Saturday, May 23, 2009

May 18, 2009[1]
I made an early morning trip up Horse Creek north of Dubois about a week ago. My first trip of this year as it was pretty well snowed in up until now. After a pretty cool spring I was surprised to find as much snow had melted as what had. It had snowed a skiff overnight and the stream and ponds were still pretty well iced over yet. Snow squalls continued to obliterat the mountains all morning. Pretty hard to get many pictures except for some pretty good shots of Mule Deer and Elk. I had heard there had been a grizzly hanging out south of the Horse Creek campground and I just had to see. Later I was told that it was only coming out in the afternoon. I think grizzlies come out when grizzlies want to come out.
This morning I am up at first light, my favorite time of the day and by the time the sun is catching the top of the Ramshorn I am off the paved road and onto the gravel.
May 18, 2009[2]
It is a soft misty light that bathes the mountains in a mauve morning color. It is 19 degrees F and feels good with the truck window rolled down and the heater at level 3 running on my feet. Kathys Cofffe is still hot going down and that makes it easy to take in the crispness of the morning.
May 18, 2009[3]
I pass the Forest Service Guard Station horse pasture and the rising sun is in my eyes so I don't see this cow Moose until I am right on her. It is a pleasant surprise and I get some really great shots of her as she does that famous Moose waltz across the pasture acting like it is the most important thing in the world to get away from me. She than stops and watches me like she could care less if I was around or not.
What a beautiful ugly animal.
May 18, 2009[4]
As I make my way along I watch a number of elk scattered across "Winchester meadows and the mountainsides. It won't be long when it will be a treat to even see one as they will be following the snow melt higher and higher into the mountains.
I turn off the gravel? road onto a 2-track road thinking I might still catch a glimpse of the grizzly that I have been hearing about. The road traverses through the timber and befor it breaks out onto a meadow beyond I catch sight of more elk. I found the same thing last week when I drove down this same road. They have seen me and befor I get out of the timber they are off . Unlike last week though these three stop for one last look and I get off several pictures. Last week they dissapeared befor I even got to my camera.
May 18,2009[5]
After a good half hour checking out the alternating open and timbered slope that surround me I find no bears. Many groups of Mule Deer and scattered groups of Elk graze those mountain slopes seemingly not to have a care in the world. But no bears. That is O K though. With views like this it is just a blessing being out and it has even warmed up to 23 degrees F.
May 18,2009[6]
Back out on the Horse Creek road I continue up the road to the Willow Flats that Horse Creek snakes through as it passes through willow covered bottoms cutting new channels every year during spring runoff all the while creating a rich array of habitats for many forms of wildlife. This is a beautiful mountain stream and very diverse as are many of the streams in this part of the country. From tumultuous canyon runs to peaceful subalpine meadows to willow covered flats-it makes its way to finally empty into the Wind River in downtown Dubois.
May 18, 2009[7]
One can't help but stop and watch the morning progress across the peaks to the north which is the headwaters of Horse Creek. Five Pockets at the base of those peaks is a beautiful series of meadows accessed only by hiking or horseback. Five streams come together in those meadows to form Horse Creek itself. And what beautiful meadows those are.
May 18, 2009[8]
I turn off onto another 2-track road that is the access to the 5-Pockets trailhead. This is a favorite hiking area of mine if I only have a few hours to kill. Especially in the fall the scattered sage openings along with Pine and Aspen are absolutely beautiful and a delight to explore.
There are elk scattered about on every park and it seems a shame to disturb them with my presence. There are several just to the left of and through the aspens in this photo. And they have discovered me and within seconds are running across the sage covered countryside. What a magnificent scene watching them run with their heads held high in typical elk fashion. They are truely a magnificent animal.
I don't get much further on this road as there is quite a bit of snow on the road and it is wet. I could continue on but it means putting the truck into 4-wheel drive and slipping through the mud simply tearing up the road. I hate doing that.
May 18, 2009[9]
On the way back to town I take a number of photos of elk including this ragged looking pair on the Winchester meadows. There is a conglomeration of corrals along the road and a cow Moose is within them down on her front knees licking away on an old salt block set out for cattle the year befor. She doesn't really pay any attention to me she is so intent on her treasure. She certainly is savoring every lick. I get a few pictures of her but within that maze of corral poles it doesn't present a very good photo.
I meet a truck coming up the road. The first indication this morning that there is human life on the planet. It almost seems disturbing to have had such a peaceful morning and then find someone else in the area. It is however that time of morning and I continue on towards home and civilization.

