Coyote: Based on the size, I would suggest this is a youngster. It was crossing at the T.A. Moulton Barn. D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Oxbow Bend

Oxbow Bend: I snapped this shot from the van to show the status there. Skies were essentially cloudless all day. There is a LOT of yellow up north. Check out Foliage Reports September/October 2015 :  for a lot more foliage photos from today. D810 and Nikon 24-70mm F/2.8 lens.

If you need some guidance for the day, check out some of these posts:

Moulton Barn

The T.A. Moulton Barn will be getting a new roof soon. There is a trailer, Loadall, and supplies along the back side. The John Moulton barns appears to be getting a new roof right now, too. There a trailer on the back side, plus one side is stripped of shingles. A porta-potty sits just to the north along the dirt road.

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September 10, 2015 :

Black bear bonanza closes Moose-Wilson JH News & Guide story in today’s paper:

September 09, 2015
Temporary Closure at Jenny Lake and Surrounding Trails

John Moulton Barn

First of the Stars at the John Moulton Barn: I took this one late in the day yesterday. The light was added using a 2 million candle power flashlight. D810 and Nikon 24-70mm F/2.8 lens.

Milky Way Over the Pink House

Milky Way Over the Pink House: The John Moulton Barn is a popular site for night time photography, especially for milky way shots. Last night, there was a construction trailer parked on the back side. D810 and Nikon 14-24mm F/2.8 lens.

Morning Shots

Washakie in Willows

Washakie in Willows: When I found this bull, he was with a Cow and Calf not far from the river’s edge. He abandoned them and began a half mile trek to another downwind Cow. He would stop, sniff and then continue in an almost perfect straight line to her. D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Resting Custer

Resting Bull Moose: I added some extra texture overlays in Photoshop on this one. You might like seeing this post: Resting Moose: A Collection of Less Seen Lifestyle Images D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl Side-by-Side: Yesterday afternoon, I went out looking for Moose along the Gros Ventre. I hiked maybe 3/4 mile of the river bottom. In the process, I spotted a Great Horned Owl and took half a dozen shots of it before it flew to another tree top. The owl was backlit in the afternoon sky. I opened up a couple of stops and blew out the sky to white to get the details in the bird. In Lightroom, I dragged the Highlights slider down to bring in a little blue. The rest were just basic Lightroom adjustments to produce the image on the left. In Photoshop, I added several textures and used a filter or two from the Topaz Adjust filter set to create the one on the right. I cloned out the small branch on the left and one below the branch. MJ D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Here are a couple of Blogs you might find of interest:

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September 9, 2015 :

Moose-Wilson Closure

Moose-Wilson Road Closure: Last evening, GTNP officials closed the Moose-Wilson Road due to bear activity. At the time, they told us it was because of too many Black Bears along the roadside.

Wednesday Morning Update: LeAnn Rogers Yeates on Facebook wrote, “Mike, a Ranger told us as we were driving out that there’s at least one Grizz in the area, too…….so this will be a 72 hour closure, then they will reassess the risks. Typical for Sept., sure glad we came over when we did!”

GTNPNewsGTNP News Releases: In theory, you could click the top button in the list in the navigation bar and go to the GTNP site for closure information. I did that just now and do not see any closures. I called the park dispatch line and was told the road is closed “due to bear activity”, but she was not sure if Grizzlies were part of the decision. The dispatcher said she would send a note to see if they could update their page.

Togwotee Pass Grizzlies 2013With the closure of the Moose-Wilson Road, you might want to look over this page: Outside the Park: Alternative Places to Visit, Hike, Fish, and Photograph If the Park Service follows their previous policies, the Moose-Wilson Road will remain closed until after 72 hours of their last sighting of any Grizzly Bear in the area. Grizzly Sow 610 has a tracking collar, but they haven’t disclosed specifics. I’ve heard of a Grizzly roaming the Teton Pines subdivision just south of GTNP. Grizzly Bears are also seen regularly along the road towards Dubois (along Togwotee Pass). There are 100 yard restrictions there, too, but you can photograph from the window of your vehicle.

Check this out: Grand Teton National Park on CBS Sunday Morning: Charles Schultz is credited with the footage. Some of it looks like it was filmed in Yellowstone to me.

