Author Topic: Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park  (Read 13405 times)

Offline sky121

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Re: Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park
« Reply #60 on: August 02, 2013, 12:56:46 PM »
Any hiking involved to get to Schwabacher Landing?
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Offline Achas Veachas

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Re: Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park
« Reply #61 on: August 02, 2013, 01:00:53 PM »
Awesome! I wish I would have taken an extra day to do the Tetons.
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Offline Ergel

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Re: Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park
« Reply #62 on: August 02, 2013, 01:21:04 PM »
Seems like a proper trip requires a shabbos, no? Seems impossible to do enough sun-Fri, correct (hence you skipping out on Yellowstone)?
Any places for shabbos driving distance?
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Re: Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park
« Reply #63 on: August 02, 2013, 01:26:23 PM »
Any hiking involved to get to Schwabacher Landing?

Nope, just a gravel path.
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Re: Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park
« Reply #64 on: August 02, 2013, 01:28:19 PM »
Seems like a proper trip requires a shabbos, no? Seems impossible to do enough sun-Fri, correct (hence you skipping out on Yellowstone)?
Any places for shabbos driving distance?

I'd say so. There's a Shliach in Jackson who provides meals (and sometimes a minyan) IIRC. I have a friend who did that and was quite pleased.
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Re: Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park
« Reply #65 on: September 02, 2013, 12:37:21 AM »
TR Part 2. (Link to Part 1)

Click on any picture to see a full-resolution version. If you click through, click on the location name (under the picture) to see a map with the exactly where it was taken.)

Day 3:

Tuesday morning we woke up at 3 again to go shoot sunrise at Oxbow Bend. This is another iconic sunrise location, and is located at the northern end of the park. This spot is more touristy than Schwabacher Landing - as soon as we were set up a bus pulled up and deposited 50 Chinese tourists right in front of us. Instead of trying to deal with them, we headed down to the river below the parking lot (off to the right) for some peace and quiet.

As a rule, both in the Tetons and Yellowstone, you should always carry bear spray if you venture off the main roads or paths. This point was driven home when we got to the river and found fresh grizzly tracks all over the place. Luckily we didn't come across any bears.

Oxbow Bend sunrise:



Mt. Moran and pelican:



Pelican:



Company by the busload:



Fresh grizzly tracks:



After sunrise we drove around looking for a place for shachris, as we weren't gonna daven in front of 50 jabbering Chinese. In the end we found a nice quiet pull off next to Jackson Lake - beautiful setting, nice and quiet, with enough mosquitoes to turn you into a raisin.

Random beauty:



Quick snap of the view across Jackson Lake from where we davened shachris:



Whenever we were in the car we'd always have a camera and long lens on our laps, and constantly search for wildlife. That way we were always a heartbeat away of shooting if anything came along. For example, driving around that morning around we spotted a pronghorn antelope standing in the sagebrush just off the road. We were able to screech to a halt and grab a few shots before a crowd formed and scared it away.



This dead tree was our nemesis. We were so alert for any sign of an animal, that every single time we passed it - without fail - one of us would slam on the brakes and shout "giraffe!" We'd pull over and lift the camera before realizing that yet again, we've been had...



A bit later we found ourselves in a 'bear jam' - traffic was completely stopped in both directions and cars were parked all along the road.Turns out there were two grizzly cubs foraging in the bushes, but the mother was nowhere to be seen. This is a pretty dangerous situation - generally when people get hurt by bears it's because they got between the mother and the cubs. In a situation where the mother's location is unknown, you should really hightail it out of there. There were park rangers doing crowd control and making sure no one gets off the road. The bears were pretty far off, so I didn't get anything really great.

Cute little grizzly bear:



Bear jam:



After shachris we headed out of the park, into the Gros Ventre Wilderness. In all our research for this trip we never came across any mention of this place. This either a pity or great, depending how you look at it. On the one hand, we drove, hiked, and photographed for hours without meeting a soul; on the other, everyone who comes to the area is missing out on something awesome. The area is completely different than anywhere in Yellowstone or the Tetons - it reminded me of all the pictures I've seen of Sedona.

From Mormon Row, we took Gros Ventre Rd. out of the park. The road starts out paved (relatively speaking :P), but quickly becomes gravel. Overall the road isn't too bad, except for some very washboardy areas (which inevitably were the ones hugging the side of the mountain).

After a couple of miles you get to a pullout which overlooks a pretty lake far below, called Slide Lake. On the other side of the lake you could see a huge 'wound' in the mountain, which is the spot of a massive landslide which happened in 1925. A Huge chunk of the mountain (about 50 billion cubic yards) gave way, and a wall of debris went crashing along for a couple of miles, completely wiping out a town and killing 6 people. The landslide dammed the Gros Ventre river, creating two massive lakes - Upper and Lower Slide Lake. It's fascinating to see the huge missing chunk of the mountain, and the debris path going down to the lake.

