Last Day in the Tetons......Waking Up to More Snow
When we went to bed last night, the temperature was mild and no sign of the white stuff. So imagine our surprise......
We didn't have a concrete plan for the day, and especially now that we have snow, so we decided to drive to the top of Signal Mountain. I have no idea why.......Maybe because it was close by. Most of the drive up looks like this.
Part of the way up, we stopped for a 'funny' picture at the Jackson Lake Overlook. Not only can we not see the lake, we don't even know if we're looking in the right direction. The road was very twisty and there is no sign of sun behind these thick clouds, so who even knows where west is at this point?
Signal Mountain's elevation is 7720 feet above sea level. We didn't climb far before we were in the clouds. Looking east from the summit, Cow Lake is in the center.
On a clear day, the overlook from Signal Mountain is apparently spectacular. Not today, but every few minutes, a few more clouds clear.
Signal Mountain stands alone offering panoramic views from its summit. The next closet peak is 10 miles away.
This hillside reveals a single deer, hoping to escape the focus of the long lens.
But then stops and poses for us!
Off in the distance, we could see blue sky! Far off in the distance is Snake River.
We were starting to realize just how far one might be able to see on a clear day.
We found it!!! View of Jackson Lake as we headed down the mountain. We were in search of more wildlife. We saw so much in Yellowstone, but still wanted to see a moose up close. How close? I'm not sure, but closer than what we saw in Alaska or Yellowstone.
On a nice day, hiking this area could be very rewarding and very scenic. To the north is Oxbow Bend, to the east is Snake River, to the south is the Jackson Hole area, and to the west are the Teton Mountains and Jackson Lake.
As we drove along Teton Park Road, the clouds kept giving way to more and more blue sky. We were optimistic:)
Around each turn, brought new scenery.
It rises 6000 feet above Jackson Lake to a height of 12,605 feet.
Just a little to the south is Grand Teton, the granddaddy of the Tetons at 13,770 feet.
Somewhere around Jenny Lake, we found this guy with a couple of friends just hanging out beside the road and when I say beside the road, I mean we could reach out and touch him. I had the big lens handy and not all of him would fit in.
On down the road between Taggart Lake and Beaver Creek, we spotted this lone pronghorn antelope. Funny that we found a town named Beaver Creek in Wyoming. We lived in Beavercreek Ohio before moving to Florida and on our local Florida news, they show us a snow cam of Beaver Creek Colorado in the winter months.
At first, he gave us the back end, and the side stinkeye that says 'I'm watching you'
but (no pun intended) then decided his mission to find food outweighed the crazies with the camera.
Let's take a look at his face.
After we finished stalking him, we continued to drive out Moose Wilson Road. We had heard that it was a great place to see wildlife, especially moose.
Moose Wilson Road, which is south of the park and officially outside of Grand Teton NP, is pretty narrow and starts out paved but soon turns to rocks/boulders and mud. After about 5 miles or so, it is a pretty rough ride for a long time. In most places there is no place to pull over. We did find a moose but she was mostly hidden in some brush just munching away, oblivious to the many spectators she had drawn. As we found in Yellowstone, every time we (the tourists) found interesting wildlife, the rangers would arrive within minutes and shoo everyone back into their vehicles. Today would be no exception.
So we moved on.
We were surprised to find an osprey sitting on a nest. We thought they were just Florida birds, but I guess they like cold weather and high altitude too.
In a very narrow section of the road, we saw what I guess would be considered a large herd of elk (probably 12 or more), males and females, all walking in a line far far off in the distance, hundreds of yards from us and no place to stop. Plus we were on the opposite side of the road as them. Traffic was bumper to bumper in each direction with most of us trying to get a glimpse of the magnificent sight. We didn't even try to get a picture, but I made this in order to remember it in my mind.
Let's zoom in, of course.
The sky was looking a little stormy, plus it was almost lunch time. Time to head to Jackson Hole again to find some Good Eats!
We did a little shopping and bought a few souvenirs.
We decided on Hand Fire Pizza for lunch. It was soooo good. It's a very cool, modern cafe style pizza joint. They hand toss the pizza right in the middle of the restaurant in the preparation area. Service was great. We will definitely eat here again if we pass through Jackson Hole in the future. Abby got gluten free and loved it too.
Sometime during lunch, the sky cleared and we had a beautiful afternoon. We drove back out Moose Wilson Road in hopes of seeing the elk again, but they were nowhere in sight, but we did see this.
