Are We Done Yet?

Day is Done, Gone the Sun (Almost)

Mount Moran

Is this day done yet? It’s been awesome but I’m starting to get tired. The views have been amazing and I saw a little wildlife. It was a lot of driving!

Prong Horn

That pronghorn trotting down the center line was just about the frosting on the cake. Talk about a close encounter! Its just a little bit farther to Moran Junction and from there home to Teton Village.

Mule DeerThis day is Not Done with me yet

I passed through the park exit to reach the Visitor Center and Moran Junction. As I crossed over the little bridge near the Visitor Center I noticed a car pulled to the shoulder. What are they looking at? Tired as I was I couldn’t pass up checking it out.  There were 2 beautiful mule deer standing in the field near the river.

 

Mule Deer and MeMule Deer

The deer were as still as statues. As I sat watching I began to wonder if someone had put a decoy out there. Not even the ears were moving.  I watched some more. Finally one took a step. The other continued to stare at me all that way across the field. I wished for the binoculars that I forgot to pack or my big lens. I only had my  300 mm. It’s good but not for that far away.

The Proof is in the photo

Finally I got out of my car and walked across the road. It got me a little closer but the deer didn’t spook. I braced myself against a tree trunk and opened the lens up all the way. Voila! This is what I got. They are certainly a healthy looking pair. But now it was really time to head back.

2 mule deer

The Sleeping Indian

As I pulled into Teton Village I spotted a mountain formation known as the Sleeping Indian. You can see the headdress. The 2nd mountain is like his breastplate. Can you see it?

Sleeping Indian

Jenny Lake Junction

Beautiful Jenny Lake

Jenny Lake

Heading toward the Tetons I had Jenny Lake in my plans for my next stop.  My Gaperguide was busy pointing out the various canyons  I could see from the road and the trail heads. Death Canyon, String Lake , Granite Canyon, Lupine Meadows were just a  few hikes accessible from the inner loop. The Jenny Lake area is undergoing reconstruction. The Jenny Lake Turnout was open with lovely views of The mountains and lake.  The wind was beginning to blow so wandering around was starting to get chilly. It was late afternoon so I decided it was time to head back to the resort.

A Prong Horn Surprise

Pronghorn herdBetween Jenny Lake and the park exit there are a series of plains and other small lakes such as  Taggart Lake.  There are pull outs and observation stops along the way. The late afternoon scenery was beautiful. As I motored along admiring the view I spotted a large number of cars pulled over. People were standing by their cars or the side of the road. I wanted to see what had everyone’s attention so I pulled over too. This was my first experience with the wildlife lookers. It was a “critter jam”. The folks weren’t just tourists. Some were serious photographers. Some people seem to have access to a phone app or maybe an alert system of some sort letting them know when there are animals to be seen. 

Here he comes!Prong Horn Buck

This group was watching a small herd of pronghorns. They were fairly close to the road making it easy to get photos from the car. It reminded me of the vacation in South Dakota. The prong horn were everywhere out there. As I was shooting the pronghorns from my car I became aware of a bit of commotion ahead of me. People were scattering and I heard clattering on the pavement. I barely got my lens pulled in when a Prongthorn buck came trotting down the center line between all of the parked cars. Surprise!. We were all up close and personal with this little buck.

Mormon Row and Antelope Flats

PronghronMormon Row and Antelope Flats Turnoff

Back on Route 89 I passed Airport Junction and Moose Junction before coming to the Antelope Flats turn off to Mormon Row.  Just before I reached the turn there was another pulloff with views of the Tetons. As I pulled in I noticed a herd of Pronghorns getting ready to bed down for the day.

Mormon RowMormon Row

Mormon Row, so named for the members of the Church of Latter day Saints, who  homesteaded the area in the 1890’s is a photographer’s destination. Photographers from around the world stop by T. A. Moulton’s barn to capture this iconic historic structure with the Teton Range in the background. According to Flickr this is the most photographed barn in America. Of course I had to join the crowd and add my photos to the many others taken here.