Photos From this Morning:

Washakie Lip Curl

Washakie Lip Curl: If you are not sure what’s going on here, check out: Flehmen Response or “Lip Curl” in GTNP Moose D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Custer in Cottonwoods

Custer in Cottonwoods: D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Cow Moose in Gold

Cow Moose in Gold: D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Crossed Legged Calf

Crossed Legged Calf: D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Custer and a Rocky Crossing

Custer and a Rocky CrossingD810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Pronghorn Does

Pronghorn Does: These were beside the Gros Ventre Road. I didn’t see a buck, but one was probably close. D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

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September 8, 2015 :

The Labor Day Weekend is over but the park and town are still crowded. The JH Rodeo and nightly Shootouts are over for the season. The Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival will be beginning soon. A gallon of Self-Serv Unleaded gasoline “plummeted” to $2.89 from $2.93 last week. Kids are back in school. Some of the summer worker headed back to college. You get the idea—a shift in the business calendar’s seasons! Inside the park, the wildlife is going on about its business of the Fall rut and building up fat and food stashes for the upcoming winter months.

New Feature Post: Foliage Reports September/October 2015 : This page will be updated regularly throughout the month. Keep an eye on it!

Custer, Cow, and Calf

Custer, Cow, and Curious Calf: After stripping their velvet, bull moose are beginning to get interested in the cows. D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

After A Good Drink

After A Quenching Drink: D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Cow and Calf

Cow and Calf: Crossing the Gros Ventre with first of the morning light hitting the willows and cottonwoods. D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

In Pursuit

In Pursuit: The cow and calf crossed, followed by the motivated bull. D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Cinnamon Black Bear in Morning Grasses

Cinnamon Black Bear in Morning Grasses: Bears are feeding on Black Hawthorne berries, moving from tree to tree looking for the “low hanging fruit” at the moment. Some are climbing the trees to get to higher berries. D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

The Easier Route

The Easier Route: D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Black Bear Cubs

Black Bear Cubs: D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Cinnamon Cub

Cinnamon Cub: I have a folder of images of the Black Bears and am working on a Feature Post about my experiences along the Moose-Wilson Road. If you are not already a subscriber to this site, now’s a great time to do so. I’d love to have a couple hundred new subscribers!  D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Loose End Wildlife Reports: Over the weekend, I saw two young foxes in the Dornan’s area, along with a weasel on the Moose-Wilson Road. Robins, Western Tanagers, and Cedar Waxwings are feeding on the berries, along with a bat that flew within arm’s length of me. Grizzly Sow 610 and her cubs were spotted over the weekend along Shadow Mountain. At least for the past couple of years, she finds her way to the Moose-Wilson Road for the peak of the berries, and when that happens, expect the road to close.

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September 7, 2015 :

Cinnamon Sow On Buck Rail

Cinnamon Sow On Buck Rail: I saw several Black Bears today, but only took photos of this Sow taking advantage of a step ladder to the Black Hawthorne Berries. D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Buck Rail Seat

Buck Rail Seat: D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Standing Black Bear

Standing Black Bear: I’ve heard a few tourists identifying this bear as a Grizzly, probably based on the light tan patch on her back. D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

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September 6, 2015 :

Stripped Velvet

Stripped Velvet: Today was a very long day for me. I am making this post at 10:30 pm. The image above is a crop of a very early morning shot at ISO 10,000. D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Moose-Wilson Road

Moose-Wilson Road: The rules still say people are supposed to stay back 100 yards from bears, but when Wildlife Management personnel or Law Enforcement Officers are on the scene, people are often allowed to be closer. The road is tight, with few legal parking spots. D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Black Bear Crossing Marsh

Black Bear Crossing Marsh: This bear has a yellow ear tag. Bright summer light makes photographing black bears especially tough. D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Cinnamon Bear in Hawthorne Bush

Cinnamon Bear in Hawthorne Bush: D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Black Bear Crossing the Creek

Black Bear Crossing the Creek: D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Black Bear in the Forest

Black Bear in the Forest: Late evening, low light shot at ISO 7200. I was heading home when I ran into this bear jam. D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Sunset Barn

Sunset Barn: I started before sunrise and ended after sunset today! For this shot, I used an off camera SB910 strobe, triggered with a RFN-4s controller. I was holding the strobe just out of the frame (to the left), set to +3 power and zoomed to 200mm.

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September 5, 2015 :

Soggy Skies

Soggy Skies: After making my normal loops looking for animals (moose with velvet), I ended up at Mormon Road. They make good foreground subjects to put in front of the mood clouds. D810 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Evening Storm

Evening Storm: The clouds rolling in over the Tetons at sunset were equally dynamic and moody. D810 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

I got a late start because of the dark skies, rain, and thick clouds.

Cattle Drive

Cattle Drive on Spring Gulch Road: D810 and Tamron 24-70mm lens.

