Remarkable Heights

April 06, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Moonlight Feels RightMOONLIGHT FEELS RIGHTRoughly 50 minutes prior to sunrise the light from the Harvest Moon was superb: superior to what it looked like later when the sun appeared and lit the mountains. The 26 degree air temperature created lovely frost, large areas of valley fog and some steam over the water. 75 second exposure.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
"The most remarkable heights in the great backbone of America..."

That's how Alexander Ross, a 19th century fur trader, described Grand, Middle and South Teton. I'm with Ross, but why stop with the three Tetons? The whole range is extraordinary.

If you've seen these mountains, you know how magnificent they are. If you haven't, they're a bucket list item for sure. 

The eastern profile of the Tetons is what sets them apart from most other ranges in that there are no foothills. The sight of massive, jagged Orange CrushORANGE CRUSHMount Moran is rendered as mysteriously spectral thanks to thick haze from distant wildfires and low clouds which seemingly clutch it: a wonderful backdrop for aspens at peak color.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
peaks rising from level land is striking. (They're actually still rising, and at a fairly rapid rate, geologically speaking.) The Teton Fault was, and is, the sculptor: running along the base of the range, the fault pushed upward on its west side to create the mountains, while the eastern side dropped down into the valley. The shifting continues.

This is a textbook example of a fault-line mountain range. It's also a textbook example of jaw-dropping magnificence.

For nature photographers, it can be challenging to "think smaller" when creating compositions involving something so imposing. The Tetons demand attention. Still, if you spend any amount of time with them, you'll probably find yourself thinking about other ways to depict their grandeur as well as the landscape surrounding them. 

There's a time and a place for the panorama, but there are many other alternatives. Let the mountains guide you. Hear what they have to say. 

By the way, while the views from the east are undeniably breathtaking, the western slope of the Tetons isn't exactly chopped liver - foothills and all.

Thomas Moran, for which Mt. Moran is named, never saw the Tetons from the east. (In fact, he never saw the mountain which bears his name.) His only vantage point was from the west, and this is how he described the view:

"The Tetons loomed up grandly against the sky, and from this point it is perhaps the finest pictorial range in the United States if not in North America."

Amen.

If you head over to the pass to the west, you won't mind the foothills there, either. 

WEST SIDE STORYWEST SIDE STORYFollowing a chilly spring, early summer kicks off with substantial snowpack remaining

Western Slope - Teton Range
Alta, Wyoming
I fell in love with the Teton Range the first time I saw it. Little did I know then that one day I would live in its shadow. 

They had to tear me away from New Hampshire kicking and screaming. When the time comes, they'll be tearing me away from the Tetons, too. 

In Local News

Winter is still hanging around. The Pocatello area had 20+ inches of snow on Tuesday.

Closing dates at the ski resorts have not changed: Grand Targhee will remain open through the 16th, while Jackson Hole's last day is Easter Sunday. It's been quite a season. 

If you're wondering whether Grand Targhee's 2022-2023 ski season is one for the record books, the answer is no. Assuming the 4/16 closing remains firm, that'll make it 156 days - the same as Seasons 2019, 2018, and 2016. 500 inches of champagne powder isn't just a marketing tagline; it's the real deal. (And they far surpassed 500 inches this winter.)

In Eastern Idaho, this has been the 7th coldest winter since records have been kept (1939). Because the area also received a great deal of snow, the drought is, for the most part, over. Good news. 

However, the combination of extended cold and copious snow made the season extremely difficult for wildlife. Both mule deer and pronghorn have been ravaged by the severe and prolonged winter. It's estimated that 90% of the Wyoming Range's collared mule deer fawns have died. Idaho Fish and Game initiated winter feeding for deer and elk in some canyons in and around Bear Lake in February. Spring can't come soon enough for the animals.

Yellowstone's opening date is two weeks away. Clearly, they're optimists. The west entrance (which is always first) is scheduled to open on Friday, April 21st at 8am - weather permitting. I'd check before heading there. To sign up for road condition text updates, text 82190 to 888-777. You can also telephone 307-344-2117 to get the latest status.

Happy Easter!


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