 

Moulton Barn with Tetons in the background

Antelope Flats

Mormon Row in located in Antelope Flats. My Gaperguide was stressing this often overlooked area. Antelope Flats Road is a spectacular route that takes you through sagebrush flats and over rolling plains. This tract of land lies in the path of a primary migration route for pronghorn, bison, and the largest elk herd in the world. As you view the old homesteads you can feel like you’ve been transported back in time. You gain a glimpse of the Old West.

Old Homestead in the shadow of the teton Range

Wildlife of Antelope Flats

The list of wildlife to be seen here is long and varied, wolves,  badger, coyotes, and fox as well as the bigger animals. It was quiet as I drove slowly along searching. I spotted more pronghorn in the distance and at one stop two chipmunks played in the dry grasses by the side of the road. It’s amazing how completely they blend in with their surroundings. They seem a darker color than the cinnamon colored rodents of New England. I only spotted them because they moved!

Wyoming Chipmunk

Wyoming Chipmunks

New England Chipmunk

New England Chipmunk

Prong Horn Antelope

Gros Ventre slideProng Horns gather at Antelope Flats

Turning  at Gros Ventre Junction will take you to Antelope Flats and the little town of Kelly.  And I do mean little. At the last census there were only 138 people residing there. The little town has a tragic history. On May 18, 1927 the town was destroyed when a natural dam formed by the Gros Ventre landslide two years earlier collapsed and completely flooded the town. The little town never recovered. Today you can see the scar the slide left in the landscape and visit the Lower Slide Lake. There’s also a campground and convenience store.

Between Gros Ventre Junction and Kelly

Mounrt Saint John

I spotted my first wildlife as I traveled down this little side road. I stopped at a turnout overlooking one of the many rivers in the area. Moose habitat but no moose. Moving along I spotted the shortcut to Mormon Row a historic district located in Antelope Flats. I loved the clouds wreathing around Mount St John so I stopped for a series of photos. The road was a mess of pot holes. Back in the car I reached a closed and locked gate. Looks like the short cut is closed for the season. I decided to retrace my steps to the highway. It was on my return trip that I spotted the pronghorn.Prong Horn

It’s just one but its a start

I imagined a beautiful photo of a prong horn antelope with the magnificent mountains in the background but no luck. If I focused on the  antelope the mountains didn’t show and if I zoomed out to get the whole vista the antelope faded away to a tiny spot. I sat watching the lone Prong Horn as it meandered it’s way along the berm. The Prong Horn, like the elk, migrate through Grand Teton National Park as the cold weather rolls in. With luck this would just be the first of many sightings.

 

Is that Snow I See!?

Is That Tiny Snow Flake?

Jackson Hole Aerial TramThe weather report is for snow.  I’ll break out the winter jacket. At least I packed one. I have an appointment at 10 am to pick up a Gaperguide but I also want to take the tram to the top of Rendezvous Mountain. They closed it yesterday because of the high winds. With a storm predicted I’m afraid it will get closed again and this is the last day! The concierge says they have a waffle shack at the top. If I go up when it opens at 9 am I can have breakfast at the summit.  As I watched the tram glide down from the top I saw a tiny flake of snow drift slowly down. That’s it. I’m going up. I’ll just be late for my appointment.

Jackson Hole Aerial TramTram at the Bottom

This is really convenient. The tram is right next door! As I lined up I was surrounded by skiers anxious to get to the top for the new snow. They all planned to have a waffle breakfast too. The tram operator had some bad news for us non skiers. The storm had already started at the summit.  The walking was treacherous. It was all ice and the wind was blowing. He strongly advised that we ride up and come right back down. Going up we all watched for animals. Bears and Moose are often seen on the  mountain but not today.

MountainSide

Still ClimbingSeriously Serious Snow

Once the tram docked I stepped out onto the platform and nearly took a header. My feet could not get any traction at all. I didn’t even make it to the path to the waffle house. Safety First, I reluctantly agreed to skip the waffles and returned back down the mountain. The tram operator recommended a restaurant called the Mangy Moose as a substitute. He said it was close to the tram and had excellent breakfast.

 

Pretty Rugged