…Where the Pronghorn Play!

A common confusion for the guests of Grand Teton National Park is calling a pronghorn an “antelope.” 

 

Pronghorn in Grand Teton National Park
Pronghorn in Grand Teton National Park

 The pronghorn has had to live with this mistake for quite awhile, so I thought I’d help clear this matter up!

Fun Fact One:  Family

Antelope are a member of the Bovidae family, which also includes cows, bison and sheep.

Pronghorn are the last surviving membe rof the Antilocapridae family.

Fun Fact Two:  Territory

Antelope are found in Africa, Asia and occasionally the middle east.  Their habitat range from grasslands to marshes.

Pronghorn are found in western North America, from Canada to northern Mexico.

Fun Fact Three:  Horns or Antlers

Antelope have a traditional horn which consists of a bony core with a Keratin coating.  (That’s the same stuff our nails are made of!)  Their horns do not branch in any form and they have one set for life.

Pronghorn have keratin growing on a bony core that is pronged in the male and is also shed annually. 

A true classification for ther term “horns” in animals is they are always unbranched and never shed (like the Antelope).  They are also covered with skin like the horns of a giraffe!

Fun Fact Four:  Speed vs. Height

Antelope come in such a variety that some like the Gazelles are very fast, while others like the Nilgai are very slow.  They are also, primarily, decent to great jumpers.

Pronghorn are the second fastest land mammal, second only to the Cheetah!  They have a very high endurance for racing but are very poor jumpers!

Fun Fact Five:  Young

Antelope typically have just one baby at a time.

Pronghorn are known to most commonly have twins!
Bonus Fun Fact: Pronghorns outnumber people in the state of Wyoming!

From Melissa’s Corner!

Wet N’ Wild ~ Kayaking on Jackson Lake

 

Kayaking is not a new sport to me; however that doesn’t mean I’m ready to barrel roll down the rapids! That being said, I’m perfectly happy to rent a kayak from the Colter Bay Marina and take in a paddle on Jackson Lake.  Last weekend, my boyfriend Sy and I did just that!

 

Melissa & Sy Kayaking Jackson Lake
Melissa & Sy Kayaking Jackson Lake

Having done this once before, Sy and I lathered up with sunscreen, donned our safe and stylish life vests, and pushed off into the calm waters of the Marina. We decided on a relaxing paddle around the closest bays, and are very happy we did!

The bays were filled with active water birds.  As we paddled along we watched bald eagles soar overhead, an osprey defend its territory, and saw a blue heron and spotted piper hunting for their lunches along the shore.  We’d like to share some of our photos from that day with all of you!

 

This Bald Eagle Decided that branch looked like a good landing spot.  I love this photo because it reminds me of a flagpole topper!  This guy had a very busy morning.  He soared high above us hunting for his next meal and was chased by the Osprey.  He definitely deserves a nice rest!

 

Our Bald Eagle Sighting
Our Bald Eagle Sighting

This Osprey kept his eyes open for that pesky Bald Eagle.  It was very cool watching him dive bomb the Eagle as he chased him from his territory!

 

The Guardian Osprey
The Guardian Osprey

Can you spot the spotted sandpiper?  I’ll give you a hint….he’s brown and white and is standing on a branch.   

 

The Shy Sandpiper
The Shy Sandpiper

That’s right, he’s right in the middle of the photo.  This Sandpiper was so interesting to watch as he chattered and bobbed his way along the shore! 

  

This Blue Heron was searching the shoreline for some lunch.  I almost paddled right by him until he started moving.   

A Blue Heron Struts Along
A Blue Heron Struts Along

 He was quite shy and flew away when I got closer to him. 

blue heron flying

So if you are in the Tetons this summer, Sy and I definitely recommend coming out to Jackson Lake for a paddle!  If the wildlife is not particularly active that day at least you the have gorgeous view to keep you company!

kayak 3sml

 

From Melissa’s Corner (of the lake)!