Snow Capped Grand

Snow Capped Grand: In town, we had rain overnight. The Grand received a layer of new snow. D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Cinnamon Bears

Cinnamon Bears: Taken along the Moose-Wilson Road. (I removed a branch across the face of the small bear) D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Cinnamon Bear and Hawthorne Berries

Cinnamon Bear and Hawthorne Berries: D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Black Bear

Black Bear: D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Sleeping Indian

Sleeping Indian: Taken from the highway on the way home. D810 and Nikon 70-200mm lens.

Spring Gulch

Spring Gulch: Also taken from the highway. D810 and Nikon 70-200mm lens.

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September 4, 2015 :

Schwabacher Morning

Schwabacher Morning: I started out looking for Moose, but ended up at Schwabacher for first light. I tried a shot from this same spot last evening, but the colorful evening sky never happened. This image is stitched from three individual captures using Lightroom CC2015. D800 and Nikon 24-70mm lens. Click this image to see it much larger.

Schwabacher Mossy Pool

Schwabacher Mossy Pool: The water level has dropped in the first pool by the parking lot, revealing aquatic vegetation that breaks up the normal mirror reflections. There is similar “trash” in the water along Flat Creek just north of the Visitor’s center, but the many ducks and waterfowl don’t seem to mind. There were at least 8 vehicles in the south parking lot at Schwabacher Landing this morning. Over the past few years, beavers have been busy building and maintaining a series of dams in that area, creating reflection pools that were not there in prior years. D800 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Gear: The images above were taken with my Nikon D800 body. I recently ordered a new Nikon D810 and it should be here today. My Nikon D4 now has over 670,000 actuations and is going strong! A year ago this week, we were fishing for Kokanee Salmon and the D4 took a couple of second bath. While in for service, Nikon replaced the shutter on it. At the time, it had 503,000 actuations—well above the published life expectations. In the 12 months since, I’ve added over 170,000 actuations!

THE SEVEN DEADLY MYTHS OF INTERNET COPYRIGHT: This page has been on my site for a while, written by a lawyer and specifically dealing with photographs. There are a couple more similar pages linked on that page. Since this page is essentially a Daily Journal of what’s going on, I’ll include a bit more about my personal experiences. A couple of the sites suggest copyright submissions must be made in a timely manner…they suggest 90 days from the time you take a photo. I had my June copyright submission ready for uploading on August 31, but the US Copyright Office site was down and has been down all week. I spoke with a person at the Copyright Office today. She said the “90 day window” is not an issue at all.

There’s a section in yesterday’s post called Area Tidbits: All of it applies today.

Teton Vista

Chris Balmer from Perfect Light Camera and Supply dropped off my new Nikon D810 before lunch. We headed north for a few shots and a little reconnaissance. This is a mid-day shot overlooking Hedrick Pond. D810 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Aspen Trunks and Ground Cover

Aspen Trunks and Ground Cover: This was taken behind the Camas field near Arizona Creek. D810 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Red Leaf

Red Leaf: There are hints of rich colors at our door step. D810 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Orange Aspens

Orange Aspens: After a big rain, you’ve probably seen TV news reports of a guy paddling around in a canoe in a low area of a town. There may be some actual flooding in the area, but they pick the very worst little spot for the new cast—even though much of the surrounding area is relatively dry. That’s the problem with doing random foliage shots. I’ll always find the trees with the most color to post. Right? This group of orange aspens stood out against all the green trees near Jackson Lake Junction in GTNP. There are random trees turning prime all over the park, but most are just beginning to turn. D810 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

I spent half an hour setting the Auto Focus Fine Tune adjustments on the new D810.  I set the AF Fine Tune for each of the telephoto lenses using a LensAlign.

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September 3, 2015 :

Custer in a Side Channel

Custer in a Side Channel: I looked for moose all morning, including hiking a mile or so of the river bottom in two directions. Nothing! I gave up, figuring it just wasn’t my day. As I was driving home, I spotted this bull out of the corner of my eye. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Mountain Maple

Mountain Maple:  I have been hearing the Mountain Maple are starting to turn in the Snake River Canyon towards Alpine Junction. We had soft, thin cloud cover this morning, so I make a quick trip down. A few of them are beginning to turn. Traditionally, the maples are bright red between the 15th of September and possibly up until October 2nd or so. Last year, many of them looked good when we went down to fish on September 7th.  Check out September 2014: for more photos from down there. D800 and Nikon 70-200mm lens.

September Foliage Reports Page: Coming Soon! Some areas seem well ahead of normal.

