Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Other Park

Yesterday we headed south to check out the foliage at Grand Teton National Park. Like most of nature's events this year, it's a little behind schedule and next weekend will probably be peak although there were already some beautiful aspen groves to be seen.

And this beautiful scene from Jackson Lake.




Except . . . before he launched his lovely wooden craft made in Vermont, we'd all been standing on the shore enjoying the view. From out on the water came an explosion of noise and a voice behind me cried, "What the hell is that?" Apparently it was Eminem, or "crap music" as another person called it. After the canoe entered the water, the crappers fired up their engine and went water-skiing past. In closer versions of the photo, he's looking sadly down the lake where the crappers were turning around.



That surely doesn't look like an interesting photo. We'd scooted under the trunk and had lunch by the shore of Jenny Lake before we began the day's big hike. Sitting on rocks by shore, we evacuated just in time when waves from the shuttle to the trailhead we were walking to reached us. A pool of water covered the rock I'd been on. After lunch we headed back up, and with head down to watch my footing and baseball cap on, I rammed the top of my head into the tree. In a distinctly two step process, I felt myself staggered backward and then sat down heavily. Close to a knockout punch, but fortunately I'd missed all of the branch stubs. So, not an interesting photo at all, but I'd love to see a video.





"Skeleton of drowned tree reaching like thin grey arms"



That is Hidden Falls. They need to do a much better of hiding it. That shuttle boat I mentioned drops people off just down the hill, so when we reached the falls after walking a couple miles, we turned a corner and saw what appeared to be a tour bus or convention worth of people standing and sitting. We pushed through, took a couple photos, and got the hell out of there.

Next up, and I do mean up--up one of those trails I hate with mountain wall on one side and increasingly thin air on the other--was Inspiration Point and this view.



The guidebooks tell you that you'll find fewer people beyond that point, but on this day of mid 70s temperatures and free National Park admission, it wasn't really true. (Until we were on our way back after the last shuttle boat of the day had departed.)

Anyway, we were on into Cascade Canyon. It would have taken a much wider angle lens than I have to do justice to the walls which soon towered over us.



I've seen some damn beautiful places in the past couple years (and earlier) but this trail has to go mighty high on the list.







And as if the scenery weren't enough, I saw my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th moose of the summer and my life. Here's cow and calf making their way up a hillside.



While the bull stayed behind to do some more grazing.









Goodbye, Tetons, see you next year.
.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Mt. Washburn

Yesterday, I found myself a nice rock to sit on and watched bluebirds.



















This morning, I got an invitation to climb Mt. Washburn. When we got there, the sky was filled with low clouds, the wind was ferocious, and there was snow in the air. A perfect day for hiking!

There are two wide routes to the top; we took the Chittenden Road (not open to vehicle traffic).



Nowhere else along the route does it look anything like that photo. It's usually a wide open view. Our goal was the lookout tower in the next photo.





We made it!





From the top, that's a look at the road not taken, with the Hayden Valley in the background.

Through a window of the lookout tower (it felt so good to be out of the wind), I found a pika who sat still for seconds at a time.



It wasn't a great day for long distance shots, but this is part of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River with Yellowstone Lake behind it.



















Since it is a fire tower, you get information about the 1988 fires.



The tower also has a logbook where people from all over the world sign in since this is a very popular hike--a chance to get over 10,000 feet via only three miles of gradual climbing.






Friday, September 9, 2011

Bunsen Peak

There is a new bear sign at Yellowstone trailheads.



Last night I was on top of Bunsen Peak. It's a two mile trail gaining 1300 feet up to 8564 feet.



On the trail up, you get a nice view of the area known as Golden Gate. The road follows an old stagecoach route into the park. As you come along the road toward the camera, you have a great view of Rustic Falls.



Still barely starting to climb, there's a nice view of Swan Lake (with sunbeams in this case).



A couple times during the climb, we saw well-camouflaged grouse.



Higher up, I saw my first pika. Then I saw my second and third pika. They were all cute with plants sticking out of both sides of their mouths as they prepared their winter haystacks. And they were all much too fast for me to get even a bad photo.

One of the coolest sights along the trail is this rock formation.



Some views from the top. It's a wilderness out there.





The car's down in the parking lot. Whaddya mean, you don't see a parking lot?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Beartooth

I wrote that I'd do a post with the photos I entered in the contest, but realized that I hadn't kept the list of what the different files were dated and don't want to hunt them all down again. And you've already seen all of them here anyway. The one of mine which made the initial cut was in the closeup category and I called it Sunlit Gentians. I was completely outclassed in the Wildlife category, but in a couple of the others I thought mine were as good as some of those which survived the cut so I'm content with it all. Check out all the winners here.

Today I headed out to parts previously unknown to me. But in the park, we stopped to check out a resting group of pronghorn.




Today, I went to see what Charles Kuralt called the most beautiful roadway in the country--the Beartooth Highway. Depending on the weather, the road is only passable four or five months of the year. Expand the following map so you can follow along.



Yellowstone is on the left; after leaving we went through the small towns of Silver Gate and Cooke City which is closely followed by the Soda Butte campground, scene of last summer's fatal grizzly tent attack.

We stopped at Crazy Creek Cascade. None of my photos came close to doing justice to this high-volume, fast-moving series of waterfalls.



We took a break here.





On the map, the Beartooth takes the northern fork when the road splits. The road had switchbacks like a mountain trail. When we reached almost 11,000 feet, we were above some of the clouds. The wind was ferocious and very cold--my kind of weather!



And, yes, that was snow you saw in an earlier photo. Ski trails can be spotted in the next photo; at another spot, people were sliding down a snow-covered slope.



In the next photo, the spike toward the right edge of the landscape is the namesake bear's tooth.





I'm not sure of the name of the beautiful lake above, but the next one is Island Lake.



A windswept greentangle wishes you a wild weekend from the top of the world.