Colter’s Floatin’ the Snake River

Hi everyone!  It’s me Colter Moose and today I’m floatin’ the Snake River with the Grand Teton Lodge Company boatmen.  These guys get to cruise the river all day long as their job…and I thought I had it good!

Anyway, I’ve heard all about the dinner they put together on the banks of the Snake River, so I thought I’d try the “Supper Float Trip”.  You see our meal site is located just below the Snake River Overlook ~ the place Ansel Adams made famous for his photos of Grand Teton National Park.  It’s a pretty scenic place to have dinner….

Moosin Around 039

 

Speaking of dinner, the chef (shown above) cooks steaks and trout on an open grill.  I’m told there is something special about meals cooked outdoors.  Since I don’t really eat the same types of food as our guests do…I’ll have to take their word for it…but let me know what you think if you join us on this activity!

Moosin Around 004

During dinner I made a few friends.  This is Katie sitting at one of the picnic benches before dinner began. 

After dinner, we put on life jackets, listened to the boatmen talk about the trip and how best to prepare for our adventure…here’s a photo of Katie and Kelly as we boarded the rafts!

Moosin Around 007

 The big boats hold up to 20 people.  This is a photo of the rest of the people on our trip who were just about to depart for their 10 mile scenic journey down the Snake River.

Moosin Around 008

 The guides make each trip unique as they talk about the area, tell folk tales, provide historical information and help guests search for wildlife along the way!

08Jackson Lake Lodge

This here is Mike, a boatman who helps guide river trips ~ he also grew up here in Grand Teton National Park…so he has lots of stories to tell!

(I’m not that great at taking photos, so I asked a friend of mine who is a photographer,Dan Sullivan,if I could use a few of his.)

This photo was taken by a real photographer...Dan Sullivan

The scenery is so unique…And it just keeps getting better and better along the way!

Moosin Around 011

 On our trip we were lucky to see lots of wildlife.  I’m new to this park so I haven’t made many friends.  Everyone thought it was just because I was along that we saw so many animals along the river, but our guide assured them…this happens often ~ especially on the early morning and evening trips.  Above, can you see the bald eagle in the tree?  This was one of my photos…sorry it’s not clearer, but I hope you can make him out – he’s in the center of the photo.

Moosin Around 013

 …and here, now this is a challenge…but that rock-like ball sitting just in the water on the right side…that’s a beaver.  There were 5 of them on this trip that we came across – it was pretty cool to see them swimming in and out of their homes along the river banks.

We were also able to find a “real” moose on the river banks, had a heron fly right along side the raft, and encountered many ducks in the river as well

Once we ended the trip, everyone else got out and I was the last one in the boat.  Sort of looks like I’m one the one in charge here doesn’t it??  Hmmm….maybe I should entertain a career change. 

 Moosin Around 040

Two Incredible Days on the Paintbrush-Cascade Canyon Loop

 

Looking at the Tetons from the Mural Room window, it was hard to imagine canyons between the mountains.  Actual canyons?  Like the Grand Canyon?  Coming from New Jersey, this was a difficult concept to wrap my brain around.  The plan was to hike through Paintbrush Canyon, camp for the night (after getting a back-country camping permit), and cross the Paintbrush Divide into Cascade Canyon.  From there, we’d end the trip at the Jenny Lake ferry.  The canyons could be hiked separately as day hikes as well, but our group was fired up to give camping a shot.  Driving up to Jenny Lake, we saw the route – journey into one side of a mountain and come out the other.  We had a long trek ahead of us!

Paintbrush Canyon
Paintbrush Canyon

The trip started at the String Lake trailhead, curving up through cool mountain forests.  All of a sudden, we came upon a clearing where the view opened up to Paintbrush Canyon.  It took us a few minutes to stop gasping at how beautiful the streams, flowers, and mountains were that surrounded us.  The sight was truly a treasure to see, one of the most spectacular I’ve seen anywhere.  The climb was steady, but not too taxing, and we made it up to our “Outlier” campsite after about five miles.  We set up camp, took a few more pictures, and called it a night.

