Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Grand Teton - May 20 & 21, 2008

Well, we woke up Tuesday to another beautiful day. We knew this weather wouldn't last because the forecast was for rain and snow for the foreseeable future. I wanted to get some sunrise shots of the barns (it is a must and I didn't have any) plus we were hoping that Schwabachers Landing would be open.

So, we headed out towards Oxbow Bend and encountered two moose at the pond just before the dam (there was almost always a moose here each time we passed). The sun hadn't come up at Oxbow yet so we continued past and headed south from the Moran entrance. On the way down, we saw our first pronghorn and they posed long enough for this shot:
Pronghorn and the Tetons

On to the barns for some morning shots:
Moulton Barn

Schwabachers Landing was still closed to cars, but we knew that this was our last chance to see it in good weather so we parked outside the gate and walked down. I am really happy we did this because we had the place to ourselves on an exquisite day. That will probably never happen again. We saw muskrat, goldeneyes, cinnamon teals (who insisted on rippling the water for my reflection shots) and hawks. But, of course, we were there for the views:
Schwabachers Landing

Our decision to walk down was a good one because as we were wrapping up, we heard the sound of heavy machinery and saw the first car at the bathrooms. Yup, they opened up the road down. Oh well, we had it to ourselves for a while at least. We headed back to the lodge for some food.

Since "walking the road" paid off before, we decided to walk up Signal Mountain after breakfast since that road was also still closed. That hike was enjoyable but less rewarding. We saw lots of birds but no mammals. Also, the snow on the road stopped us short of the summit. I did manage to get this shot from the lake area on the way up:
Great Blue Heron

We wanted to see some elk calves so we headed down to the reserve to see if any were there....but none were. We decided to go back via Gros Ventre Rd. We pulled over after spotted a bull moose across the river. After walking down a ways to get a clear shot I looked down at our side of the river to see this:
Moose Family

A mama moose and two yearlings. Probably the same ones that others have seen in this area. Hopefully, their coats will grow in quickly...

The last highlight of the day was a tremendous spot by Karen. As we were driving about 50 MPH headed towards the Moran entrance. She yelled for me to stop because she thought she saw a marmot in a tree. Well, we had never seen a marmot before but me, in my infinite wisdom, proclaimed that marmots live in rocks not trees so she couldn't have seen one. However, she insisted so we turned around and headed back. And...she was right (After 13 years of marriage, you would think I would have realized this already). This marmot had made a home in a hollowed out tree. We were really excited to see our first marmot and never expected to see it in the Tetons in a tree:

Needless to say, after that spot, I turned around whenever Karen thought she saw something and it did pay off more than once.

The day ended with a moose at Oxbow to make it a new record of a 7 moose day.

The next day was pretty much a rainout. We saw a young grizzly near Oxbow:

Then we met some fellow Y-Netters and chatted for a bit. One of them told us about the fox den in Jackson so we now knew how the rest of our day would go.

We waited for the fox for almost two hours in the drizzle and cold (thank goodness it wasn't windy). Since this was our last day in the Tetons and seeing a fox would be a first for us, we knew we would stick it out. Sure enough, we were eventually rewarded with a wet vixen and a glimpse of a kit:

Foxy Lady

It was a great end to the day. We were able to cross off two of our trip goals in one day...a marmot and a fox. The glimpse of the fox kit was gravy.

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