Tuesday, March 31, 2009

1-March 31, 2009
This morning I decide it is a great time to see what I am able to do. It is nearly 3 weeks since my surgery and I am getting cabin fever. Vicki would not approve so I am out about a quarter to 7:00 and she is still asleep. I stop by Kathy's Coffee for a cup to go and am greeted by many well wishers there who declare it is good to see me. I'm thinking, "It is good to be seen". Its good to know you are missed. But that is Dubois for you. It is beginning to get light when I stop to visit these two horses. The one seems to be asking about when is Spring coming? It is windy and 20 degrees. That hot coffee sure hits the spot.
2-March 31, 2009
About 8 miles west of town I come onto a number of elk just crossing the hiway. They are a little distressed with my presence and a number of them are not sure which way to go for a while. I am shooting away and get some great pictures including this cow who is sitting in the barrow pit just off the hiway.
3-March 31, 2009
They finally get things sorted out and are off over the fence and have calmed down a little as they make their way through the sagebrush and off towards the river.
4-March 31, 2009
Just down the hiway it is geting light enough that I can see elk on every hill, below me along the river and in draws leading on up into the mountains. There has to be upwards of 1,000 head all together.
5-March 31, 2009
I have a great time just sitting in my truck and watching them. What a life.
Last night my wife and I watched on PBS the special on Jim Jones, the famous kool-aide preacher. It is so hard to imagine how folks were taken in by him in the name of religion to end up the way they did. What a manipulative power starved individual he was. Can't quite get over the thought though of how so many were taken in by him. It really boils down to their blind faith in a person and not any of them ever questioning his message. They must never have had any bible study or a way of independant thoughts. If any of them had simply checked out the gospel themselves and understood what Gods message really is they would have seen how wrong his message was. What a responsibility we ourselves have to know that message. That seems to be the hardest thing for folks to get through their heads. The real Jesus is made so real and explained so well in the new Testament. Not only in the life He lived to set as an example but the whole explanation of the "so called mystery" of Him as is further explained through out the Gospels and writings of Paul, Peter and the other apostles. What a great message. What a great hope.
6-March 31, 2009
I finally go on up the road but not too far as the mountains are really socked in and snowing. The DuNoir has some blue sky directly overhead but the peaks to the north are hidden beneath the veils of snowfall.
7-March 31,2009
Windy Peak just south of Dubois is catching a little light from the early morning sun and is a beautiful misty blue through the snow squalls that are passing through. Again this horse on the Cross Ranch must be wondering about spring. The only evidence of spring is that there is open water on the river.
8 March 31, 2009
I return to where the elk are and resume shooting a number of pictures. I manuever to a position to where I can get a number of elk silhouetted against the rising sun. It does make for some dramatic lighting.
9 March 31 2009
My coffee is about gone and is getting cold anyways. Vicki will be up and I will be in big trouble for taking off. So, After a few more parting shots I head back down the road. Was sure good to get out again and check out some of this marvelous country side. There were a few spike elk that were still carrying their antlers which is very normal but I did see one pretty nice bull who was still sporting his rack.
Yes. I did get chewed out back home but I fixed breakfast and so am forgiven? I'm sure I will hear yet from my mother-in-law who keeps reminding me that I am not to go out till I am completely healed up. They really do love me.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I glass the Wind River Range to the south looking for the elk there. That herd is usually easy to spot from town and I haven't seen them for a while. This high up I can see more country to the south than from town but see no elk. They definitely have not gone higher up as there has been no snow melt to allow their survival up there. They too may have moved further to the east.
This is from the head of one of those canyons that drop off into the badlands. One would think they had been transported to Arizona or Utah canyon country as they hike these canyons only to find upon rounding a bend that affords a view to the south that the mountains there are nothing like that country.
Not much time to spend out this morning as it is my turn to fix beakfast and that means my famous Buckwheat Pancakes so it is time to head for the house.
I finally do spot several bunches of elk on the slopes of Spring Mountain on the upper left near the large patches of snow. Too far to make out even with the naked eye I am at least satisfied that I have found some. They definitely have moved to the east of where they have been most of the winter. I spot 3 different groups.
