After exploring major attractions the day before, I was excited to explore further North some of the iconic spots in Grand Teton NP. Early mornings were bone chillingly cold even during the fall season. While I was driving to Mormon Row Barn, the scene was lit by golden light illuminating the whole landscape, along with the Teton mountains at a distance. I had seen Mormon Row many times through the work of many talented photographers. But to see it in real was something spectacular. The Mormon Row barn aligns with the backdrop of Teton mountains, the composition is pleasing to eye, something like a postcard in reality. I felt I went back in time to 19th century when the Mormon’s thrived and many settlement existed due to the alluvial fertile soil resulting in many homesteads nearby.
Within few meters, the T.A. Moulton Barn was equally splendid, nicely lit by the golden light. There was a guide who recommended me to try different compositions. I tried to include a tree as a foreground to give lot of depth to the photo. I was pleased with the picture as it was little different from many common perspectives.
“How we treat our land, how we build upon it,
how we act towards our air and water,
in the long run, will tell what kind of people we really are”
– Laurance S. Rockefeller
I continued my journey towards the Laurance S. Rockefeller preserve. The Rockefeller family has played an important role in preserving Grand Teton National Park by donating more than 33000 acres of their private land. In 2001, Laurance S. Rockefeller donated another 1106 acres of his remaining family ranch to NPS. Preservation site offers solitude, access to waterfalls, rivers, lakes, and habitat to wildlife that thrive here. I took the Lake Creek trail to the Phelps lake, which was about 1.4 miles from the preservation site entrance.
Hiking through the woods was a bit scary, as I noticed many signs of Bear activity. I had by this time had the bear spray, but my anxieties to spot a surprised Bear was still high. I made noise throughout my hike, and followed a group of hikers to feel a bit safe. While in my head this was all going, I was greeted by fall colors, throughout the preservation site, and beautiful roaring sounds of river that flowed along the trail. I found two fallen yellow leaves on the river depicting the arrival of fall season. It was so refreshing to take the time to relax and enjoy the nature to the fullest. I carried with me my trusted 200-500mm telephoto lens to highlight the presence of fall foliages on the mountain, and luckily I also found a lone rock along the shores of the Phelps lake. Although the composition looks simple, the picture in itself conveys lot of emotion for me, the emotion of solitude and peace as solid as the rock.
After completing the Phelps lake trail, I headed back on to the Moose Wilson Road. I noticed a long line of cars not knowing what they had sighted along the road. When I asked the ranger he told me there was a black bear munching on the berries. The wildlife ranger told us to keep a distance so we could enjoy the Bear in its natural habitant from a safe distance. This act lasted for 30 minutes, and the Bear moved onto higher ground to find more berries.
I continued to the Chapel of Transfiguration. All scenes were brightly lit by the mid afternoon sun. The site was closed due to COVID-19. It was still beautiful seeing the site with the backdrop of Teton mountains that seems to follow me everywhere I went in the park. The chapel frames a view of Cathedral group of peaks in a large window behind the altar. This chapel is on the national register of historical places. It was a perfect time for some more solitude, and time for reflection, a few picture and that should do it.
Close to the log chapel, Menor’s Ferry Historical Trail was a 0.5mi self-guided trail of the homestead, ferry, and the history of Jackson Hole. There was nice vantage point to see the snake river and log cabins, just to show how wild the west was in the day. Unlike other ferry, the Menor Ferry was designed to move across the river in sideways. It was a unique design used by then settlers of their time.
After soaking in the beautiful views of the historical places, I was on the road again to the Oxbow bend. I have to say that the driving through the park is equally so pleasurable as hiking. You notice the mountains following you wherever you drive. The Jenny lake road to String lake offers such stunning views of mountains, and I take pleasure of finding compositions where the man made road meets the mountains as you see in the below picture.
Along the road, you could see crowds meeting to view wildlife in action. We all noticed a Bull Elk appearing and disappearing through the fall foliage making all types of sounds including the Elk bugle. After some action the Elk soon disappeared into the woods to find solitude from the cheering crowds. Although it was a brief moment, it was nonetheless amazing, as I never imagined Elk to be this large.
After traveling through wildlife rich roadside pullouts, I reached Oxbow bend at about 3 PM, I felt it was too early to take any pictures, as the sun was harsh. As I came down to the snake river, I found a beautifully stacked pebble stones creating a compelling composition of pebbles with distant fall foliage and the mount Moran. I sat there some more time to appreciate the nature for fresh air, sounds of shores, and the stunning views.
To pass some time, I headed to the Coulter Bay. Colter Bay Village allows you to experience the lake, pine forests, and many boating activities. It gave me an opportunity to freshened up as the Coulter Bay park had Showers and coin operated laundry services. Just a 5 minute walk from the Laundromat was the famous Jackson lake with the views of Mt Moran. There I noticed two more fallen leaves close to each other now depicting harmony between summer and fall. After spending some time at Jackson lake, I headed back to Oxbow bend for Sunset.
Fall colors along the snake river was spectacular, which was brightly lit by the golden evening sunlight. The fall foliage along the river was breathtaking, and the orange, amber, and vermilion leaves make a striking contrast against the dark green pine trees. Early October, the trees change colors and the wildlife emerges to soak up the warmer temperatures before a cold winter. It was like a colorful wonderland surrounded by rich wildlife, pristine waters and breathtaking mountains.
On the west side, the mount Moran was back lit by the disappearing sun. The whole colors were extraordinary as the clouds turned dark red and pink. On the east side, as the time went by, the golden light transformed to a rich colors of pink and dark blue sky lighting up the snake river. The full moon further accentuated the beauty of the scene. I stayed until I saw the first glimpse of the stars and then headed to my campground in Gros Venture.
After the eventful day, I sat next to the campfire, and reflected upon all the adventures that I was grateful for, and noted down on my dairy so I can look back on these adventures in future time. Life was so good, and I lived another creative day. I will come back with more adventure on day 4 in the next post. I hope you enjoy this blog, and I have provided a link to the Youtube video covering all the places throughout that day.