The next day, we climbed three miles to Paintbrush Divide, passing by carpets of wildflowers and mini lakes created by moving glaciers millions of years ago.  You feel small next to these gigantic and ancient landforms, but awed by their incredible beauty.  Reaching the Divide at 10,700 feet, we felt like we were standing on top of the world!  The views were breathtaking, unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

View From Paintbrush Divide
View From Paintbrush Divide

From the Divide, the rest was all downhill – quite a relief after the climb we just had!  We descended into Cascade Canyon, stopping to relax on the shores of Lake Solitude.   It seemed like a fantasy: idyllic hidden lake surrounded on all sides by snow-covered mountain peaks.   It just kept getting better and better!   The Canyon was out of this world!   As I came to realize, the Canyon was simply a deep valley edged by mountains, with a stream flowing through.   We wound our way through the Canyon, past cascading streams and quite a few marmots.   It was humbling to be in the shadow of the Grand, and we got closer to this range’s highest peak as we pushed through the Canyon.   After a few miles, the trail made a turn into a dense forested area.   This new change in scenery came complete with a moose!   It’s amazing how you see wildlife when you least expect it.

View of Lake Solitude
View of Lake Solitude

The loop also included a visit to a few of the most popular sights on Jenny Lake, Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls.   After winding through the two canyons, it was wonderful to see a different view out onto the lake from Inspiration Point.   From this spot, we were close to the ferry, but had just missed the last ride of the night (for future reference, the last trip is at 7 pm).   With our last adrenaline kick, we finally made it back to the Jenny Lake parking lot.

Those two days definitely opened my eyes to how incredible the Tetons really are.   I’ll never forget looking up at the Grand, watching waterfalls cascading down the face of a mountain, awing at a field of multi-colored wildflowers.   I just couldn’t believe how many jackpot views were contained on this hike, and all so close to the Lodge.   This loop will be a tough one to beat!

From Ellie’s Corner

54 Years of Jackson Lake Lodge Memories

A Treasured Guest ~ Susan Bishop
A Treasured Guest ~ Susan Bishop

At nine months old, Susan Bishop made her first trip to Grand Teton National Park. The family traveled from Casper, Wyoming on Fourth of July weekend. “My earliest memory of the Park was my mother bathing me in a washtub and me feeding the squirrels,” laughed Bishop. More than sixty years later, Bishop has made an annual trip to return to this special place every Fourth of July weekend.

In the late forties and early fifties the family would stay at the once active Kimmel Kabins, by Cottonwood Creek south of Jenny Lake. “We heard they were building Jackson Lake Lodge,” said Bishop. “We were driving down the road and actually saw it under construction and the next year we stayed here.”

The family would get two cabins and because they were set a bit away, it felt like their private escape. They would continue to stay at Jackson Lake Lodge, because of the facilities. “You can stay at the whole complex and get whatever you need. That was another nice thing when Jackson Lake Lodge came into the park. There were no real eating places in the park. When we stayed over in the Kimmel Kabins, in addition to not having plumbing, they didn’t have any place to really eat so you had to drive into Jackson almost every night for a meal.”

The magnificent view from the cabins also draws Bishop back. “Colter Bay is very nice, Jenny Lake is very nice, but none of them can you wake up in the morning and see the mountains like this. This morning I woke up early and it’s like a whole nature study to see how the atmosphere changes in two or three hours and you can do that all from your own bed.”

After so many years, Bishop’s most memorable spot remains Leigh Lake. “I’m actually named for Leigh Lake. My middle name is Leigh,” said Bishop. “My parents also honeymooned there so it’s always been a big part of our family.”

Bishop remembers wading into Leigh Lake and String Lake as a child, trying to catch tadpoles in hopes that they would grow into frogs. “I think we only got one frog out of it,” laughed Bishop.