There is such a contrast through this area. I love driving this road and hiking some of these canyons that drop off pretty steeply into the Dubois Badlands. Another unworldly area that makes this country so special. As on all these peaks to the north, snow is blowing off the east face of Boedicker Butte.
There are many peaks to the north in the Absaroka range that stand out against the clear sky. If it seems cold where I am at it really looks brutal up on the Cathedral Peaks. The wind is really pushing snow from their tops far out off their east faces.
I am looking for elk on the ridges north towards the Winter Elk Range. They were so easily spotted just several weeks ago but have seemingly moved from where I had been watching them. In this wind there are not many critters about but I do spot thsi small herd of Deer below me. As I drive along there are a few Horned Larks that take flight dipping and gliding ahead of me only to light in the road where they have to again move on as I approach. This repeatedly goes on far down the road.
The Ramshorn is completely bathed in the light of this clear but cold day. The wind is ripping and the temperature is 12 degrees. It belies the comfort of this scene
March 7, 2009
This morning I didn't get as early a start as I wanted. The sun is rising earlier all the time and I have to do the weather recording for the U S Weather bureau around 7:00. That gets me off a little later than I would like so by the time I climb the hill out of Dubois along the Skyline road[locals refer to this road as the dump road as it passs by the town dump which was incidently named the most scenic dump in America. I don't know who came up with a contest? like that or just what the qualifications were. I must admit it is set in a very scenic spot with quite a view round about.]This road is not much more than a cow trail beyond the dump but the vistas are amazing. The change in landscapes from high desert to glacial ridges upwards to nearly 14,000 feet[Gannett Peak, Wyomings highest point]offers as scenic a drive as any where in America.
It is now 8:30 and I am calling my morning sojourne over. A few last pictures befor I get back on the hiway includes this view of Linclon Ridge in the Absarokas to the north with the Dubois badlands in the foreground. Could heaven sport a better more beautiful scene?
On the way back out of the valley I come across a small herd of deer with this buck who is still carrying one antler. This is the only deer this morning that I have seen with any antlers. I am sure I have been looking at some buks but they have pretty much shed all their antlers now. Was really looking hard back up the canyon for the moose that are present there every year but have not seen one this winter. I would like to get back up there and beat around the brush and see what I could find. Tracks or Moose themselves. Maybe in the next few weeks I'll just have to make a point of doing that.
This is the only open water I find on Torrey Creek and it has a sheen of ice from last night. It was 7 degrees in town this morning though there is supposed to be a warming trend the next few days. Even now the temperature is all ready in the mid 20's and though it feels pretty cold in the shade of the valley it has a warm feel to it when the sun does hit you. Just the angle of the sun at this time of year makes its warmth noticable.
In the basin itself I encounter several groups of deer and they are all pretty busy with breakfast. They seem to pay me no mind as I even try whistling trying to get them to raise up. Even in feeding something scratches.
I pass the still frozen lakes and slowly the road turns into the valley behind Whiskey Peak where the largest Bighorn Sheep herd in the world congregate for winter. No sheep this morning. The lakes are still deeply frozen and it is a cold looking glacier at the head of the valley that is the birthplace of Torrey Creek that I am following. I have spent some awfully cold days and nights just below that glacier and that includes summer trips that were trips seemingly out of Hell as described by some of the participants I was with. It is still memories of extreme beauty and I would not have it any other way.
The winter sun is slowly climbing into the sky and I too am climbing in elevation and enjoying the light on the Absarokas to the north.
I contiue up the road and about every mile or so there are groups of Mule Deer affording me with many opportunities for great pictures in great scenery. The deer sure find these glacial boulder fields interspersed with Limber Pine, Juniper, sage and numerous forbs to their liking. It is good protection from the elements and good browsing. This youngster is interupted by me but seems to be amused with what I am doing.
It is barely light enough but I try photographing this bunch who don't seem to enjoy my presence and are moving out fast including this fawn from last year who must seriously believe he is about to be left by everyone else.