Area Tidbits:

  • Tomorrow is the last Free Concert at Snow King ball field. Lucas Nelson is playing and I hear he’s really good.
  • The Fort Bridger Mountain Man Rendezvous is underway at Fort Bridger, WY. It is the largest of the year in this region.
  • I’ve driven by the barns along Mormon Row and haven’t seen much new progress lately.
  • There is road construction near the Hoback Bridge and just north of Hoback Junction.
  • Black Bears are still feeding along the Moose-Wilson Road. No reports yet of Grizzlies in the area.
  • I’ve heard a few reports of Great Gray Owls being sighted again, including several reports of them around Munger Mountain.
  • Don’t forget to check yesterday’s new Feature Post.:  Antlers and Wyoming’s Shiras Moose –

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September 2, 2015 :

Antlers Sequence Strip

New Feature Post: Antlers and Wyoming’s Shiras Moose – As I make this post, about half of the bulls have already stripped their velvet for the year. If you are lucky, you might get to see and photograph this important stage in the yearly rut cycle.

The Grand

The Grand and Blacktail Butte: D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Custer in Sagebrush

Custer in Sagebrush: The three Bulls I photographed on Monday stripped their antlers on Tuesday. Quite a few people got to photograph it and I would have liked to be one of them. Still, I was with the bull above on Tuesday as he did a river crossing. I added roughly 650 actuations on my venerable old D4 in the process. Can’t complain! D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Custer in Cottonwoods

Today, I found this one and stayed with him until he bedded down in a cool, shady area. On the way home, I saw another one along the side of the Gros Ventre river with what appeared to be full velvet. It was close to 10:00 am as I drove by and he we still feeding in the warm sun. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

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September 1, 2015 :

Sleeping Indian

Sleeping Indian: Taken from the hillside along the Gros Ventre Road. Lots of possibilities yet to be explored there! D800 and Nikon 70-200mm lens.

Morning Clouds

Clouds Above the Tetons: I saw this cloud developing over the Tetons, so I did a quick run to the barns for first light. D800 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Welcome to September!

Gros VentreThis photo was taken on August 30th, 2015 along the Gros Ventre River. Based on a few clues like this one, it appears foliage is going to be early again this year. The 30°F morning we had about a week ago might have initiated the early changes in parts of the valley? During September, I plan on adding a JH Foliage Reports 2015 page to accompany this September Daily Updates and Photos page.

August was a banner month for me. If you missed it, check out August 2015 Daily Updates & Photos for Grand Teton National Park & JH: You can get a good idea of what the first part of September will look like. Also check out September 2014:

Oxbow Bend in PinkThis photo at Oxbow Bend was taken on September 21st of last year. Typically (if there is such a thing), Oxbow peaks around October 2nd or 3rd. I haven’t been that far north in a while, but when I do, I’ll report on the status here. I don’t think many leaves will still be on the trees at Oxbow on October 1st this year either.

September Crossing

September Crossing: Bull Moose crossing the Gros Ventre in early morning light. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.
If you like moose, be sure to look over the last half of August: August 2015 Daily Updates & Photos for Grand Teton National Park & JH:

Beginning of the Month Loose Ends and Reports:

  • FREE in Jackson Hole ~ Areas & Activities: Some of the Free activities end after Labor Day.
  • The Fall Arts Festival will offer plenty of new activities and events.
  • Wildlife is becoming very active. Moose are beginning to shed their velvet. Bison are still in the rut. Bears are looking for berries. Elk are beginning to bugle. Beavers, squirrels,  and other small mammals are beginning to gather winter supplies of food.
  • Smoke has mostly lifted or blown out. Lingering amounts have still been causing great sunrise and sunsets.

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“Don’t it always seem to go? You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

Lyrics from “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell ~ 1970.

Moose-Wilson Status

Joni’s words seem to ring true lately. I spent quite a bit of time with the black bears along the Moose-Wilson road this year. There have been more in the area than some years. For maybe a week, photography was great. As of last Tuesday afternoon, we are prohibited from seeing and photographing them. They are not gone, but the opportunity has been severely thwarted. The Park Service probably made a good call on it. And, it might reopen soon? Who knows? The Moose-Wilson Road and Black Bears – My Experiences

The challenge, and focus of this post, is to acknowledge “what you’ve got” while it is happening and get out and photograph it while it is there.

There are always yearly trends and cycles. Leaves turn color and drop in the fall. Snow falls and remains on the valley floor around Thanksgiving. Bison rut in August. Many babies are born in early June. Grass turns green and deciduous trees add new leaves in May (or so).

But there are always little gems that fit between the common phases. Many are short lived and often don’t repeat.

