Have #Camera Will #Travel Part 2
Last month I posted about our road trip adventure with a focus on Yellowstone. In Part 2, I relate what my oldest son, henceforth referred to as Version 1, and I experienced during the second leg of our tri Grand Tetons National Park.
We slept in on the day we left West Yellowstone, meaning we weren't up hours before the sun. Still, we packed up our gear in the back of the urban assault vehicle and hit the road no later than 10 o'clock. We headed into Yellowstone, planning to make our way to the south exit with hopes of seeing bears and moose after being told that the stretch of highway is a wildlife hotspot.
Our early progress was hampered by a Yellowstone traffic jam––namely, a bison strutting down the middle of the road like a runway supermodel.
These majestic beasts, which I read are the only pure-blooded bison left in the country––other herds having interbred some with domesticated cattle––are truly the rulers of all the survey. I suspect the bison use the roadways as shortcuts between the bountiful flora of Hayden Valley and the hot springs around the geyser basins, where they enjoy the hot steam on frigid mornings.
Later in the morning, we visited Mormon Row and Antelope Flats. The Mormon farmsteads with the Teton Range in the background are visually pleasing. I reckon the scenes could be spectacular in the proper light. On a future trip, I will be sure to visit this area well before sunrise. , this bloke was down in the ditch next to the narrow highway, making it virtually impossible to photograph him safely. Nevertheless, we continued on our way, heartened that the magnificent beast was a harbinger of wonders to come. Soon we had a view of the rugged Teton Range. Even in the poor midday light, the mountains were picturesque. We stopped at Colter Bay next to Jackson Lake––the water level was shockingly lowafuture hoping to stretch our legs on the hiking trails found there. To our disappointment, we discovered practically all the trails closed due to wildlife activity.
Happily, we were able to hike an hour or so down the road at String Lake, a popular kayaking and swimming destination at the foot of the Tetons. It's a fantastic place but did feel overrun by visitors. We hiked the short way to Leigh Lake, an emerald jewel practically devoid of human activity. Version 1 took it upon himself to try to catch the little fish swimming next to the bank. Even after I told him he was much too slow and the fish far too swift for him to catch, he occupied himself for 30 minutes or more. I think he would've kept at it longer, but he was also jumping between rocks along the shoreline despite being told he'd end up hurting himself. Well, he kept jumping until he gave himself a massive purple bruise with accompanying abrasions. The accident ushered in the end of our time at Leigh Lake. We returned to String Lake a couple days later early in the morning and were rewarded with astounding natural beauty without the daunting crowds.
On our first full day in the Tetons, we visited Schwabacher Landing for what photographer Tim Fitzharris calls some of the best mountain scenery in the United States. The location is indeed spectacular, but I can't help suspecting the smoky haze, which became quite bad over our time in the national park, detracted from the scenery's photogenic qualities. Having said that, we had a great time enjoying the sunrise, a moose, and a few lovely birds.
Later in the morning, we visited Mormon Row and Antelope Flats. The Mormon farmsteads with the Teton Range in the background are visually pleasing. I reckon the scenes could be spectacular in the proper light. On any subsequent trip, I will be sure to visit this area well before sunrise.
Antelope Flats is a gravel road traversing a meadow that's full of lupines and bison in June. Being August, we didn't see any bison or blooming lupines, but we encountered pronghorn from a distance. Not having experienced these critters in person before, I was pleased with the excursion, but Version 1 pined for closer encounters.
We did end up having some incredible wildlife experiences closer to our VRBO. At Moose Junction, essentially pull out on a back road out of the park, we saw moose on several occasions and even a black bear, although at a great distance. In fact, while walking around the VRBO's grounds, we stumbled upon a cow and her calf munching on leaves while enjoying some shade. We were practically too close for comfort. On top of that, we also happened upon no fewer than four foxes around the condo buildings.
Our next morning excursion took us to Oxbow Bend. Honestly, Schwabacher Landing might possess more splendor, but we had far better lighting conditions at this bend in the Snake River. Later, we returned to String Lake to photograph the mountains reflecting off the water.
* Version 1 was still jumping rocks with camera in hand after falling into the water and bruising himself two days before.
On our final day in the park, we visited the Snake River Overlook to re-create Ansel Adams's famous photograph. We were deeply disappointed. Wildfire smoke ruined what otherwise may have been an acceptable sunrise.
We left Grand Teton National Park for home shortly after that bittersweet and practically nonexistent sunrise. I was anxious to throw myself back into writing book two in Allison Lee's adventures, and Version 1 had a soccer tournament. Incidentally, I'm happy to report I've practically finished the rough draft of book two, and Version 1's team won the tournament.
Overall, our national park adventure was a great time, despite the smoke. As far as we can tell, neither of us contracted the plague. Lastly, I recommend the book National Park Photography by Tim Fitzharris. Not only are the photo hotspots well documented with easy-to-follow directions, but all are also accessible either by car or after a short hike.
In the next couple of months, I might post a few more pictures once I have time to process a batch.