The road continues through some beautiful country, until you get to the main attraction: huge, round, red hills, with beautiful exposed layers all in different shades, following the contours of the hills. There's a big horse ranch below them, creating an extremely pastoral and peaceful setting.

We parked on the side of the road, and hiked up one of the hills to see if we could get a better view. In the end there was far to much bear scat around for us to feel comfortable - we were quite not in the mood of bumping into a grizzly with anger management issues in such an isolated place.

We ended up spending some time shooting around the ranch and even more time trying to rescue my yarmulka from an irate horse. The weather wasn't very cooperative, but we still had a great time.









Here you could see the entire valley - the Red Hills to the left, the ranch in the middle, and theGros Ventre River is on the right:



Fishing for my yarmulka with my tripod:



Heading back toward the Tetons:



As soon as we got back into the park, we hit another traffic jam - this time it was a moose right off the road. Here too there were rangers making sure no one gets too close to the half-ton guy.




"Do I know you?"








Mooserazzi 8) (taken by my friend):



After this we headed back to our apartment for a short nap, and then went back out again at 10 to shoot the night sky. For someone who's lived in the city all his life, I was very much looking forward to seeing the real night sky for the first time (we had been clouded in the first two nights).

I had planned this location down to the last foot - there were many things that had to fall into place. The spot had to have both a southern exposure (the Milky Way rises in the south) and a northern one (to add some curve to star trails). It had to be pitch dark, with no light pollution from nearby buildings or roads. On the other hand, it had to be really close to a road, since it would be extremely dangerous to be out in the middle of the night an area that's swarming with grizzlies and bison (which are actually more dangerous when startled) - we needed to be able to escape into the car if necessary. And last but not least, it had to be a pretty location - a picture of just stars is quite boring; it needs a foreground to 'anchor' it and give context.

After lots of research I found the Jackson Lake Marina. This was at the end of a long access road off the main highway, and would be virtually deserted at night. The closest light would be from Signal Mountain Lodge, up the mountain and out of view. Being a marina, you could drive the car all the way up to the boat launch by the lake. To the immediate left of the road is a long, pebble beach, which would make a perfect foreground.

The night was clear, and just driving to the lake we know that it'll be an awesome night - the stars were so bright that they were actually reflecting off the hood of the car as we were driving. When we got there, we were annoyed to see that there's a bathroom off to the right, with light streaming through the windows. And whaddya know, there's no light switch to be found. Not a problem for a 6-foot-8 guy - within 30 seconds all light bulbs were unscrewed and we were good to go ;D.

It was a glorious sight. More stars than I ever imagined existed were spread all over the sky. The milky way was rising over the trees - millions of stars clustered together in a huge band stretching from horizon to horizon, slowly moving from left to right. The light of the stars was so bright that after a few minutes we stopped using our flashlights. Below all this was the immense Jackson Lake, its waves quietly lapping on the beach, making the innumerable pieces of driftwood creak in protest. Smack in the middle, keeping the stars from falling into the water, was the entire Teton range in all its snow-covered glory.

We would have been able to just sit there and drink it all in all night, if not for the fact that we were scared out of our wits and freezing cold :P. On top of wearing bear bells and carrying bear spray, we needed a way of making constant noise. I borrowed some old cassettes from my parents along with an old Walkman. We ended up playing some old Avraham Fried tapes  - I guess the Wyoming grizzlies are more into MBD, since they stayed away from us :D.

After a bit it started getting a bit cloudy, so we decided to focus on the Milky Way that night, and on star trails the next night (since these need a pretty much cloudless sky).



The Milky Way and a shooting star:



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« Last Edit: October 09, 2013, 03:50:51 AM by Chaikel »
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Offline whYME

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Re: Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park
« Reply #66 on: September 02, 2013, 12:47:56 AM »
1. Once again: wow, awesome! Amazing pictures and great TR.

2. I can't believe I never heard of this Gros Ventre place...

3. Next time I go there I'm definitely gonna focus more on Grand Teton than Yellowstone...
"A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer."

Offline whYME

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Re: Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park
« Reply #67 on: September 02, 2013, 12:59:41 AM »
Business end:



Actually, that's a machloikes haposkim.
Some hold that this is the business end:
"A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer."

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Re: Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park
« Reply #68 on: September 02, 2013, 01:03:47 AM »

Actually, that's a machloikes haposkim.
Some hold that this is the business end:

ALOL.

