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.
Interesting frozen splashes
03/05/21: Mars Pleiades conjunction over the 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.
Found this group of Bighorn Sheep rams in the Elk Refuge in Jackson.
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.
Fresh snow and strong winds make for an beautiful Teton scene.
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“.
We also come here for the birds.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Cliff Swallows were just starting to build their mud nests under the eaves.
Hit a few of the highlights in Yellowstone.
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!
In the Tetons we took them on the Taggart Lake hike.
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.
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.
Also went on a new hike, Lakeshore Trail at Colter Bay.
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).
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.
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.
We drove to the top of Signal Mountain for more views.
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.
Some wildflowers at our campsite.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Day 2 went hiking along Lookout Lake. Low cloud cover made for some dramatic mountains.
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!
We are always on the lookout for the incredibly cute American Pika.
We didn’t even need to leave our campsite to find wildlife.
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!
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.
The following morning we went to nearby Wind River Lake, the headwaters of the river in our backyard.
Back at the campground…
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.
I’ve always wanted to get a sunset over Brooks Falls and Pinnacles. This is a long exposure creating the painterly sky effect.
9/26/2021: Took a quick ride to Sinks Canyon to check out the fall colors.
10/02/2021: Spent the weekend in Grand Teton National Park.
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.
Back at our campsite
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.
Here is a telephoto shot of the North American Nebula setting 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”.
We believe these unnamed formations are made of bentonite, an absorbent clay created from ancient volcanic ash.
Here Sarcophagus Butte is in the background.
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.
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!