Tuesday, August 28, 2007

(22) Blackfoot Res. Grand Teton, Jackson Hole Wyoming

Blackfoot Reservoir, BLM campground, Idaho, Last day
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Jackson Hole Wyoming


It’s my last week here at the Blackfoot Reservoir. All of my campers have left and only a few fisherman come by to try their luck fishing. It’s my first time being at a campsite, without anyone else around and it’s a unique experience. You’ve heard the expression, “just watching the grass grow”. Well, that’s exactly what I’m doing. I never thought I’d have that kind of experience. Actually, I’m watching the hay fields turn from green to a wonderful dry hay color, all golden yellow/tan against the light blue skies.

I’ve been here for about three weeks now and I’ve seen those fields change in color, rolling waves of grasses in the wind and watched the changing scenery as the clouds slowly roll by, creating dark shadows on the low mountain ranges, or watching as the sun streaks across the mountain ranges highlighting the creases and valleys one by one. I’ve seen a white hazy smoke fill the distant mountain ranges, then hours later, clear up. Fires far off in the distance.

I’m continuing to read my book on the Oregon Trail and find it fascinating to read about the pioneers as they crossed the land I’m currently living in. They walked the entire distance, using their mules, oxen and horses to carry their supplies. Rarely riding their horses. A lot different from my travels, driving my truck, towing my home along behind me.

But my journey awaits me and I’m eager to explore my next destination. I’m heading towards Jackson Hole Wyoming and the Grand Teton Mountains. It’s only 100 miles from Blackfoot and maybe another 6 miles to my next campsite. I can’t wait, as I’ve heard and seen pictures my whole life of this mountain range with it’s lakes reflecting the white capped mountain range, each view more spectacular than the previous. As I travel into Wyoming, I see a Bald Eagle sitting on the edge of a ravine. What a welcoming into a new state.


Destination. I’ve made it to the end of my trail for this year. I’ll be here for at least three weeks. Although I’ll be reporting on other places on my return trip (which you know will take months!), I’ve arrived at my farthest destination which is the Grand Teton National Park and of course Yellowstone National Park just up the street so to speak. I’m currently staying outside the National Parks at a National Forest campground called Gros Ventre. $17 a night, no hookups. Thank goodness for the National Parks Pass, as the entry into Teton is $25.00. Next week I’ll move into the Grand Teton National park for two weeks. And campsites in the park with electric hookups are $47.00. Yikkees! I’ll get a primitive site thank you.

A couple interesting tid-bits. John D Rockefeller secretly acquired much of the valley land adjoining the Teton National Park system to protect it. 35,000 acres. He later offered it to the National and the first time the Government refused the offer. Roosevelt did accept it and a year later, congress tried to rescind the offer. Our politicians do dumb things sometimes.

The locals also fought the concept at first, then realized protecting the area was what they wanted as well, as long as it preserved the wildlife as well as their way of life. It’s worked for everyone so far.

It’s one of the few National Parks that permits hunting of elk during special seasons. The herds are that well established. To hunt, the hunters temporarily become park rangers, as they are the only ones permitted to carry a gun in National Parks.

The Grand Teton is the only National park with a man made dam in the park as well as it’s own airport. Fortunately they stopped at one dam. Much compromise was made to create this park and it’s unique environment. Compromise, something we need more of for larger issues that just aren’t always black and white.

Can you believe my first day out, I saw wild buffalo roaming the sage brush prairies. Not confined in a zoo or “special park” that could barely hold these wonderful true animals of our west, but true open spaces where they live and roam freely. An awesome sight. I’m actually surrounded by an Elk refuge and hope to see some within the next couple of days.
Down at the Chapel of Transfiguration, (and no I wasn’t transfigured… that I know of) I was within 15 feet of a gray wolf! Now that’s getting close to nature. And this evening, coming back from dinner, Florentine Ravioli and an Alaskan Ale, I saw a couple of bull moose with their big antlers and mama moose’s next to the Snake River. Fishermen out on the river, fly fishing, us gawkers, taking pictures, watching wildlife and a setting sun scenery to die for.

Oh and this is a harsh environment. Hard to believe, with sunny skies and temps in the mid to high 80’s and cool evenings in the high 50’s, or low 60’s. But, the Jackson Hole valley has only 60 days a year that are frost free at night! That’s one of the shortest growing seasons anywhere. Imagine.

More to come in the following weeks….
From Jackson Hole Wyoming….

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