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Offline Achas Veachas

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Re: Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park
« Reply #69 on: September 02, 2013, 08:17:23 AM »
1. Once again: wohow, awesome! Amazing pictures and great TR.

2. I can't believe I never heard of this Gros Ventre place...

3. Next time I go there I'm definitely gonna focus more on Grand Teton than Yellowstone...
+1M
My thoughts exactly, on all 3 points.
Curiosity made the cat smarter.

Offline AJK

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Re: Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park
« Reply #70 on: September 02, 2013, 11:36:31 AM »
Simply not normal.

Makes one (re)think leaving the US on vacations...
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Offline Dan

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Re: Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park
« Reply #71 on: September 02, 2013, 08:57:13 PM »
Stunning pics. You've got to do Banff.
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Re: Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park
« Reply #72 on: September 08, 2013, 12:34:47 AM »
Stunning pics. You've got to do Banff.

Our original plan was actually to do Banff and Jasper in the wintertime, but in the end the Wyoming in spring worked out better.
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Offline Yaalili

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Re: Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park
« Reply #73 on: September 08, 2013, 02:03:55 AM »
WOW! Those red rolling hills are a winner, would go just to see that, reminded me of red rock canyon.

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Re: Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park
« Reply #74 on: October 06, 2013, 11:22:33 PM »
TR Part 3. (Link to Part 1 and Part 2)

Click on any picture to see a high resolution version. If you click through, click on the location name (under the picture) to see a map with the exactly where it was taken.

Day 4:

Wednesday was Yellowstone day. It's a 3-hour drive from Teton Village (where we sere staying) to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, which was supposed to be our first shooting location. Since we were up most of the night before shooting the Milky Way, we decided to skip a full sunrise shoot and sleep late today - we woke up at 4 instead of 3 :P.

Going to Yellowstone (South Entrance), you pass through the entire Grand Teton NP from south to north. On the way up we passed Oxbow Bend just as the sun was rising, so we decided to make a quick stop and shoot it from a different angle than we did yesterday. We spent a few quick minutes shooting and then headed on to Yellowstone:



Our original plan was to get to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone about 10 o'clock, when the sun is positioned to create a rainbow at the base of the falls. However, we soon learned that there is no such thing a simply getting from point A to point B in Yellowstone. It's impossible to drive without stopping every few minutes for this or for that. The place is chock-full of amazing things to see that we stopped practically after every curve in the road. We didn't even bother taking pictures of most things; we just drank it all in (the weather was iffy too, alternating between rain, clouds, and weak sunshine). From geyser fields to roaring rivers to Yellowstone Lake (the largest high-altitude lake in the US); from narrow passes to wide open valleys with wildlife stretching as far as the eye could see, it's impossible not to be filled with awe of this amazing place.

We ended up stopping in most places, mostly just for 5 minutes or so; even so a stretch of highway that should have taken half an hour to drive took longer than 3 hours. And that's with skipping some of the more involved spots (such as West Thumb Geyser Basin, Lewis Falls, and others).

Right when you enter Yellowstone, you start seeing entire areas that were devastated by the 198 fires which burned over a third of the park. It's interesting to see all those dead lodgepole pines standing forlorn, but with a forest of brand new miniature ones already starting to reclaim the old forest.

"Circle of life":






(The second and third pictures are a perfect example of the mixed-up weather that day - the pictures were taken 4 minutes apart but the weather is completely different)

One of the stops we made was a place called Dragons Mouth in the Mud Volcano area. It's a cave that emits boiling water, clouds of stinky sulfuric steam, all the while roaring like a monster. We watched it for a couple of minutes holding our noses, but then the wind shifted and blew the steam directly at the boardwalk, so we hightailed it out of there coughing and gagging.

Dragon's Mouth:


One of the most amazing things about Yellowstone is the fact that everything is constantly changing. By the time I go back again, there will probably be new geothermal features, some current ones will disappear, while other will change their behavior dramatically. With more than 10,000 thermal features, it's easy to see why. The scene which left the strongest impression overall on me was not Old Faithful (we didn't even see it), or any of the famous tourists spots. It was a simple drainage grate in the Mud Volcano parking lot. Sulfuric gas was lightly steaming our of it, and the iron grate was actually being dissolved from the fumes. Sometime before we came a new vent had simply opened underneath the parking lot and was now blocking a couple of spots; in a couple of years from now, the entire parking lot may be gone.

This simple sight, more than anything, drove home to me the real power of this place:



(You could see the light steam rising between the Tioga RV on the right and the Ford Explorer on the left.)

