Saturday, 3 May 2014

Snow and bears

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Tom Tom took us through Idaho which looked longer but a quicker route than the one we took last year, but was the same as the one we took the year before. There were a few times when she got lost and told us we were going in the wrong direction, but we recognized some of the landmarks so knew she was wrong and kept going.

We got into Gros Ventre campground (pronounced gro-vont) in the late afternoon and the lady couldn’t believe that we wanted to stay a week. I had to confirm that Lindsay was indeed serious. Most people it seems only stay a night or two. We have been there three times before and love it. Unbeknown to us, the campground had only been open a day! What luck we didn’t arrive earlier. There was only one loop open, right at the end – why wouldn’t they just open the one closest to the entrance?

The following day we went in search of bears. Lindsay had heard from a guy whose Facebook page he follows that there had been sightings up near the Colter, so that was where we headed. Just outside the campground we had to stop to let a number of bison cross the road, they have a full coat of fur and haven’t started shedding yet. There are no babies to be seen yet and as we saw them by the end of May the first year, that must mean they are ready to drop. We have seen quite a few herds in just one day so it makes me laugh at our first visit here where we walked through a muddy paddock to take photos of a herd so far away that that were just blobs on our photos.

We were going to take the Jenny Lake scenic route but it was closed and as you can see from the photo, the campground is still under a foot of snow.

Jenny Lake Campground under snow
Further up the road I spotted two moose grazing on the side of a hill where the snow had melted and Lindsay got a few good shots with his 600mm lens. Up near the dam we noticed a few cars had stopped. After we slowed down I noticed a grizzly in the marshes. We parked and grabbed the 600mm. Unfortunately at the same time the rangers arrived – the fun police, whose sole reason for working is to spoil our experience as they make us stay 100 yards away. The male grizzly was digging in the marshes, apparently they look for the cache of food that the gophers hoard, if they get a gopher, then that is just icing on the cake. Most of the time he hid behind the bushes, but then he crossed the road and came running at us which made the rangers get more than a little worried: “get back everyone!” That was exciting!

Grizzly near Teton dam
Grand Tetons
There has been a great grey owl spotted down the Wilson/Moose road which is more likely to be seen in early June.

The next day we went back but couldn’t see any wildlife, no bison, no moose, no bears. Just when we were about to go back to the campground we decided to check once more. There were about eight cars around the corner. The male grizzly was only about 50 yards from the road in a clearing without snow or much sage bush. And no ranger yet. So we both set up our tripods and got a few shots, nothing very exciting happened as he was just digging.

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