Monday, May 17, 2010

Grand Teton - May 17th

Day 3 didn't start out well since around 10PM the night before we regretted accepting the lower room at Signal Mountain Lodge. The creaks, cracks, talking, and pounding footsteps from the room above kept us up really late. Mental note, NEVER stay in a lower unit at Signal Mountain.

In any case, we were out at 6AM and were greeted by clear skies and 28 degrees. We skipped the typical stop at Oxbow Bend for sunrise photographs since the low water levels reduced the reflection a great deal. In fact, the parking lot was empty when we stopped to scan the area for wildlife. I can't say I have ever seen the parking lot empty at sunrise before.

We didn't see any wildlife at all (except the usual elk, deer, and bison) until we hit Antelope Flats.

We were hoping to find some moose and we were in luck. The first one we saw was running in the sage. While moose run a bit awkwardly, they can run fast so it was fun watching this one. We turned on the road to the Teton Science school and stumbled upon another moose in the sage that we almost drove by without noticing. They sure can hide when the want to:

About 20 yards up the road on the other side, we found another moose hiding in the sage:

We rounded off the early morning by seeing a couple coyotes, a grouse in the the sage, and a small herd of pronghorn. After a nice big breakfast, we decided to take advantage of the weather and try yet another new hike. The low snow levels this spring made the Hermitage Point trails open for the first time for us in May. The trails in this area provide great opportunities to see wildlife and the views are tremendous:

We were all prepared to do a nice long loop trail. But, about 3/4 of the way around the loop, we hit a dead end. The bridge was out and the mud and water were just too wide to get through without some serious muddy and wet feet.

So, we turned around and headed back the way we came. We actually didn't mind at all since the trail was uncrowded and very peaceful. We saw all kinds of bird life on this hike but only small mammals like this squirrel:

We had a small late lunch of snacks at Cattlemen's Bridge. We looked for the otters that frequented the area but only found a lone muskrat taking grass and weeds to its den.

Later in the afternoon we took a drive down both Pacific Creek Rd (The road to the Two Ocean trail was closed so that hike will have to wait until another trip unfortunately) and Buffalo Valley Rd. We saw a few Osprey on nests but that was about it on both roads. Today ended up being the warmest day of the whole trip with a mid-afternoon temperature of 68 degrees according to the "Squeaky Beast" we rented.

We were both pretty tired later in the afternoon so after getting switched to a new room (Signal Mountain was very accommodating of our request) we had an early dinner with a couple very strong Blackberry margaritas. Needless to say, there was no after dinner driving so we retired early and finally got a good night's sleep.

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