“The grand lift of the Tetons is… a primal gesture of the Earth beneath a greater sky.” - Ansel Adams
Back in the Grand Tetons National Park…
August 14th - “I caught sunrise this morning at Snake River Overlook, where Angel Adams once stood for his moody, iconic shot. Although the sky was crystal clear, the first rays of the new day sun basking the Tetons in pinkish golden glow was nothing short of spectacular! As mist looms off the Snake River amongst the forest below and silence pierces the air, I stand in the presence of grandeur.”
Yellowstone National Park…
August 16th - “I seem to have successfully re-forged my first Yellowstone backpacking visit back in 2015. By this I mean that what was done so hap-hazardously back then, I have re-traced very similar steps around Fairy Falls in the Midway Geyser Basin and in the Lamar Valley while backpacking these past few days. A little more experience, knowledge, and no shortage of good fortune have given me quite an adventure!
I camped off of the Fairy Falls trail two nights ago, enjoying a splendid hike past Grand Prismatic Spring and through young forest growth. Wispy and somewhat enchanting in appearance falling above the meadow wildflowers, I feel Fairy Falls is aptly named. That night I enjoyed the stars in the deafening quiet of the forest, so quiet in fact that it took me some time to hear past the ringing in my ears.
Enjoying camp till early afternoon the next day, I took a mid-day hike out to Imperial Geyser. As it caught my eye enough to warrant setting up my camera, after a couple exposures in dark overcast skies and rumbling thunder the storm was upon me, pelting me with sideways rain! No sooner packing up and trying to keep myself and my gear dry, the most fortuitous break in the sky happened! Clouds parted into big puffy cumuli and rays of sun basked the green hillsides and highlighted the blue, steaming water of the geyser. I raced to set back up and got two more exposures of the drama and thunder kept rumbling and the geyser blew!
I felt quite triumphant, having been hoping to witness a geyser moment worthy of capturing on film. So off I went back out the trail. Halfway back another storm let loose which began to break as I neared views of Grand Prismatic. What a remarkable moment of Nature I was treated to! Sun bathed the Grand Prismatic’s Blue steam bellowing up, highlighted the contrasting stormy skies, and a full magnificent double rainbow appeared, perfectly framing the scene!
Reveling only these miraculous moments I bore witness to, I made my way Northeast to the Lamar Valley. More storms erupted and more moments of magical light adorned my way - I note several places along the way which would be incredible sunrise/sunset viewing platforms of spectacular mountain vistas!
I arrived much later than one would like to my trailhead into the Lamar Valley, but as good fortune would have it I hiked safely here - halfway in the dark by headlamp, noticing a bison carcass not far off the trail and as thunder and lightning rode my heels! But I made it, and probably drier than had I hiked earlier through the torrential monsoons that were occurring moments before I began! As luck would have it, I was treated to a beautiful sunset glow across the valley amidst stormy skies and a safe, peaceful journey to camp.
And upon settling here, the skies were clearing, stars twinkling, and the full moon rose above me, here in the valley of the wolves. It’s glow the most mystical, enchanting silver-blue lighting the landscape around me, purifying me with pure magic in the night. These are moments one will not soon forget!
Waking at dawn this morning, I laid in my hammock watching the pale glow of sunrise slowly cutting through the blanket of mist until I felt the light was going to be quite something on the scene. I meandered down to Cache Creek, which I had also admired by moonglow and mist last night.
Taking off my shoes and socks, slowly and carefully I crossed the chilling stream, feeling quite alive! And behold the image before me of the layers of rock, creek, trees, hills, and valley! Green bathed in gold morning light upon Soda Butte with wispy cloud mist lingering atop the hills and brilliant blue skies! What peace and tranquility can be afforded those who weather the storm! I enjoyed this gaze for quite some time, imagining herds of bison, packs of wolves, a grizzly sal with cubs cresting those hills and how truly special it is to be blessed with Nature such as this!
I have since enjoyed a peaceful morning/early afternoon of hammock time, breakfast and coffee, reading and writing in this awesome campsite! As if I didn’t know before, but I am gaining the appreciation one gets by time spent in the backcountry for how truly spectacular this place is, Yellowstone. Time to hike on and see if perhaps the bison are out grazing in the sunny meadows after last evenings drenching… which seemed to affect them not, haha!
August 20th - catching you on my hike out of the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone - “my hike out was a pure Summer daydream. The sun-soaked meadow, blue skies, and white puffy cumuli painted Mother Nature in such perfect Summer splendor! And yes, the bison were grazing in plenty. On my hike, the main herd was down the valley from me a distance but a few stragglers ventured to pass pretty close by me. And on the drive out of the Northeast section towards Tower-Roosevelt, they were abundant to say the least! Herd after herd as you looked left and right throughout Lamar! Grazing, frolicking, running and rolling around in the dirt, such a scene for the memory!
Shortly before getting back to the trailhead, I had stopped for one more photograph. Where the lush grasses and marshy water had caught my eye the evening before, in the face of Druid Peak rising high above in this valley of the wolves!