As we begin another week in Southwest Florida of temperatures around 90 degrees Fahrenheit and a heat index around 100, I’m thinking back on a bitter cold morning in Jackson Hole when my fingertips and toes were frozen.
Venturing through Grand Teton National Park with two other photographers, we spotted elk, bison, eagles, trumpeter swans, big horn sheep and a coyote during the day. We also admired the shapes in the snow-covered landscape.
A visual treat of the early morning light was the hoarfrost on the trees along the creek. Rising water vapor coated branches and froze overnight. Before the midday sun melted the ice, we were able to capture some photographs of these crystalline trees.
Continuing with our family theme during this pandemic as we gather only in family groups, I have some recent wildlife photographs to share with you from Wyoming. My friends and I spotted a mother with her yearling as well as male Big Horned Sheep nearby. The location was the Elk Refuge in Grand Teton National Park in Jackson Hole, a wonderful place to visit in any season.
Best wishes for continued good health to all as we stay home and minimize the spread of the Coronavirus.
I’m the first to admit that I like to sleep in. Waking up to a buzzing alarm clock when it’s dark outside is NOT the way I like to start my day, especially when it’s cold outside. Proof positive that I braved the dark and the cold and forced my sleepy body out of bed at 6am in Jackson Hole is this photo of Rendezvous Mountain at sunrise. As you can see, I was in position to take this sunrise exposure before the first skier appeared on the slopes.
With the temperature only reaching 8 degrees Fahrenheit, my toes felt like blocks of ice in few minutes outside, so I got back in the car to look for some wildlife. We found some bald eagles in short order!
Temperatures might still be below freezing in Jackson Hole with the lakes covered in a thick coating of ice and snow, but the Trumpter Swans find the perfect spot to keep warm and well fed — in the hot springs.
There is a fine mist rising from the hot springs, as the air is around 25 degrees Fahrenheit. The lakes and parts of the Snake River are frozen solid, showing moose tracks across the surface. Last night, we got 7″ of fresh snow.
It’s no coincidence that the ducks are swimming near the swans. They have a symbiotic relationship, as the swans foraging makes it easier for the ducks to forage as well. The swans reach underwater with their long necks, stirring up the underwater ecosystem. Both species can find plenty to eat here.
We interrupt this close examination of bison 😉 for a wider view of the landscape in Grand Teton National Park. Grand it is! How glorious are the vistas of the wide open spaces. In this image, we see a lone tree punctuate the snow covered flat lands at the foot of the steeply rising Grand Teton mountains.
In February, it was bitter cold and windy with many nighttime temperatures dropping into negative numbers (-25!). Snow pack is higher in the mountains than in the lower Snake River Valley, but many low lying roads and areas accessible during the Spring, Summer and Fall are off limits now. During our week in Wyoming, we picked up an additional 7” to everyone’s delight. Then, we also enjoyed “bluebird skies” like this in the image. The skiers and photographers were happy.
When you take in the view from the top of Sulphur Mountain in Banff National Park, you can admire the mountain range to the South, if you turn your back to Banff and the Bow Valley to the North. These rugged high peaks in the Sundance Range reach well above the tree line are about 2 miles high. The Sundance Range is part of the Continental Divide.
The Continental Divide is also the border between Canadian provinces Alberta and British Columbia. We were told that it is particularly hard to predict the weather on the east side of the Divide, not knowing if the weather systems flowing eastbound from the Pacific will cross this mountain range. We were lucky to have a clear day to take in the view.
I checked the Sulphur Mountain webcam, and found these peaks covered in snow today!
For my birthday this year, I got a ride on the Banff Gondola, which included an easy hike along a mountaintop boardwalk with views in all directions. At $51 to $63 per person, the excursion is pretty expensive, but I’d say it was totally worth it.
I will be posting some of my photos from the summit of Sulphur Mountain. Today (and everyday) you can check the webcam there to see how the view changes with the seasons. As of October 10, the mountains are covered in snow.
The “street photographer” in me cannot resist taking photos of my fellow photographers when I find myself on location in an amazing landscape. Shooting Bryce Canyon National Park in a heavy snowstorm was one of those occasions. My colleagues Joel and Dennis perched themselves with their tripods pretty darn close to the edge of the cliff.
Both Dennis and Joel are very talented photographers. We have kept in touch and swapped stories over the years.
The first day of Winter may be tomorrow December 21, but the icy cold weather is already here. When I go outside to walk my dog in Sewickley PA, I think about what Niagara Falls looked like after an exceptional winter in April 2015. Brrrr.