Wyoming Blog 2021

01/01/2021: If you’ve follow my blog, you know about Sinks Canyon State Park. Here is “The Sink” in winter.

Sinks Canyon winter
"The Sink"

Interesting frozen splashes

Sinks Canyon State Park Wyoming
"The Sink"
Sinks Canyon State Park Wyoming
Sinks Ice closeup
Sinks Canyon State Park Wyoming
Sinks Ice closeup

03/05/21: Mars Pleiades conjunction over the Tetons

Mars Pleiades conjunction over Tetons

03/27/21: Took another brief trip over to the Tetons. We saw several moose. This one is a bull moose taking a midday siesta.

Bull moose at Tetons
Bull moose
Bull moose at Tetons
Bull moose

Found this group of Bighorn Sheep rams in the Elk Refuge in Jackson.

Bighorn Sheep rams Jackson Hole
Bighorn Sheep
Bighorn Sheep ram
Bighorn Sheep ram

I’m not proud of this, but I now feel like a Paparazzi. We were driving past the Shane Cabin ruins when THERE HE WAS! I spotted the world famous Dr. Jackson Crawford recording one of his iconic outdoor YouTube videos and just had to snap a photo.

Dr. Jackson Crawford at the Shane Cabins
Dr. Jackson Crawford at the Shane Cabins

Fresh snow and strong winds make for an beautiful Teton scene.

Teton range
Teton range
Grand Teton and Teewinot
Grand Teton and Teewinot

5/14/21: For our first camping trip of the year we went to Weeping Rock Campground near Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge. We like this campground because it is small and quiet and, of course, it has the “weeping rock“.

Weeping Rock Campground
Weeping Rock
Weeping Rock Campground
Weeping Rock

We also come here for the birds.

White-faced Ibis
White-faced Ibis
Eared Grebes
Eared Grebes
Northern Flicker
Northern Flicker

For about 20 years, I owned a top-of-the-line bird photography lens. A couple of years ago I sold it because it was getting too heavy for an old man like me to carry for any significant distance. I purchased a much cheaper and lighter weight telephoto lens. Sadly, I wasn’t happy with the lens’s sharpness and haven’t used it much. However recently I learned some new camera settings and new techniques especially to shoot birds in flight. I thought this would be a good location to try it out again.

For several years we’ve known about a Ferruginous Hawk nest and have photographed it in the past with fledglings, but I’ve always wanted to get an in flight Ferruginous Hawk photo.

Ferruginous Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk

There were 5 species of swallow at our campsite. One evening I saw them flying very close to the surface of the water. I assumed they were feeding on mosquitoes or other insects just above water level. Swallows are not only very fast, but they change direction abruptly, but I had a lot of fun trying (and finally succeeding) to get flight shots.

Violet-green Swallow
Violet-green Swallow
Barn Swallow
Barn Swallow

Periodically a swallow would hit the water briefly. It appeared that they just skimmed the water as if to get a drink or pick off an insect. However, then I got this sequence of a Violet-green Swallow at 10 frames/second. Notice the center frame shows the swallow is completely submerged underwater!

Violet-green Swallow dive
Violet-green Swallow dive

5/28/21: This weekend we took Candy’s nephew and his wife on a whirlwind tour of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. We stayed in a cabin at a working dude ranch, Heart 6, with a great view.

Heart 6 Ranch

Cliff Swallows were just starting to build their mud nests under the eaves.

Cliff Swallows

Hit a few of the highlights in Yellowstone.

Old Faithful
Grand Prismatic Spring
Oval Spring
Grand Geyser
Bison with "Red Dog"

We’d been to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone many times but never late in the day. I always thought the light would be terrible with the sun in our eyes. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It was spectacular. The sun backlit the mist from the falls and bounced off the canyon wall causing a bright yellow color cast on the rocks. It’s easy to see where the name Yellowstone came from!

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

In the Tetons we took them on the Taggart Lake hike.

