An Afternoon Surprise

lunch of yummy berriesAnother afternoon Moose

The afternoon was waning so I left the little bear to his berries. I planned to continue checking for moose. There’s a swampy area right at the Moose Junction end of Moose-Wilson road. The parking area looks out over the bog. This is supposed to be a great spot for moose but so far I haven’t had any luck here. I pulled in to park for a bit but as the sun slid toward the horizon all was quiet. Time to wrap up for the day.

A Bit of Deja-Vu

Moose in the afternoonAt the end of Moose-Wilson Road I turned right past Moose Junction and the Visitor Center. Taking another right I was back on the main road to Jackson. I’d just passed the Jackson Hole Airport when I saw cars lining both sides of the road. Another critter jam. This time everyone was looking west toward the Teton range. The sun was angling right into my eyes. At first I couldn’t see what everyone was looking at because of the sun. Suddenly I got the angle right and I spotted it. It was another moose.

Moose watchingBull Moose

This was the same area where I saw the last moose but that time the moose was on the left side of the road. This time the road was above the marshy ground on the right side of the road. It looked a lot like the same moose. He was just as unconcerned as the other one too. This time instead of wandering along the side of the road he was meandering toward the road from across the large field. It was hard to get an angle where the sun wasn’t hitting the camera lens directly.

Here Comes Bullwinkle

Moose in the setting sun

As the big guy headed toward me I took as many pictures as I could. Since the field only had some streams and marsh I wasn’t going to get that iconic photo of a moose in a pond but I’ll take what I can get. For quite awhile it seemed Bullwinkle would head right at my car but when he was about half way across the field he changed directions. He was still heading for the road but now he was going to meet up with it way behind me. It was time to move on. My photo ops had passed.


Moose in the afternoon

Antler Arches and The Town Square

Elk Antlers make great Arches

Elk Antler arches are everywhere in Jackson but the main ones are the four corners of the town square. The way into the little park is to enter at one of the arches. These amazing piles of antlers were all collected from the elk refuge once the bulls shed them in the spring  The large male elk grow these impressive horns to attract females during the rut.

Antlers on a large Bull elk

They also spar with other males to exert dominance. Once the successful males have gathered their females (harem ) they will “drop” their heavy head gear in the spring. The boy scouts collect the dropped antlers and sell them at public auction each May. The money raised from the sale of these antlers is funneled back into the Elk Sanctuary in the form of feed for the next winter. Don’t think you can snitch an antler from one of the arches, that’s considered theft and there’s a $750.00 fine! Sanding under the archway is a great place for a “selfie”.

Antler Arch in Town Sq. Jackson WY

entrance to gakkeryNext Up, Mangelsen Nature Gallery

I don’t have many famous photographers that I follow. I’m happier with local talent. They are approachable and easy to talk to, sort of. As long as I don’t let myself become too awe struck. Of course there are the National Geographic photographers. I couldn’t tell you any of their names but I admire their work. Which brings me to Thomas D. Mangelsen. I’ve admired many of his photos. They’ve served as both my challenge and my inspiration. He has a gallery right there in Jackson. Of course I had to stop in. Because of copy-write laws I can’t show you any of his photos here but follow this link. I promise it will be worth it. You’ll find my favorite photo of all time in the Legacy Reserve Collection. Can you guess which one it is? See the brown bear catching the fish while standing in the falls? That’s THE PHOTO, my absolute all time favorite. I can just imagine the challenge, the patience, the number of close but not quite shots. And he did with film! Not a digital camera. Amazing!

Return to Moose Falls

Moose Falls in Yellowstone

My first stop in Yellowstone was Moose Falls. Yes I’d been here yesterday but I wanted to find the trail to the bottom of the falls. I must have missed it yesterday and since today I was concentrating on waterfalls, it seemed appropriate to take another look. 

Crawford Creek Bridge

Over the Edge

After careful scrutiny I found what seemed to be a possible trail. As I tentatively started along it I saw that it soon started down along the rock face right next to the falls. The rocks made a series of rough steps. I moved carefully until I was almost at the bottom. I just couldn’t make myself take that last step. It was a bit bigger drop/step so I settled on the almost bottom.

Moose Falls

Sunlight, friend or foe

The early morning sun was slanting over the falls at a pretty steep angle. It wasn’t high enough to actually hit the falls yet but it was high enough to be heading right into my camera lens. Well, you can’t always get what you want so I decided to try to play with the light a bit and see what kind of results I could get.

Falling Waters at Moose Falls

A Pretty Falls

This is such a pretty falls when you get down near the bottom. There appears to be a cave behind the falls. I’m just guessing as I couldn’t get over there to verify it. Since the sun wasn’t filling the gorge yet I was able to get a slower shutter speed to make the water frothy and soft. A little different angle and the sun rays created a colorful series of bokeh spots.

Dawn at Moose Falls

If You Go

It was really nice sitting there next to the waterfall watching the sun peak over the edge. I could have stayed there for hours but there were other falls calling to me. If you go the Yellowstone, Moose Falls in located just inside the South entrance. The stream that creates  the falls is Crawfish Creek. There’s  parking in a pull off just over the bridge and it’s an easy walk to the falls.

Crawfish Creek over Moose Falls

Is there a Photo Opportunity Here?

Moose are high on my Photo Wish List

A moose photo is a challenge, at least for me. They are solitary creatures. Moose are the largest species in the deer family. The males have huge flat antlers. Other members of the deer family have treelike branching antlers. Moose are called Twig Eaters. It’s their ability to survive on twigs and browse that gave them this nick-name but they are also well known for eating tons of  aquatic plants when they can find them. My first moose picture was in Maine in the summer of 2012.

Nice moose – bad picture. My 2nd chance came in Alaska in 2013 from a moving bus while the moose scrambled up a dirt bank.

Is this my chance for The Moose Picture?

If you’ve followed my blog for long you know that I went to Maine in June of this year (2017) to try to get an iconic moose photo for my wildlife collection. I saw moose but they were pretty mangy looking.

A Moose heading for the trees

They were also by the side of the road. One thing about wildlife photography is that there’s a lot of luck involved. You need to be in the right place at the right time and hope the animals cooperate. Now here I was once again on the side of a road, camera in hand, hoping for that picture that would let me cross MOOSE off my list.

It’s a Moose on the Loose

As I reached Gros Ventre I ran into the biggest traffic jam yet. I kept driving but very slowly. I didn’t see anything. Then about halfway down the gauntlet of cars I saw it, a massive bull moose. He was in no hurry, or so it seemed. I saw the antlers first. The afternoon sun reflected off them but his dark coat seemed to blend into the brush. I expected him to head for the hills.

Come on Mr. Moose

Hey Mr. Moose give me a something worthwhile. I tried. He was certainly handsome enough. A nice shiny coat, big antlers and he was just strolling along. I snapped picture after picture but I just couldn’t capture the image I was looking for. I guess my moose photo quest will continue.

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.