Since the weather was nice, we thought a hike sounded like a great idea and this place looked perfect.
Abby grabbed a walking stick and off we went.
Just kidding. This one was more her size.
We took the trail that hugged Lake Creek and it was a great hike - scenic and not too many people. It was well marked and had both flat and hilly areas, as well as both sunny meadows and shady wooded sections.
About half way, we crossed over Moose Wilson Road. We really didn't even know where we were going or what to expect when we got there. I think this is the smallest stop sign I've ever seen.
The trail had tall trees, large boulders, bridges over the rushing water, and nice views.
What's up ahead, captain?
We thought we were hiking to a lake, but no sign of it yet. Maybe we took a wrong turn???
We were keeping our eyes open for moose, bears, elk, deer.........
Moose Scat! Maybe they're near!
Al always notices the small details.
And the out-of-the-way things.
This nest was about 50 feet above our heads.
There are several tall peaks nearby - Prospectors Mountain, Albright Peak, State Peak, Mt Meek.....so I'm not sure what we were looking at straight ahead.
We did find some wildlife, but it wasn't a moose or a bear or even an elk. We accidentally came upon two deer and startled them. In all fairness, they startled us too.
We finally found the lake.
It was soooo pretty - definitely worth the walk.
We took some pictures.
And then sat on the bench taking it all in.
There is a loop trail around the lake, but we opted to skip it. Even though this teenager can dance for 8 hours straight, she has limited hiking steps in her.
This little cove was very shallow and had rocks you could step across.
And of course the water, as all the water we've found in Wyoming, is crystal clear.
We took a different trail back to the welcome center and museum. It was nice but not as scenic as the Lake trail. By the time we got back, the museum was closed.
We found another deer not far from the other two. It may be one of them.
They're so magnificent. I could never imagine being a hunter.
Not far from the deer, we heard a thumping sound coming from the ground behind some thick brush. It was kind of a drumming sound. We investigated and were surprised to find a grouse.
By the time we got back to the car, it was late afternoon, but we still had plenty of sunshine so there was still hope for more wildlife.
On our way from the airport on our first day to the car rental place just outside of Jackson Hole, we saw a country road with some sort of yellow flowers covering the fields on both sides. It reminded me of an old fashioned Midwestern day, but where was it? We were jammed in a shuttle bus and really had no idea where the driver was taking us. We expected to go via the highway, but definitely took a detour. Better pull up the Google Map - Google knows everything, right? We'll see........
It took a little trial and error, but we found it.......Spring Glutch Road #224. The flowers were dandelions!
The were still pretty. We loved the fields! The blooms were facing a different direction. We were there earlier in the day a few days ago and I guess they follow the sun? Now the sun is higher too.
The Farm. This is a dirt road, so when cars came by, it created quite a dust bowl. Hide the Camera!
Sometimes the picture does not tell the whole story........
Blue sky overhead.
I just thought this was cool.
Abby took a lot of pictures and tried different vantage points.
I don't remember who took which pictures, but this may be one of Abby's.
This road wrapped around and got us closer to the airport.
I liked the speed limit sign.
Cruising through the airport.
Who knew the Ponderosa was behind the airport?
From the Ponderosa to the Tetons.
Where do all these people live????
I think we drove around this area for about an hour.
We could have spent less time here, but we take a lot of pictures.
Driving past the golf course, we spotted these little guys.
They were having a blast!
Chasing each other back and forth, all over the golf course.
Until they both had enough.
One last pass through before we move on.
Not far from the airport and the golf course, is Gros Ventre Road. It hugs Gros Ventre River for a ways. We weren't too far from 191/89, when we saw a crowd gathered quite a ways off the road.
Abby and I decided to hike over, through tall grass, into a deep wide ravine/gully, across a meadow and onto the plateau. Oh, there's the river again.
What's everybody looking at?
Oh! It's a moose and she's on the other side of the river, so we should be safe from the park ranger! We quickly motion to Al to park the car, grab a camera, and come on over. We need a big lens!
She's on the move and everyone is excited to watch her and get some pictures. There were at least 20, maybe 30 people gathered. Some had really big lenses! She was probably at least 100 yards away.
She gave us different views of her. I even got one shot from the rear of her tinkling. I won't post it - everyone deserves at least a little dignity.
