Friday, February 12, 2016

Grand Tetons- Part 2 of 3

Here are some more picture of the Grand Tetons. Part 3 will be an entirely different part of the park.

While we were walking down a trail we had a bear come out right in front of us.  To the right of this picture is a lake. To the left are the woods.  The bear came out of the water only a few feet in front of us. He crosses the path and walked in the woods parallel to us for a couple minutes. He then came back down the path and walked in front of us a ways before going his own way.

DJ and I hiked to a mountain lake. I hadn't gotten a shower in a few days and felt dirty. I decided to go for a swim to clean up. The water wasn't freezing cold but it was brisk. While I was swimming this mother moose and her baby, also felt the need to go for a swim. One of the coolest experiences in my life swimming in the same lake as two moose.

Sandhill Crane

There are buffalo jams in Grand Teton not just the Badlands.

An elk herd

White Pelican on the Snake River

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Grand Tetons Part 1 of 3

Feeling that there is only so many posts one can do about Yellowstone, it is time to move fifty miles south and go to Grand Teton National Park.  There are so many natural wonders in Yellowstone, it would be impossible to show you all of them. The thermal basins are huge, some are a mile across. At any one time five or six geysers could be going off. I photographed as much as I could, but they are much cooler in person than in pictures. So goodbye, Yellowstone, hello Tetons.

Yellowstone had many small neat features. Grand Teton blows you away with the immensity. The range rises 7000 feet from the surrounding sage brush prairie. After doing five posts about Yellowstone, you'd think that was my favorite place. The truth is, Grand Teton NP is my favorite place I have ever been. Besides the one thing all men think about, there are two thoughts that cross my mind almost every single day. At some point in the day, I will think back about the beauty of the Tetons, and the other is fighting false albacore.

I posted a lot of pictures of the range. There are two main park roads, an outer and an inner. Both parallel the range for many miles. There are many pullouts on the side of the road. The roads are east of the Tetons. One morning I got DJ up early (waking my son up early is becoming a theme, I know) and we drove the road taking pics at every stop. The light coming from the east was coming over our backs for a nice blue sky hitting the mountains. 

One last thing, the Grand Tetons have just as much wildlife as Yellowstone. We saw animals everywhere. It has many more moose than Yellowstone. We saw a few right on the trail..

 Sometimes you just get bad light. So I just accepted my pic wouldn't be that good and enjoyed the moment

Hidden Falls

Pretty awesome having the buffalo herd in the picture. I love the
American West

This photo is a recreation of pictures in many American landscape calendars. The cabin is famous and is used by many photographers to show size and depth perception. Next time you go to a dollar store or Job Lot and see the calender's, there is a good chance a photo similar to this will be in it.

These idiots are standing within 20 feet of a thousand pound bull bison. Not smart.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Mammoth Hot Springs

These two locations in Yellowstone are no where near each other in the park. In an attempt to keep my Yellowstone posts as few as possible, I am combining them.

 The area around Canyon is famous for two waterfalls . They are creatively named Upper Falls and Lower Falls. Lower Falls drops 309 feet. The falls are on the Yellowstone River, not some little trickle. The main viewing area is known as Artists Point. There is a huge parking area near the falls and a very short paved walk to see Lower Falls. There are other trails for falls viewing. We did all of them one day. As was my routine, on days that we went to touristy areas, we got up especially early to beat the crowds.

One of the trails we did, drops down into the canyon on a set of 600 stairs. I didn't believe it was that many on the way down so I counted them on the way up. Climbing the equivalent of 60 stories,I found out the number was correct

 The picture above and below are from Artist Point

The river going through the 24 mile long Grand Canyon. It was a beautiful shade of aqua

Much closer. This picture was taken very early. We had to use the flash because the light was still not very strong

Right above Lower Falls on the Brink of the Falls Trail. 

