Sunday, September 30, 2012
Grand Tetons

    On this crisp fall morning the boardwalks around the geysers are slick; tiny grains of ice cling to wood. Clouds of steam billow up from geysers scattered across the basin. Old Faithful has just gone off, so we walk along the paths through the basin, careful of the ice. A bison grazes high on a hill overlooking the basin, shrouded in mist. Looking west in bright morning sun, the basin stretches out forever, intersected by the Firehole River.
   Old Faithful is about to go off again. Steam billows up in clouds that drift west and up. A ranger is giving a talk to visitors on the boardwalk saying Old Faithful's predictability varies and now goes off about every 88 minutes. We just missed it, so we wait, listening to visitors chat in German, French, and Chinese. When the geyser finally bubbles and shoots water and steam into the sky, the exclamations are universal. Certainly worth waiting for and glorious on this beautiful morning.
    As we travel south the aspen are blazing. Particularly beautiful are those with red-orange canopies, changing to bright yellow, like sunbursts. Some still show green in between yellow and orange leaves. As we get closer to Grand Teton, we see more and more aspen turning. We pass Lewis Lake, its blue water almost touching the edge of the road; then, Lewis Falls, a cascade hidden off the road. The meadows along Lewis River are golden and sprawling. All these pockets of little wonders. We rarely drive to the Tetons, so the area holds at once the excitement of new places, yet a certain familiarity.
   Passing Colter Bay we reach Lake Jackson Lodge. A moose grazes in the meadows behind the Lodge, a large dark spot in tall golden grass. Turning toward Moran Junction, antelope graze in the meadows. At Moran Junction we turn south, stopping several times to admire the view. Despite smoke from recent fires, the day is relatively clear.
    We stop several times to look around and admire the view of the mountain range. A herd of at least thirty horses graze in the fenced off pastures bordering the road. Some are striking with their Indian pony markings. A bay with two white marks on each side, one like a half moon; another, a gray with a blanket of dark gray spots. We stop at Schwabacher Landing and walk along the Snake River. The Tetons in the distance, the path works its way along the quiet river, passing an old beaver dam
   Later we drive the Moose-Wilson Road at the southern end of the park, a tight corridor for vehicles. "Beware of Moose" signs are everywhere. There are supposed to be lots of bears along the Wilson-Moose Road, but we had no luck. Of course we drove it in the middle of the afternoon, a terrible time to see wildlife. This road also passes the Laurence S. Rockefeller Preserve, a 1,106 acre refuge within Grand Teton National Park that includes a trail system and visitors center. Once the site of the JY Ranch, all the land has been restored to it's natural state. The road is narrow and winding and we go by before we realize what we've missed. Hopefully, next time.

Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer

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Yellowstone Experiences 2012