Amazing, all that you can find in just one day in the Tetons. This post is like skipping a stone along the surface of Jackson Lake. The auditory experience was as strong as the visual. It started for me with an early rise, as it almost always does. I stopped by a small lake adjacent to Lake Yellowstone to photograph the dawn. While I was standing along above the lake a bull elk bugled. It’s one of the most hauntingly beautiful sounds in all of creation. I stayed until the sun broke the surface of the sky and listened. The elk calls have lingered longer than the dawn.
As I passed by the Lewis River I returned to the fog of the lowlands. It coated the surrounding forest with a mystery.
The mountains remained obscured through late in the morning, occasionally giving glimpses of a promise. A young eagle soared beneath the peaks.
While scouting a location for evening photographs we were both surprised and delighted to find one of the Grand Tetons lesser-celebrated mammals, the badger. Teton badger didn’t care, he let make his photograph and follow him around for a bit while he searched for his favorite meal, the ground squirrel.
A storm arose that afternoon. I wanted to exalt in it, like in a Nancy Newhall poem, but the lightning demanded that we seek shelter. We were able to catch a bit of light before the rains came.
We knew the sun would soon be setting and the sky looked as though it might hold some color that evening. We decided to head down towards Gros Ventres, just above Jackson, WY, an area reputed to have occasional moose sightings. We raced against the sun, hoping we might make it to a photographic location and not miss the light.
What did we find there? Several bull moose! The willows were already in shadow, and getting any kind of photograph would be a challenge, but I was able to make one image of a moose feeding that evening. There were a couple of beaver nearby as well.
It was one of the those amazing evenings where you could hardly decide in which direction to turn. Ah, the moose, wait, don’t forget the beaver, look at that sky! Oh, the beavers, try another shot of the moose. Look at that sky! How can even the souls of four friends absorb such beauty? It cannot be contained in the shells of mere mortals. Yet it was all once simply spoken.
While photographing this penultimate scene, coyotes began to howl! The day started with bugling elk and was bookended with howling coyotes. My soul was slain. My Creator knows no boundaries.
The last morning I parted from my friends, for I had to return to rangering in Yellowstone. I stopped at my favorite spot along the Snake River and was greeted by a pair bald eagles. I could no longer speak, for sometimes one can only listen. That still small voice is still revealing mysteries.