Friday, October 23, 2015

A Day in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Lewis Falls,  Yellowstone National Park. 

Departing Yellowstone National Park to the south, you pass Lewis Falls on the Lewis River just below Lewis Lake.  There are a number of scenic stops that you can make along Jackson Lake, but campgrounds there were closed or full, so we headed towards the large Gros Ventre Campground down near the Jackson Hole Airport and the tiny town of Moose, Wyoming.  Fortunately Gros Ventre had room, and the cottonwoods were stunning in their yellow fall colors.

Smartphones are a great resource while you travel, whether looking up lodging and restaurants, using a map program to navigate, or Google Earth to look for unpaved roads to explore.  It's best for a smartphone's battery life not to keep it plugged in all the time, and to let it get pretty well discharged before charging it back up again.  There's no telling where your devices might be in the charge-discharge cycle when you stop, but when I'm not driving, I can top off my devices in a campground using a 10,000 MAh battery.  You don't expect to lose your vehicle as a power source, but on this trip I did, so it was good that I had an alternate power source to ensure that we'd have enough power to call for a tow truck!  

The LG G4 phone I was using for some photos on the trip has 32GB memory but, only 16GB after apps and OS, so it was at 1% remaining space when I took this.  The SanDisk memory stick charging here is also a Wireless Memory Stick that works over wifi, so I had it automatically back up all photos from the LG G4 as I took them.  I'd periodically delete a few photos from before the trip, since I was pretty sure that I had them at home, and they were backed up to the Wireless Stick anyway.  When I hit a hotel room every few days, I could plug the wireless stick in to my laptop like a standard USB memory.  (It could do that wirelessly in a campground as well, but I use laptops with 17" HD screens, which have short enough battery life to be more convenient to use when connected to power.)

Devices attended to, we could settle in for dinner and a glass of wine.  It was a clear day, so there was no need to rush out for sunset.  We had picked up a 2014 Larch Hills Marechal Foch Reserve, from the North Okanagan wine region in British Columbia, Canada.  I had never tasted a Marechal Foch before.  Now I have.  It had a very different flavor profile than more common red wines like cabernet or syrah.  It was more like Argentinian malbec meets "young wine" (think Beaujolais), with perhaps a trace of residual sugar.

The next morning we headed over to nearby Mormon Row and the popular Moulton Barn.  I forgot that we had passed some long, deep, muddy puddles in the road on our way to the campground the evening before, so when I came upon the first one, rather than stop and go around it seemed wiser to click on the 4WD and just power through, sheets of water and mud spraying out to the sides.

There were only a couple of people at the barn when we arrived, but it quickly got more crowded.  There wasn't anything exciting going on in the sky, so the scene of photographers was about as interesting a subject as anything.

The area just to the north of this is known as Antelope Flats, and true to its name, a buck antelope had a few girlfriends alongside the road.  It being close to mating season, at times he would spontaneously jump around and prance and dance, either to impress them or simply as an outlet for his excess energy.  If they noticed, they pretended to ignore him.
We went back for breakfast, packed up the campsite, and spent the day enjoying the changing light in Grand Teton National Park, as well as checking out the fall colors along nearby Forest Service and 4WD roads.  I wanted to drive by Jackson Hole Ski Resort and picture it with a coating of snow.  Maybe I'll return for some skiing in a few months.

Jackson Lake was nice and calm when we drove by, so there were some nice reflections of Mount Moran.  Oxbow Bend was calm as well, with the added bonus of bright yellow aspen reflecting in the still water of the oxbow.  I've encountered moose here on several occasions, and moose, elk and grizzly bears at Willow Flats just to the west, but this time people at the Oxbow Bend turnout were looking across the water for a moose they had seen over there.

Other animals were pretty much in their usual places.  Horses were feeding in a large field north of the historic Cunningham Cabin, and across the Jackson Hole Highway bison were feeding in their usual place on the Wolff Ranch.  Bison were also near the northern end of the Mormon Row barns.  In the evening, several bull elk near Teton Park Road south of Jenny Lake were bugling to warn potential challengers not to try to take their harem of cows.
There were a few sporadic clouds in the air during the day, so for sunset we found a nice spot on Jackson Lake to watch them turn color.  A slight breeze during the most intense color gave way to calmer air as sunset transitioned towards blue hour, so that phase yielded the best reflections (photo below).  We had a very nice dinner at nearby Signal Mountain Lodge.

We returned to Jackson Lake for sunrise the next day, which I describe in my next post:

End of the Road for My SUV!

Sunset at Jackson Lake, Grand Teton National Park