February 22, 2009
Saturday morning and it has been a while since I have gotten out except for climbing the hill above the house where I have enjoyed glassing and keeping track of a number of elk herds I have spotted in the hills above town. I am now having a hard time finding any of them. We have had no snow this month to speak of but it has been very windy and remained quite cool. Most of the wildlife are high up on wind blown slopes including the deer that I had been finding so easily. I did watch a herd of antelope some miles away and was surprised to find them so high up and far back. My artist friend, Les had called me a week ago to tell me that quite a herd of them had moved through his place about a week ago. I am sure this is the same bunch.
It is a calm morning though and I am committed to go later this morning to Thermopolis to watch our grand daughter play basketball. It is the last game of the regular season for her and her team. Our daughter, Janet haas been there for several days at a teaching conference sent by her hospital. So it will be a great opportunity to take in the Mexican restaurant there, do up the town and listen to my son-in-law and others inform the referees and coaches of their shortcomings.
I turn off the hiway onto my favorite road leading up to the lakes 3 miles S E of town and am greeted by this sunrise and a herd of about 20 Mule Deer scattered about the hill opposite.
As I turn around and head back towards home I drop back down into the fog but it is dissapating fast. The Tetons stand out majesticlly but it is not that same show I had witnessed just 15 minutes earlier. The last of the fog is now to the east and still worthy of capture by an old artist. I do stop to watch several moose in the Moran Jct. area. They are hanging back in the willows and are too absorbed with morning groceries to pose for me.
I head back over Togwottee and watch that temperature rise even as I cross the 9600 foot pass, By the time I am back in Dubois at 7000 foot elevation it is in the 50's. What a difference location makes.
By the time I reach Antelope Flats I have run out of the fog as it affects the Teton range but am impressed with the sun now burning off the fog to the east and lighting this little timbered island that rises up above the sage covered flat plain that is Antelope Flats.
I usually don't take pictures of paved roads but with no where to pull off in this area I just felt this shot seemed to exemplify the mornings production. The fog here has turned to a hazy frozen mist and with the sun shining through adds a wonderful majesty to the Grand Teton.
Now the sun is on the peaks and has left the valley and the fog has nearly obscured those grand peaks. It still makes this show spectacular through the cottonwoods.
Then the fog becomes a major player. First moving slowly across the base of the peaks then nearly obscuring the landscape as the sun continues to move in and out all seemingly working in unison to make the morning a major production of light and color.
No sooner does the rising sun set the mountains afire then a cloud to the east obscures the sun while allowing it to hit various spots on the valley floor. It is like a stage production of lights alternatingly lighting one point across the valley floor then moving on to another spot. Each time as though it was a well scripted out orchestra or movie-so perfectly planned out.
The sun is now rising and exposing the Tetons to its color giving light. Against the dark foreground of cottonwooods it makes for some pretty spectacular shots.
At Moran Jct the Buffalo River is completely frozen where it empties into the Snake but water is flowing between the ice and snow covered banks of the Snake River itself contributing fog that is lifting from the warmer waters into a cold atmosphere. It creates some spectacular scenery. Just perfect for a photographer or artist.
As I travel towards Moran Jct the sky is coming alive with color and the trees show off their exposure of the last fw days with frost. It makes for great expectations for my morning research efforts. What a sunrise!
January 24, 2009 [1]
This week the weather has been a yo-yo. We began the week with record temperatures. Monday was 61 and tuesday was 60. This morning as I write this it is 16. Yesterday morning temperatures began at 34 and was falling into the teens throughout the day with morning snow of about an inch. Went to bed with a temperature of 10 degrees but awoke with it at 28. It is now snowing and the temperature again falling. Ahh. Winter in Wyoming. As is usually the case it can be a lot warmer on this side of the divide than on the west. I heard it was a lot colder in Jackson Hole and foggy in the morning. With that in mind I took off tuesday to check things out. Sure enough when I bottomed out from Togwottee pass it is -18 and I pass several groups of elk feeding quite near the hiway. They afford me some photo opportunities just as the early morning light allows for such .