“When my dad was alive we always would go fishing,” said Bishop. The trip was built around lake fishing and the family would go with the same guide. “Since he passed away we don’t do that activity any longer. With my husband we always look forward to playing a round of golf at the Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis Club and we always try to hike around Leigh Lake.

“The brilliance of the Lodge was the way it was situated,” said Bishop. “That you walk up the stairway and you see this magnificent panorama of the Tetons. That has been constant and every year when you come it’s like a ‘Gee whiz, awe’ type of thing, no matter how many years we have been coming.”

There have been a few changes since the Lodge opened in 1955. “When the Lodge was first built, there was quite a large bar and it was where the gift shop was now. It had very much of a western theme. People wore cowboy clothes and came in their boots and jeans. In the dining room we saw them paint the murals. I think where the bar is now used to be a meeting room or something like that. The counters have always remained the same in the Pioneer. This year they remodeled the cabins and that has been a tremendous improvement.

Bishop adds that the demographic of visitors to the Park has changed. “It used to be more of a regional type destination and you’d come up and see a lot of people from your home town of Casper and around and now it’s becoming much more of an international grouping.”

One thing that hasn’t changed is the family unit vacationing here. “It sorts of renews your faith in the family, because you see them having fun and being together.

Another constant is the amount of electronic communication. “There’s no TV’s, no radios and originally there were no telephones in the rooms. It’s really a nice time to say I’m away from all of that.” 

“For our family the reason we come is tradition. My grandparents were pioneers in Wyoming and they vacationed up here. We have pictures of my father as a young man bringing his mother and sisters up here. It has been a tradition for our family to come up. One reason is because of the proximity. When my parents were growing up, a drive was a big deal; a 200 mile driving trip was a very big deal. It was always a nice, affordable getaway for the family for years. For me, it’s a matter of coming to rejuvenate, to get back in touch with my roots and bring out good memories.” Bishop even spent part of the summer of 1972 working in the gift shop. 

 “Our family is very much into historic preservation as well as nature preservation. I think what is so important is as we grow as a country is that we realize there are very few opportunities to keep our country beautiful, almost every time we come to the park I think of the brilliance of the Rockefeller family for seeing this sight and saying this should be kept pristine so that all generations present and future can enjoy it. That mentally in our lives is so important and I think it is so important that we as each generation make that happen and continue to keep it, because there are never going to be more mountains like this and the pleasures and the people that come and see this landscape—it’s tremendous and once you’ve been here it stays apart of you. I think that’s true of all the national parks. That’s one of the wonderful things about our country. That we have set these sites aside and said ok lets keep them that way and I strongly hope our government keeps that mentality.”

The family plans to continue staying at Jackson Lake Lodge after 54 years. “My husband and I were just talking, ‘Should we make reservations for next year?’ and I said ‘Yes, we should.’ It’s a tradition we will try and continue and keep going as long as we possibly can.”

From Katie’s Corner

Mormon Row Historic District: A Once Vibrant Community

“A ranch to the Moulton’s is more that just lands and buildings; it’s the husband, wife, and family all getting together in the field helping each other.”

-Clark Moulton, Mormon Row Homesteader, circa 1930s

 

John & Bartha Moulton Barn, Circa 1910s
John & Bartha Moulton Barn, Circa 1910s

 

As early as our American Revolutionary War, the distribution of Government lands had created a challenging issue related to land measurement and pricing.  Early methods of stepping off property plots from geographical landmarks resulted in arbitrary overlapping claims and chaotic border disputes.  The Land Ordinance of 1785 finally implemented a standard system of Federal Land Surveys that eased border conflicts by using astronomical starting points and dividing land into measurements of townships, sections, square miles, and acres.  When in 1862, the Homestead Act was passed and signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln, a U.S. Citizen could file claim to 160 acres of surveyed government land and after 5 years, by living on the land, improving it with a 12 by 14 foot dwelling, and growing crops, they could file a patent (deed of itle) and the property was theirs.

