Monday, October 1, 2012
Grand Tetons

    27 degrees this morning. I don't quite feel the cold until after we've been out in it a while, but somehow I make it through the day with a t-shirt, sweater and sweatshirt. It's still dark at 7:00 a.m. and not much is open. The elk refuge is dark - too dark to see if any elk are there. Once we pass, a dark form ambles out of the trees at the base of the mountains - a bull moose.
   A jet is taxiing down the runway of Jackson Hole Airport, a somewhat bizarre sight in a national park. I follow it's streamlined form hoping it will take off when I'm distracted by two chocolate brown forms at the base of the mountains - a cow and bull moose. The bull chases the cow in circles - fast. A funny site, a bull running after it's mate. Further down the park road cars are pulled over - more moose, this time two cows and a calf. Even in the shadows of early morning, we find their large forms. Near Schwabacher Landing yet another bull moose is walking through the meadows, chased by two photographers who are too close to the big fellow.
   This morning we hike to Leigh Lake from String Lake, a very pleasant, relatively level trail. It winds alongside the lake's clear, blue-green waters. Not far offshore, an island of rock supports a single tree. Red squirrels chatter as they zigzag in front of us. Meadows are filled sage and the season's last daisies and asters. Mt. Moran hovers over us, a magnificent sight.
   Later in the afternoon we walk around the Church of the Transfiguration, a small log cabin church. Beautiful stained glass windows are on each side of the front entrance. Inside, the pews are made of logs. Menor's Ferry is nearby, the site where settlers were shuttled across the Snake River. A model of this historic ferry waits at the river. A couple of old buildings including one used as a general store and one to house carriages also stand on the site.
   The trail to Taggert Lake is uphill in the beginning then levels out. A sturdy wooden bridge crosses a bubbling stream, then winds upward through leafless aspens. We step aside to let two women on horseback pass on the rocky trail. The horses look like they are walking down steps. The path widens and continues through open meadows of sagebrush to the lake. At the top of the trail, a couple rests on rocks by the small lake, entertained by a chipmunk. It's pretty and peaceful here, sitting on the rocky shore watching chipmunks.
   As the sun begins to set we drive around looking for wildlife. Two bull elk battle over a harem in the Willows not far from the dam. We and other visitors watch though our spotting scopes from the deck of Lake Jackson Lodge as the elk lock antlers and chase each other. A third bull walks across the meadow avoiding the fray while a fourth bull watches over his harem in the willows behind the Lodge. The light fades rapidly at 7:00 p.m.; we drive past the Snake River on our way to Jackson in darkness, the Elk Refuge again hidden in the black night.

Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer

Click for larger image

Yellowstone Experiences 2012