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

We finally call it quits and head back towards town. I get a parting shot looking west at the receeding cloud cover. It is now clear above us though the mountains are still fairly socked in with clinging snow showers. We do stop on another occassion to watch several other groups of deer. There are some big bucks where Bear Creek runs into East Fork River but they are hanging back in the cottonwoods. A small group are out on the meadow. Three bucks, some does and fawns. We watch them awhile and continue on. The temperature is dropping and so is the wind. By the time we get back to town it is 30 degrees and dropping.
We watch and photograph for some time as the deer move across the snowy covered hillside. They are pretty tolerant of our presence. Last week I was on Torrey Creek and had gotten some nice photos of Mulies and later on two other ocassions when they were suddenly very hard to find and when I did see them they were moving away from me at first glimpse. They sure seemed spooked. On those several trips I did find 2 different carcasseswith Ravens and magpies on them. Ben at Ring Lake told me he had run across another carcass fresh killed near the Ring Lake Ranch. There are a lot of elk scatterd across the mountainsides rather than in more close knit herds as is usually the case. I know just west of town and on the mountain above town there have been several wolf sightings. Of course Cougars frequent that area too and I have found cougar kills in that area befor. But these deer just seem pretty spooked.
Some of out shots are against the sky affording some great pictures. It is hard to pick pictures out for inclusion in this blog.
We decide to drive on up country and end up near the Bitterroot Ranch. Les was up here several days ago and got some pretty good pictures of some pretty nice Mule Deer bucks. They are still here. There are more than 20 Mule Deer and most of them are bucks. I don't know how many pictures Les took but I took 55. Some great material here. This is one of the really cooperative ones.
After walking and scouting some distance downstream we do run into some Moose tracks and find where they have been browsing on willow stands. From tracks it looks to be a cow and calf so won't be any horns anyway.
The odor, like being in a barnyard, means they can't be too far off, and after looking around a little with no results we head back. The sun is now cooperating a little more with the clouds and that affords us better opportunities for photos and the paintings they might induce.
I catch a number of scenes with the dramatic light effects of clouds and that red bluff from the remains of an old silt filled beaver dam. Old and recent beaver cuttings along with their network of channels and dams are everywhere. These industrious engineers of nature have and continue to show evidence of their relentless work. It may seem pretty destructive but over time these silt filled dams build up an unbelievably nutrient laden valley and the wetlands provide homes and groceries for many species. Over a period of time these critters eat themselves out of house and home or are flooded out or some such catastrophic event occurs and the whole process starts all over again.
We hike some distance down from the river and wait at various points for some time for the illusive sun to break out of a cloud that sits right over us. It continues to tease us by almost breaking out only to slip back undercover. Finally it does break free and we are able to capture a few scenes such as this of beaver felled cottonwoods and the red bluff that rises above the river.
the river is pretty well frozen with very few holes of running water. Ideally for art compositions as well as photography it would be better to have channels of water running through. Some snow showers are following both faces of the Wind River mountains as well as the Absarokas behind us to the north. There are a lot of deer tracks in the melting snow and it is a litle wet in the brush. No Moose or Elk tracks yet. I have not found elk in this area this year which so frequented the area the last few years. I have a number of elk spotted north, south and west of town in various herds. I can find them any given day. I think the wolves have really scattered them out this year which is actually good for the habitat.
February 7, 2009
By 2:00 in the afternoon Les Lefevre and myself have parked at the top of the hill overlooking the East Fork River just below the point where the Wiggins Fork enters East Fork River. Les is a retired dentist now doing western art work and one of the artists in our Silver Sage Gallery. This is a dual purpose trip. Les is looking for dropped Moose antlers. Of course Deer antlers would be a great find too but I think it is a little early for that to happen but was surprised when the other day I stopped off at Ring Lake Ranch to talk with Ben Verheul, the caretaker and he was showing me some nice finds he had from a few days befor. Must be global warming. It is a good day for some photo research and just to get out and stretch our legs. This is a favorite hiking area for me paticularly in the fall and winter and the first time Les has been here. It is in the mid 40's and with a small weather system playing cat and mouse with the sun it seems ideal for a couple of artists to gather research for future paintings.