Great Gray Owl

Three or four young Great Gray Owls appeared along the Spring Gulch Road at about the same time the Government Shutdown closed the Parks. It was good…really good… for a week or so. The owls eventually moved off the roads and one of them was hit by a vehicle. They haven’t been back. Great Gray Owls of Fall

Foxes 2008

A few years ago, a family of foxes showed up only a few feet off a main road in downtown Jackson. It was great, and it lasted a couple of weeks. She hasn’t been back. Red Fox: A Spring Vixen

River Otters

River Otters have been seen in some years along Flat Creek near the Visitor’s Center. But, not every year.

Chaning Beaver Terrain

Beavers can dam an area, creating a new pond that kills a beautiful stand of trees. The same pond might create spectacular reflections and habitat for numerous animals. Yin Yang.

Beaver with Willows

Beavers of Schwabacher Landing

Pfeiffer Homestead, On Antelope Flats Road

Forest Fires can change a landscape within only hours. The historic Pfeiffer Homestead, On Antelope Flats Road, burned to the ground during a prairie fire.

Shane Cabin

Time, decay, and the elements are constantly wearing down man made structures. The Luther Taylor cabin (the Shane Cabin) is now classified as a “ruins” site, and if I understand it correctly, will be allowed to fall down. The Shane Cabins: Authentic Homestead in Grand Teton National Park

T.A. Moulton Barn

Al Pounian took this wonderful shot around 1964. While the barn is sill there, all of the other outbuildings and fencing are totally gone. Some of the fencing and corrals at the John Moulton Barn have been repaired or replaced in recent years. The “Missing” GTNP Farming and Ranching Photos:

Flat Creek in November

Some wildlife related opportunities have a weather twist to them. Swans migrate through Jackson Hole in mid-November and December. In some years, Flat Creek freezes solid and we miss many of our chances to photograph them taking off and landing. In 2014, a pair of Trumpeter Swans paraded their little cygnets in front of viewers most of the summer. We looked forward to them again this year, but none of their babies survived. Trumpeter Swans: AFamily of Swans Along Flat Creek in the Summer of 2014

Moose Clan

Some species of animals are on the decline. One year, I found a herd of moose scattered in the sagebrush east of Blacktail Butte. I counted 28 antlered moose, plus plenty of cows and a few bulls that had already dropped their antlers. I haven’t seen those kinds of numbers since. Moose were much more common around Oxbow Bend than now. People saw moose in Yellowstone regularly in the early years, but many never see one on a trip through the park now. See: Montana, Wyoming investigate plummeting moose populations

Jenny Lake Trail

Other times, a governmental agency closes an area we’ve always used. We took it for granted. Sometimes, areas are closed to vehicles because of abuse or overuse, but either way, the vehicle access is gone. People can still hike in. There are several roads up the Gros Ventre that come to mind along with roads back to the Snake River in the South Park Feed Grounds. I have an old fishing guide book here somewhere that mentioned a good fishing spot called “First Creek”. It’s somewhere near the far north end of the Jackson Lake Dam, but that area is completely closed all human activity. I never got to fish it and never will! The photo above was taken at the top of the trail at Jenny Lake. The last time I was there, the trail was still closed, and it has been closed for at least a year. A piece of asphalt broke off, creating a potential hazard.

Kelly Warm Springs

Kelly Warm Springs: In 1927, the natural dam created by the Gros Ventre Slide gave way and flooded much of Kelly. “But, for uncertain reasons, Mud Springs (today’s Kelly Warm Springs) began producing more water after the Kelly flood. Settlers cut the Mormon Row Ditch to the springs and began irrigating dry lands.” See: Mormon Row Irrigation and the Kelly Warm Springs: Sometime starting in the 1940s, people began putting tropical fish into the warm pond and many of them flourished. Currently, there is a plan to poison the entire pond and ditch to rid it of the tropical fish. For many years, families and kids have gone there with buckets and nets, making a sport out of catching them. For better or worse, things will not be the same there soon.

Buck Rail Fence

Shrinking budgets can affect what we are seeing. The photogenic old buck rail fences across from Triangle X ranch showed up in many people’s portfolios, in magazines, and paintings. They have been replaced with less attractive barbed wire fences. Over the years we’ve lived here, many of the iconic old fences have been removed. Wild West in Jackson Hole: Cowboys, Wranglers and Horses

Get it While the Gettin’ is Good!

I could probably come up with another dozen or so examples, but you should get the idea. For the most part, the loss of the photographic opportunities are out of our control. Some are still available, but are slipping away fast. A few opportunities will be gone soon and future bloggers will be reminiscing about them. Occasionally, we get special windows of time to photograph bears, otters, owls, or newborn animals. Those times to a photographer are similar to a powder day to a skier or snowboarder or a Green Drake hatch to a fisherman. You have to “get it while the gettin’ is good!

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