Continuing on, you get to the absolutely magnificent Hayden Valley. It boasts the highest concentration of wildlife in the lower 48; we saw herds of bison, deer, bald eagles, herons, cranes, and many more animals. Not to mention that the valley itself is stunningly beautiful, with the Yellowstone River and the mountains in the background.

Bald eagle pair in the Hayden Valley:


Finally, after 3 hours and countless detours, we made it to Artist Point, overlooking the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. The canyon is 1200 feet deep and quite spectacular. It's not nearly as massive as THE Grand Canyon, but it's got something to make up for that: at the head of the canyon, the stunning Lower Yellowstone Falls plunges 308 feet straight down, almost twice the height of Niagara. (This one also has trees, as opposed to the one in AZ :P.) As expected, we were too late to see the rainbow, but we had no regrets :D.





The tiny people standing on the observation deck on the top of the falls should give you some sense of the immense scale:



We then headed back to the trailhead to tackle the famous Uncle Tom's Trail. This was originally a rope and ladder affair which allowed people to climb into the canyon at the base of the falls. These days, it's a steep path leading to over 300 stairs, going more than 600' down into the canyon. Besides being extremely strenuous (the way down is also quite difficult, not to mention of course the way up), it hugs the canyon wall all the way down and is very vertigo-inducing. The stairs are also made out of perforated metal, so most of the time you could also see pretty far directly below your feet.

Personally, I'm terrified of heights (a 6' ladder gives me the heebie-jeebies), so I wasn't sure if I should even try. However, standing on the edge of the cliff at Artist Point - a spot which should have had me terrified - I noticed that I wasn't in the least bit nervous. Basically I think that since the scale was just so crazy, I didn't really see it as a typical heights situation. (I've tested this hypothesis many times since and find it to be true - in moderately high situations I'm still very nervous, but once we're talking a few hundred feet or more I'm fairly comfortable. Go figure.) In any case, I decided then that I will give Uncle Tom's Trail a try.

We emptied our packs in the car, keeping only the essential cameras and lenses, plus plenty of water. As expected, the trail ended up being extremely difficult, but yet very enjoyable. There are 'landings' every 20-30 stairs or so with benches, so it was pretty manageable. At the bottom of the trail is a platform where you could rest up and enjoy the view. You're very close to the falls, and the spray makes everything slick. The roar is unbelievable.

View of the falls about halfway down the trail:



Cellphone shot of the trail, heading down:



View from the bottom:



We then headed to Midway Geyser Basin, home of Grand Prismatic Spring. GPS is the largest hot spring in the world, and one of the most beautiful. We were planning on hiking up a nearby hill to get the entire spring in view, but the trail was closed due to high bear activity. There are bears all over the Yellowstone backcountry; for a trail to be closed means that it's really really dangerous. Instead we just explored it via the boardwalk. The steam was constantly blowing toward us, so we hardly saw anything, although we were able to catch a glimpse of the different colored bacteria which give the spring its color. Overall it was like walking through regular (albeit very smelly) fog - we hardly saw anything. Earlier in the day is supposedly a better time to visit here.

Right next to Grand Prismatic Spring is Excelsior Geyser Crater, once Excelsior Geyser. This used to be one of the the biggest geysers in Yellowstone, until one of the huge eruptions messed up the internal plumbing. Now there's huge hot spring in the crater instead, pumping about 4000 gallons of boiling water into the Firehole River below it.

Excelsior Geyser Crater. The steam rising in the right background is from Grand Prismatic Spring:


Excelsior Geyser emptying into the Firehole River:



At this point it was almost 8 PM, so we headed up to Mammoth Hot Springs to shoot the sunset over Minerva Terraces. This really is an otherworldly place. The limestone-rich boiling water slowly builds up delicate terraces, leaving stunning multi-level formations. We were disappointed to find that the terraces were mostly dry, but it was pretty cool anyway.



We stayed awhile, then started the 3-hour drive back to the beach on Jackson Lake in the Tetons to shoot some star trails. We got there about 1:30, and stayed for a bit more than an hour. There had been grizzlies around that day there and we were terrified :-[...

Since star trails require very long exposures, we were able to set up the shot and wait it out in the car. What causes the star trails is the rotation of the earth, while the stars stay still. Since it's a long exposure, the stars get recorded on the sensor as a trails of light. The long exposure also picks up things which are almost invisible to the human eye - the orange glow on the left side are the lights from Idaho Falls, ID, more than 80 miles away.

The greenish streaks on the right are actually the Northern Lights, visible due to the long exposure.

This is a 20-minute exposure - the star trails are longer, but the Aurora is less structured:


This exposure is 8 minutes - shorter star trails, but a better looking Aurora:



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« Last Edit: October 07, 2013, 01:55:17 AM by Something Fishy »
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