 

Thomas Murphy Homestead, Circa 1920s
Thomas Murphy Homestead, Circa 1920s

 

Originally known as the town of Grovont, the Mormon Row settlement did not occur until the 1890s.  The promise of land eventually drew homesteaders into Jackson Hole.  Lush sagebrush, natural fields of timothy, and the Gros Ventre River indicated a healthy soil and water supply to entice the first Mormon families to the area with hopes of beginning a new life.  With the construction of homes, ranches, churches, and schools, a true vibrant community began to blossom.  Settlers began with traditional Lodgepole Pine log homes providing basic shelter from the harsh Jackson Hole weather and evolved, with increased prosperity, into more modern houses. Barn raising was a community event. Elders and young men from various families supplied the construction ingenuity and strength while women and children provided the communal meals and picnics.  Mormon Row dispersed in the mid 1900s and only a handful of buildings remain standing today. 

 

Thomas Alma & Lucille Moulton Homestead, Circa 1910s
Thomas Alma & Lucille Moulton Homestead, Circa 1910s

 

What remains today is a remarkable look back in time: a time when log built ranches and barns dotted the landscape at the foot of Blacktail Butte, a time when barn raising was a community event, and a time when barns and homes were to the family what Church was to the community. Visiting Mormon Row provides a glimpse of early homesteading life and quiet contemplation of barn raisings, cattle drives, church services, long schooldays, skating on ice covered irrigation ditches, sledding down snow covered Blacktail Butte, berry-picking expeditions to Taggart Lake, and splashing in a nearby swimming hole filling hot summer days.

 

John & Bartha Moulton Residence, Circa 1910s
John & Bartha Moulton Residence, Circa 1910s

 

A visit to Mormon row is well worth the time.  Some of these original homestead buildings are over a hundred years old and are naturally weathering .  Enjoy them from a distance and respect the culturally historic value of the site.  Oh, by the way, an early morning photography safari may produce award winning images.

Sources:  www.archives.gov , A Place Called Jackson Hole – John Daugherty, Jackson Hole Historical Society, Grand Teton Association

Posted from Don’s Corner. Photography by Don Wells.

July Wedding Spotlight: Allison & Terry

Allison & Terry
Allison & Terry

 

With the big day approaching, our July couple is gearing up to tie the knot. “I’m really excited, but now I think I’m getting to anticipation overload!  I kind of just want to stop talking about everything and just do it!” said bride Allison.

Allison and Terry have been planning for the last year and approximately 80 guests are making the trip to Grand Teton National Park to celebrate on July 12. “I’m also a little nervous that I’m going to forget something major before the big day…we keep checking our to-do list but it seems to grow every time!”

In less than 48 hours Allison and Terry will be in Jackson, Wyoming. Terry is focusing on how much there is to do before arriving. “Fortunately I’m able to take time off of work to assist with all of the prep and planning.”

The couple selected Jackson Lake Lodge as their wedding destination for the view, the location, and the amenities. “Terry and I both love the outdoors and I loved the idea of getting married with mountains in the backdrop.  I’m so excited that it is going to become a reality.  I visited Grand Teton National Park with my family when I was a child and it seems fitting that while this is a destination wedding, there is some tie to the location,” declared Allison.

“The sheer beauty of the Tetons is a big one…the mountains, the vistas, the roaming bison…” said Terry. The easy accessibility of the location by air was another deciding factor. “JAC, SLC and DEN airports provide ample air service.  Since we have guests attending from four time zones (Hawaii, Pacific, Mountain, Central & Eastern) it was important to pick a location that’s somewhat central and highly accessible.” 

Romance began when the couple met online. However, the two worked out at the same gym, would go to the same bars, and even had friends of friends in common.  “We also only lived about half a mile apart. Small world,” said Allison.

Allison knew the proposal was coming, as the two went ring shopping together. On Allison’s birthday weekend the couple planned to travel to a small town outside St. Louis for a mini vacation. “As we’re packing for the trip, I suggest we go out to lunch.  I surprised her and take her to the site of our first date—a coffee shop,” said Terry. “So we order some drinks and try to walk around, but it’s raining.  Picture me holding a drink with one hand and a big two-person umbrella in the other.  We walk around for a little while, I ask her to hold my drink, I reach in my pocket, present the ring and pop the question.”