The Hot Springs at Mammoth pour out of the ground filled with minerals. As the water evaporates the minerals settle. After time they build up into really neat formations. Of the natural wonders, I thought the Mammoth Hot Spring was the neatest. Although right off the main park road, these springs were not very crowded. There were far fewer buses and tourists, I don't know why. They may not be as spectacular as a 300 foot waterfall or as famous as Old Faithful, but what they lack in grandeur, they made up for in uniqueness. 

Different minerals, different colored formations

A close up of a formation

Trees were growing here until a new hot spring formed killing
them off

These formation formed by the evaporation of
mineral filled water are huge
The town of Mammoth has an elk herd that lives there. They hang out in the town common. They are not pets or fenced in, they choose to live there

The Wildlife of the Mt Washburn Area of Yellowstone- My favorite post so far from my western trip

We drove into the park from the northeast entrance. From that entrance to the loop road, you go through Lamar Valley. Lamar Valley is unlike any valley I have ever seen. There are mountains on both sides but they are ten miles apart and the basin on the bottom is relatively flat. It is immense. In the valley we saw in the hour of driving and stopping, an eagle fly by, a pronghorn herd, a buffalo herd and THREE grizzlies. For some reason, I do not have any pictures of this. I don't know if I accidentally deleted them, or if I just didn't take any because the animals were so far away.

The good news is Yellowstone wildlife more than made up for my carelessness. We took hundreds of pictures of wildlife throughout the park. Animals were everywhere. The reason I am singling out this specific area is we spent four days in this area. We daytriped from our campground, but we always had to come back through the Mt. Washburn area.

This area of the park is near the tourist area known as Canyon. Canyon was hence named because the campground, gift shop, ice cream shop, showers,etc were built near the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Artist Point.

We did a hike up Mt Washburn. It is only three miles each way. It does end over 10,000 feet. One of my bucket list goals was to do a hike over that height. This one is sort of cheating because it climbs the mountain on a fire road. The reason we did it, was I read there is a bighorn sheep herd on the mountain, and we might get a chance to see some. Boy did we ever.

As we were hiking up, we saw these sheep. We were so excited, we snapped a quick picture

As it turns out, they have no fear of people. They were very cooperative photo subjects

We also saw this weasel carrying a mouse

This little guy is a pika. They are little rodents that live at high elevations. They scurry around looking for food for the winter. They are not as easy to get a picture of as sheep

So that was our hike up Mt Washburn. I didn't even bother to post the wildflower meadow that went up the whole first mile or the beautiful view from the top.If you ever go to Yellowstone, take a morning and do this hike.

 On the part of the road that lead from our campground to Mt Washburn, and other places we traveled, lived a grizz and her cubs. We saw her  multiple times. It doesn't matter what you have read, if you have seen a black bear and not a grizz, you will not be prepared for the size difference. They are enormous. The hump on the back is much more intimidating in person than in photos or nature documentaries. We didn't see any males up close, but they weight 400
pounds more than a sow. I'd have loved to have seen a bear that big.

In case we weren't spoiled enough, these animals below also lived in the area withing thirty minutes of our campground.

 This black bear was just off the parking lot at the Petrified Tree.It was actively feeding, but I don't know on what.

Uintas Ground Squirrel

This elk herd lived in the field/woods just off our campground road

This bull also lived in the area, staying by himself, but within
smell of the herd. We saw it multiple times, but it was on
the main road, so we could never stop for long to get the perfect
picture because a car would always come along

Swainson's Hawk

Eagle along the Madison River

Probably the best picture we got of a marmot

Mountain Bluebirds are so pretty, that DJ and I both wanted the perfect picture of one. Every time one of us had the camera and a bluebird showed up, just as we'd focus it would fly away or it would have our back turned. The light might have been bad or it would be too far away. Needless to say we were getting frustrated with each other. We even got into arguments because we thought the one with the camera should have gotten the picture. Finally this one came along and we snapped a few shots of it before it took off. This is the best one. It is off center, but they are wild animals so I'm okay with it. An 8x10 hangs outside my bathroom door.