Friday, May 29, 2015

Day 12 - Colter Bay to Jackson

Weather: rainy and mid-50s, as per usual
Steps: Shaun - 6,642; Shannon - 6,622
Varmints: a red-letter day! We saw beavers, a toad, a tadpole with back legs but no front legs, bald eagle, uinta ground squirrels, bison, red-tailed hawk, white pelicans, tree swallows, yellow-rumped warbler, yellow warbler, Barrow's goldeneye (a kind of duck), and we heard bullfrogs, though we didn't actually see them.
Points tally:  Shaun - 22; Shannon - 21

Today we moved from the north end of the Grand Tetons to the south where we'll stay until the end of our trip. On the way, we stopped at Oxbow Bend again and saw a bunch of white pelicans and another bald eagle.  He may be the same one we saw the last time we were here, but we're very glad he likes us.

We ended up pulling into the very same Snake River overlook from the start of our trip (even though we didn't know it until after I took the picture above....which is the same one that Ansel Adams made famous...too bad I didn't make as much money on mine as he did on his!

I know.  I've included too many pictures, but this place, Schwabachers Landing, was so beautiful, I just couldn't limit my choices any more. The Landing is at the end of a road off the main drag, and it's on a tributary of the Snake River. We were initially just going to go down to the water and take some pictures, but then we saw a beaver dam, and walked a little down the trail. Then we saw the beaver swimming around the dam. Then we saw more dams down the river, so we walked further down the trail to check them out, and before we knew it, we had reached the end of the line, maybe a mile down the river (and I hadn't even locked the car)! 

Along the way, we saw lots of different kinds of birds, including the yellow warbler, tree swallow, and Barrow's Goldeneye, as well as a ton of uinta ground squirrels, which had built burrows along both sides of the river. The weather cleared up while we were on our walk, and the water was so calm that it reflected the mountains, and just about everything else, wonderfully. This ended up being our favorite stop of the day.

We finally left Schwabachers Landing and continued on our way. Before long, we made the turn onto Antelope Flats Road, which goes through an area of flatlands with sagebrush frequented by pronghorns, buffalo, and elk. We saw a few pronghorns, but not much else, since it was the middle of the day, but we did take the opportunity to take some artsy shots while we were there. The barn above is one of the most photographed structures in the park because of its beautiful dilapidation. It's part of Mormon Row, a line of barns and other buildings that were part of the first settlement in the valley. Shaun didn't understand the appeal, but she took a picture of it anyway. Shannon utilized the macro to take some shots of the larkspur and this yellow flower we don't remember the name of.

Just before we reached the town of Kelly, we stopped at the Kelly Warm Spring. It's a pond warmed by  geothermal activity below, so it's constantly bubbling and maintains a warm temperature throughout the year. Because of this, tropical fish that were released into the spring by former fish tank owners have managed to survive and reproduce. There are signs all over the place telling people not to release fish or amphibians into the spring, but what's there has managed to survive. It looks pretty gross with all the algae and whatnot, but it was pretty fascinating to watch all the fish. We even saw a partially transformed tadpole and heard bullfrogs talking to each other across the pond.

From there, we took the Gros Ventre Road back to the main highway, but rather than turning onto it to head back to Jackson, we decided to take another side road. This would take us to Jackson at a more leisurely pace through unexplored territory. The road went past neighborhoods and ranches, and as we were passing one of the ranches, we saw the beauty above sitting on a fence post. We're pretty sure it's a red-tailed hawk, and his coloration is just wonderful. 

We eventually got to Jackson, and we spent the rest of the day relaxing, shopping, and piddling around town. Our hot air balloon ride is scheduled for tomorrow, though we don't have high hopes because the forecast has called for rain. Fingers crossed!

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