What's that in the brush?
A Baby!!! It's a Baby!!!! How Great is That?!?!?!
You could hear the excitement in the crowd - first in their sounds - Oh - Awe, and then by the sounds of their clicking cameras. All the clicking sounded like a celebrity had just walked into a crowded venue or maybe the sound you would expect at a fast-paced sporting event. Since I'm writing this during the Safe At Home COVID-19 'event', it reminds me of the media gathered around President Trump when they think he's going to say some controversial.
WOW! It just keeps getting better. TWO Babies!!!
They are adorable! A couple of the photographers that we've been talking to think that they're only a few week old.
The stay pretty close to mom. She must be warning them about tourists and how annoying they are always invading their space and stalking them.
She keeps them out in the open for a while and we got a ton of pictures. She is well aware of our presence across the river and even makes eye contact every now and then but doesn't seem bothered by us stalkers. She eventually starts heading upstream and we all follow along maintaining our social distance from them, not that we had a choice. The wide river kept everyone safely apart. Soon she disappears into some brush and most of us leave. Even as we return to our car, I glance back and notice a few are still there waiting for another view. Maybe they got the exciting pictures, but we are satisfied that we got to see this amazing, incredible sight!
Did you know that moose can become aggressive if they are scared or provoked? We rarely hear of moose attacks, but they actually attack more people than bears and wolves combined! Worldwide, hippos injure more people than any other mammal!
We continued out (east) on Gros Ventre Road in search of a huge landslide that our waiter told us about.
It was a pretty drive, but nothing WOW! We saw a few cows and some mountain goats standing on the hillsides, but far off the road. After about a 20 minute drive, we finally reached the landslide.
This area has a fascinating story.......The landslide happened in June 1925! I can't believe it left a mark that has lasted almost 100 years! About 50,000,000 cubic yards of sedimentary rock slid down the north face of Sheep Mountain, crossed over Gros Ventre River and rode up the opposite mountainside about 300 feet - quite impressive. This created a natural dam across the river causing a back up and thereby creating Lower Slide Lake. Two years later that landslide dam failed, resulting in a massive flood that wiped out the town of Kelly and killed 6 people.
If you're interested in seeing this piece of history, we followed Gros Ventre River Road/Antelope Flats Road through Kelly into the National Elk Refuge where we took Forest Road 30400 for a few miles stopping before the lake at a little turnout where we took the pictures. There are also hiking trails there, down a steep embankment.
We spotted this nice place on the way back. Maybe a remnant from the flood?
As we were headed back to town to find dinner and our hotel, we would encounter one more surprise. A whole mess of deer frolicking and feasting alongside the road, almost where we saw the moose earlier.
The above image was taken by Al from the car as I jumped out to get better shots. There were about a dozen or more deer to choose from. I wanted to capture them all.
I found them to be so majestic and carefree in the evening light.
I had such a great time following them with my camera and clicking off shot after shot after shot.
I think this guy really liked me - smiling, showing off for my camera. He was terrific! These are some of my favs.
We were so lucky to arrive at just the right time.
We have been so fortunate to see so much wildlife these past few days. This just makes me want to do more trips like this.
I just love nature. These are memories to last a lifetime, and especially now that I've written about them.
We took the long route back to town, just looking for any more wildlife that might be lurking just before sunset. No luck.
We stayed at the Springhill Suites Marriott just across from the Market at Vertical Harvest, which was a very interesting place.
The front of the building was all glass and filled with plants growing on rotating (rotisserie style) shelves with various colors of lights changing every few seconds. It was very cool to watch.
Our room was nice and fairly spacious with a sitting area.- good thing because that was a night we needed to bring in all our luggage and repack for our upcoming Utah adventure. Utah was sure to be much warmer than Wyoming.
A few months later, I stayed at another Springhill Suites in Ocala Florida and the room was exactly the same, but without the hydroponic vertical farm across the street.
We ate dinner at Snake River Brewing. It was a fun atmosphere and a nice restaurant with good food.
We got up early, re-packed the car and headed west. Not far into our drive to Idaho, we found a treasure alongside the road.
This is the closest we've been to a mountain goat.
We were on one side of the street and he was on the other. We tried not to spook him so that we wouldn't cross the street into traffic - not that there was much.
Well, he's off. He's done with us so up the mountainside he goes. Thanks for nice pics, guy! Have a good life.
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