Allison and Terry have joined together in much of the wedding planning. “I would say I’m fairly involved, although I’m not Groomzilla,” laughed Terry.  “She has very specific ideas for the wedding—the type of cake, the flowers, the table cards, etc.  I try to pry this information out of her and then drive her crazy by asking the detail questions: ‘Cocktail hour is at five, dinner starts at seven, will the first dance be as soon as people walk inside or after the entree is served?’  Conversely, I will spend 10 minutes looking at typefaces for the wedding stationary and she’ll be like, whatever you want is fine.” 
 
The couple is trying to incorporate the location and their quirky sensibilities into everything. 

“Some of the little touches are our first dance to a Mr. Rogers, (yes, from Mr. Rogers neighborhood) song and the groom’s cake, a replica of the Golden Gate Bridge (in honor of Terry being from San Francisco Bay area).  We also decided not to use the traditional wedding march in favor of an Elvis Costello song,” shared Allison.

They adopted an image of a mountain range as their wedding logo. “The color is a forest green and it’s used throughout—flowers, dresses, stationary, and more,” said Terry.

“The flowers are going to be elegant and simple, orchids, and peonies for the bouquets and orchids, peonies, and calla lilies for the centerpieces,” said Allison. The bride’s dress is an ivory sheath with a chapel length train and crystal beaded detailing. The music is being provided by a Bozeman, Montana old time string band, Jawbone Railroad

“We’re taking advantage of the best of Jackson Hole for our wedding guests—the ceremony and reception at Jackson Lake Lodge, the rehearsal dinner at the National Museum of Wildlife Art, local food and beverages, welcome gifts from local vendors, and more,” said Terry.

Terry admits what he is most excited for, “Allison is really close to her dad, so I know that him walking her down the aisle will be very special to her.  I’m really going to treasure watching that as I see my bride for the first time that day.”

Margaret, the mother of the bride, is looking forward to the whole week culminating to the wedding.  “A large contingent from both families will be attending so the time visiting in such a beautiful location will be great, maybe even time to take Allison’s nieces for a hike or two.”

“My first impression of Terry was months before meeting him and made me think he was very thoughtful and caring,” said Margaret. “Nothing is more important to a mother than having her daughter in a relationship with a man who loves her.” Margaret wishes the couple, “Health and happiness – everything else will follow.”

 

Our Spotlighted July Couple
Our Spotlighted July Couple

 

As the wedding draws closer, the couple learns to deal with unexpected obstacles.

“I think the thing that surprised me the most was how big, little things seemed when it got down to the wire,” said Allison. “When the chocolatier no longer carried my favorite truffle I was upset before I realized there were a half dozen others that I really liked as well.  I think the pressure of making lots of decisions daily and having minor issues rise up all the time was more stressful than I expected.”

Allison recommends staying in good contact with vendors. “I also think that it is really helpful to be organized.  I can’t believe how many excel spreadsheets we have dedicated to this wedding, thank goodness Terry is computer savvy!  I also think that it is important to plan to have some down time just the two of you.  Terry and I are so excited to see our family, but we know that we want to spend some time together and have set aside a night for a special date just the two of us when we get to Jackson.  I know that will be a special time for us.”

“I’m really just looking forward to getting married and enjoying the party that Terry and I have organized for our family and friends. I think that there are going to be lots of little moments: seeing the flower girls twirl in their dresses, having my father give me away, toasts from our friends, dancing the night away, an amazing meal…I just want to be able to take it all in and enjoy it.”

Terry adds, “We’ve laughed together, cried together—I realized that we make a great couple.  Our strengths complement each others weaknesses so wonderfully.  She’s an amazing, beautiful, smart woman, and I am so excited to spend the rest of my life with her.”