Taggart Lake Trail
Taggart Lake
Taggart Lake
Taggart Lake

6/5/2021: For 2 years I’ve been trying to capture the entire 180 degree summer Milky Way arch. It has been very challenging because for the sky alone it takes 32 frames that have to be stitched together and at least 6 for the foreground. Here the foreground is the amazing view from the Firehole Canyon Campground in Flaming Gorge. I’ve been trying for this composition for over 2 years, but always had cloudy skies. This year that was again the case. However, just the night before, I finally succeeded in capturing the Milky Way arch back home. So I composited it into this foreground exactly where it would have appeared. The green stripes are not aurora, but a phenomenon called air glow. This was the first time I witnessed air glow so bright as to clearly see it with the naked eye. This file is huge, about 2 GB, and I plan on printing it at 30″ x 80″ to hang above our living room.

Firehole Canyon Milky Way

6/20/21: For our anniversary weekend we stayed at a new campground for us, Colter Bay in GTNP. This was the view after only a 50 yard walk through the woods from our campsite.

Tetons and Jackson Lake

Also went on a new hike, Lakeshore Trail at Colter Bay.

Arrowleaf Balsamroot
Lupine

Those of you who follow my blog know I love finding, photographing and identifying wildflowers. Up until now, my photos were nothing special, just “ID” shots. I decided to start trying more macro shots with a dreamy or painterly look, all done in camera, not with photoshop tricks. We found this very tiny and unique wildflower at our campsite. I identified it as Merten’s Coralroot. It is a fascinating member of the orchid family that doesn’t have any leaves or chlorophyll. It gets its nutrition from fungi in the soil (mycotrophic).

Merten's (or Western) Coralroot

6/26/21: We wnt to Bozeman, MT this weekend to hear Jackson give a lecture at the Museum of the Rockies for a traveling Viking exhibit. I didn’t even bring my camera, so these are just a few iPhone photos.

Rock Clematis
Grotto Falls
Undine Falls in Yellowstone

7/4/2021: July 4th weekend we camped for the first time at Signal Mountain campground in Grand Teton National Park. Just as in Colter Bay, a short walk through the woods led to this view.

Tetons, Jackson Lake, Arnica

We drove to the top of Signal Mountain for more views.

View from Signal Mountain
Indian Paintbrush

As many times as we’ve been to the Tetons, we can always find something new. We did the “touristy” thing and took a scenic cruise on Jackson Lake. We learned a few new things and saw some Teton views not visible from land.

Waterfalls Canyon

Some wildflowers at our campsite.

Arnica
Harebell

This weekend was also the first time we did a hike out of the Death Canyon trailhead up to the Phelps Lake overlook. I didn’t know how strenuous the hike would be, so I did not carry my heavy macro lens. Was I ever so sorry. We found at least a dozen new wildflowers along this trail. So, the flower photos here are from my iPhone.

Common Selfheal
Common Toadflax
Spreading Dogbane
Green False Hellebore
Richardson's Geranium
Western Coneflower
Western Monkshood
Phelps Lake overlook

Because the Tetons are viewed facing west, it is very difficult to get the Milky Way core over the mountains. I scouted out this location at String Lake several years ago and this weekend luckily had clear skies and no wind, making the lake a perfect mirror.

String Lake Milky Way

07/17/2021: This weekend we stayed at Porcupine Campground in the Big Horn Mountains. The first few photos were taken along the hike to the Medicine Wheel. We were lucky to find a pair of Mountain Bluebirds feeding young in a cavity in the cliff side.

Mountain Bluebird
Sticky Geranium
Rock Wren
Prairie Smoke
Offerings at the Medicine Wheel
Porcupine Falls
Lupine

7/30/21: If you follow this blog, you know we love Wyoming’s Snowy Range. Every year I try to find a new angle to photograph Lake Marie’s cascade. 

Lake Marie cascade

Each year we try to time it for peak wildflower season. This year on our first hike it looked like we were well past peak, and most flowers were almost gone. Then Candy found this amazing flower-filled meadow.