Monday, May 11, 2009

[1]May 9, 2009
It is the day befor Mothers Day and being as how I have to work the gallery tomorrow my wife and I decide this would be a good day to go on over Togwotee Pass into Jackson Hole. I have been told by several friends that a 3 year old grizzly has been seen continuously in the Oxbow Bend area.
So off we go packing sandwiches of buffalo-Elk meatloaf left over from the other day, my Sol-Tec easle, paints and canvas. And of course my camera and lenses.
As we bottom out off of Togwotee we stop to watch quite a few horses on the Lucas Ranch, all partaking of their grocery quota for the day. There are well over 100 horses and mules in this herd. They must be boarded here by outfitters who use them for the summer. At any rate they will be subject material for my paintings

[2]May 9, 2009
We don't find the bear we were hoping for and head up Pacific Creek. This is a favorite area of mine and I have watched Grizzlies from here befor but most of the area is still snowed in. I think about doing a painting here but Vicki wants to go on up to Colter Bay. We do stop by this view of the overflowing Pacific Creek and find the beavers are making themselves right at home. There are several homes and dams throughout the area. They have really been busy since I was by here last fall.
[3] May9, 2009
Colter Bay is still buried in 2-3 feet of snow and we retreat south a ways and drive up the Pilgrim Creek road until we are again blocked by over a foot of snow in the road. We eat our luch off the truck tailgate and as it is not the ideal view for painting I decide it is pretty breezy and cold to do it anyway. The Grand Teton even looks a little miserable in the mid day weather.

[4] May 9, 2009
We finally return to Pacific Creek where I do a little painting with several layers of jackets on.[see my blog, Gary Keimig Art]We then decide to go on into Jackson and later treat ourselves to dinner.
There are many Elk, Pronghorns, and Bison scattered across the valley and we are finally stopped by a pretty good size herd of Bison crossing the highway. One young bull is especially enjoying his audience of backed up traffic as he is not content to just cross to the other side but decides to immediately cross again and then a third time. They are certainly in no hurry to accomplish their crossing and no one tells them other wise.

[5]May 9,2009
On the outskirts of Jackson there is quite a system of wetlands from Flat Creek that flows through the National Elk Refuge and on through the town of Jackson itself. It is a great place to watch waterfowl and water birds of many species. Here I was pleasantely surprised to find a pair of Cnnamon Teal. The hen was on a nest of piled up cattails and barely visible but I did get some photos of the drake
[6]May9, 2009
We spent some time walking around the town of Jackson hopeing to check out the new art work in the galleries but most of them are still closed for the season or doing some refurbishing.
Then it is off to Bubbas for Mothers Day Dinner.{Barbeque}fill up with gas[it is 30 cents cheaper here than in Dubois]then it is off towards home and enjoying the Tetons as the sun sets and gives us natures light show for the evening. Elk and Buffalo are everywhere the whole length of the 40 mile long valley. I am guessing we see over 3,000 head of Elk alone all drifting north following the retreating snow line towards the Teton wilderness, Yellowstone, and the mountain ranges in between. It is quite a sight and not witnessed by many. Over 7,000 elk winter in or near to the National Elk refuge just to the north of Jackson so this is not quite half of that herd we are seeing. The colors of the sun slowly setting behind the Tetons make it even more memorable.

[7]May 9, 2009
It is fun shooting away with my camera. It doesn't take much of a lens for some shots as many are in the barrow pit just off the higway. These are great research photos for paintings and I shoot well over 100 photos.

[8] May9, 2009
We have seen several moose from a distance on the Gros Ventre River just after leaving Jackson but here is a cow within photo distance just off the road at Moran Jct. I'm betting she is the same one I have photographed in this area several times this past winter. She will end up on a canvas sometime soon. What a fun animal to paint.

[9]May9, 2009
The sun has set and the day is slipping towards night when I turn off a favorite road of mine that overlooks the Buffalo River valley where it empties into the Snake River. We are immediately in the middle of another herd of elk and they are not sure of what to make of us. They don't really seem spooked and only trot a short distance and watch as we get out of the truck. They seem really curious and a bit perplexed at me when I kneel down to take this picture of Springs first flower, Spring Beauties. These litle flowers spread across the ground like a low growing mat and along with a few fragile yellow buttercups are a sign that there might just yet be a spring. The indians were quick to take advantage of this plant and dug their roots for a snack which tastes a bit like a radish. Those crazy elk seem not the least bit disturbed when we once again drive off within mere feet of them standing in the sagebrush.
[10] May 9, 2009
It is a fifty mile drive home over the pass so I reluctantly take one last parting shot of this incredible day we have been so blessed with. It is fitting that that shot would be of the Grand Tetons slipping towards darkness with elk grazing the meadows of Jackson Hole.