The Wind River Range forms 110 miles of the Continental Divide in central Wyoming. Notable for its plethora of alpine lakes, its soaring granite walls, and some of the largest glaciers in the US Rockies, the Winds are a supremely majestic mountain range and a paradise for backpackers, climbers, and fishermen.
It’s been eight years since my last backpack treks in the Winds, and I’ve been excited to get back ever since. Last week Claudia and I went up there and did an eight-day, ~55 mile backpack trek through the southern portion of the range.
This last week I was up in Jackson Hole, Wyoming hunting spring snow in the mighty Teton range. Though the weather was a bit more unsettled than we could have hoped for, we still managed to slay two really nice long lines. Here’s a few shots from the trip.
4+ inches of fresh powder coated this entire cruisey 4,000 vertical foot descent. Spring skiing at its best!
With long, tedious approaches and massive vertical rise, spring ski touring in the Tetons is a demanding endeavor.
Our last day in Jackson Hole was spent checking out the impressive National Museum of Wildlife Art, followed by soaking our tired legs in some wild hot springs up towards Yellowstone. What a nice way to end the trip!
(Back in May 2009 I spent a week riding a bunch of big lines in the Tetons; see those photos here).
After leaving Jackson, we drove up through Yellowstone National Park. I’ve never been there before, and it was interesting to see the famous national park – the nation’s first, in fact. Aside from the masses of gawking tourists, what struck me most about Yellowstone was the absolute purity of the landscape – its untouched pristine landscapes teaming with wildlife. But the highlight for me was the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and its thundering waterfalls.
July 26: We are finally back home in Ouray after our month on the road! Now that I’m back at my real computer monitor, I’m starting to go through all my photos and over the next few days I’ll post blog posts from each of our adventures during our trip.
Our first stop on our road trip was Jackson, Wyoming, my stomping grounds during the winter of 2009-10. I was happy to see my old friends there again, and to check out the scene for the 4th of July. Though the fireworks were cancelled due to the dangerous drought conditions, we enjoyed the long parade through town in the morning, followed by a day hike up Snowking Mountain above town.
We then took off for a couple nights in the Tetons, backpacking to a lesser-known lake right beneath the Grand Teton. We brought our crampons and ice axes along with big ideas to climb a nearby peak, but we ended up just lounging around like lazy marmots, laying in the sun by the lake the whole time with the spectacular views overhead. A secret campsite hidden in the shadow of an enormous boulder allowed us to sleep in until 10:00 or 11:00 each morning! (Of course I managed to crawl out of the tent for sunrise shots before hitting the sack again).
On the first evening an afternoon thunderstorm cleared up right at sunset. Unfortunately for the photography, the clouds didn’t quite clear until right after the sunset light, but it was still quite a sight to behold to see the misty clouds swirling around and rising off of the Grand.
The next morning was totally clear and calm.
But below us, the Jackson Hole valley was blanketed in inversion clouds!
Dave Showalter is an accomplished nature, wildlife, and conservation photographer. His dedication and relentless efforts shine through on his must-read blog Western Wild, which is full of inspiring photos and informative text. I recently asked Dave a few questions about his photography and his conservation efforts.
You’ve worked on a wide range of conservation fronts, most recently involving the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Can you explain in a nutshell what this project is about? How and why did you become involved with this particular conservation effort?
I was contacted by Barbara Cozzens, NW Director of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition about their campaign to protect wild areas along the Absaroka-Beartooth Front. Barb understands the value of advocacy-driven photography and we agreed to develop a project with the support of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP). It’s called a “Tripods In The Mud” (TIM) where the three legs of the tripod signify the partnership of the conservation group, the photographer, and ILCP. The Absaroka Front TIM is a big step for any conservation group, and GYC deserves a lot of credit for thinking outside the box and partnering with ILCP. It speaks to their commitment to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). We planned three photo expeditions in August, September, and November and I covered an enormous amount of territory in Cody Country.
The A-B Front forms the eastern boundary of Yellowstone, is often called “Yellowstone’s Wild Side” and includes a bewildering amount of truly wild country, the Shoshone, Clark’s Fork and Greybull Rivers, and important migratory and winter habitat for a lot of Yellowstone wildlife. The recreation and sportsmen opportunities, and associated revenue are enormous. It’s easily the wildest and most important landscape in the West, and it’s all threatened by oil and gas drilling, fracking. Our job is to illustrate why this land is so important to the GYE, steer energy development to more appropriate “brown field” areas, and get the A-B Front protected by convincing land managers and local politicians that it’s the right thing to do long-term. The timing is critical too, with both the Shoshone National Forest and the BLM drafting their 20-year land management plans right now.
Here’s a photo I just dug up from the archives, taken back in August 2006 during a 4 day backpacking loop hike in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. This photo was shot with the large format 4×5 film camera, with a 135mm lens. Seeing this makes me want to get back to Wyoming again for a summer backpacking trip!
The storm cycle has cleared for the time being, and we enjoyed a beautiful bluebird morning up at Teton Pass, scoring three powdery descents before noon. This late in the season, you’ve got to get the powder early on sunny days! Rider: Jason King.
Winter has returned in style this last week in Jackson Hole, bearing the late-season gift of four feet of fresh powder. We’ve enjoyed a fun week of powder in and around the Village, but now that the ski area has closed, today we headed up to Teton Pass for a couple deep mid-winter-esque pow lines.