Paintbrush meadow
Paintbrush meadow
Indian Paintbrush
Indian Paintbrush
Sickletop Lousewort
Fireweed

Day 2 went hiking along Lookout Lake. Low cloud cover made for some dramatic mountains.

Lookout Lake
Elephanthead lousewort
Blue Columbine

Katherine and Candy found a a very tiny but beautiful new wildflower for us. It’s always fun to research it once I get home to find the name. Turns out this is the very poisonous Mountain Deathcamus!

Mountain Deathcamas

We are always on the lookout for the incredibly cute American Pika.

American Pika
Libby Lake
Lewis Lake

We didn’t even need to leave our campsite to find wildlife.

Male Rufous Hummingbird
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Least Chipmunk

8/12/21: I was looking forward to the Perseid meteor shower this year, but Wyoming has been covered in dense smoke from the western wildfires. Candy suggested we go up to 8300 ft elevation to the the Falls Campground to try and get above the smoke. As soon as we unhitched the camper, Jackson spotted a cow moose with twins! What an amazing sight! 

Moose with twins

That night the sky was very clear, but it was the night after the peak of the meteor shower, so I was disappointed in the low number of meteors. Still the Milky Way was clear and bright. This is the northern end of the Milky Way arch over the Pinnacles. The Andromeda Galaxy is very bright in the lower right. The 2 faint red nebulae in the lower right between the trees are called the Heart and Soul nebulae.

Milky Way over the Pinnacles

The following morning we went to nearby Wind River Lake, the headwaters of the river in our backyard.

Wind River Lake
Wind River Lake
Wind River Lake

Back at the campground…

Richardson's Ground Squirrel
Brooks Creek and Pinnacles

The next morning we took Jackson to see one of Wyoming’s secret treasures. It’s a difficult drive, but the sights here are worth the trouble. It is difficult to appreciate just how completely surrounded you are here by magnificent peaks. I thought maybe a video would show it better. This video spans about 300 degrees of view.

Secret Wyoming
Secret Wyoming

I’ve always wanted to get a sunset over Brooks Falls and Pinnacles. This is a long exposure creating the painterly sky effect.

Brooks Falls and Pinnacles sunset

9/26/2021: Took a quick ride to Sinks Canyon to check out the fall colors.

Sinks Canyon
Sinks Canyon

10/02/2021: Spent the weekend in Grand Teton National Park.

View from the Visitor's Center
Bull moose

We found another quiet section of the park to get away from the crowds. When this cattle ranch was abandoned, property ownership reverted back to the National Park.

Hunter Hereford Ranch
Hunter Hereford Ranch
Hunter Hereford Ranch
Hunter Hereford Ranch

Back at our campsite

Gros Ventre Campground

Got to do some nighttime photography as well. This is the view from the Snake River Overlook. The “Great Rift” of the Milky Way aligns perfectly with Cascade Canyon in the Teton Range.

Snake River Overlook Milky Way

Here is a telephoto shot of the North American Nebula setting over the Tetons.

North American Nebula over the Tetons

11/21/21: Went to check out a couple of lesser known sites not far from our home. The first is Castle Rock. There are numerous formations with this title, but this one seems most appropriate. One can actually climb inside and be surrounded by it’s “turrets”.

Castle Rock
Castle Rock

We believe these unnamed formations are made of bentonite, an absorbent clay created from ancient volcanic ash.

Gas Hills formations

Here Sarcophagus Butte is in the background.

Gas Hills formations

11/25/2021: Even though it’s not far from our home, it had been 7 years since we visited Castle Gardens. We decided to check it out on Thanksgiving morning.

Castle Gardens
Castle Gardens
Castle Gardens
Castle Gardens
Castle Gardens
Castle Gardens
Castle Gardens
Castle Gardens
Castle Gardens
Castle Gardens

12/31/2021: Went to Sinks Canyon and tried again to photograph the Popo Agie rapids through openings in the ice. While photographing, I received a text from Candy: “do you realize you’re standing in the middle of the river?” Absolutely, that’s the goal!

The Sinks
The Sinks
The Sinks
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