Pre-Winter Season in Jackson Hole -happenings with Wildlife & Nature

Cathy Shill from JH Nordic Alliance partner, Hole Hiking Experience, shared her observations of nature, and its beautiful evolution from fall into winter:

October and early November offer perfect temperatures, blue skies, bit of moisture, frosty morning and wildlife sightings.  Fall is an ideal time to look for animals. Moose are often seen along waterways. Elk graze in the meadows. Bison enjoy sage flats. Some bird migrate south , some gather seeds to prepare for the long winter ahead. Cool Fall temperatures keep them active.

Elk herd grazing at Dusk in the meadows by the Tetons in Jackson Hole

 

 

 

In our valley as daylight changes and days shorten, winter can begin at any time so animals are active and preparing for this change. Throughout this season of transition, it is great to visit mixed habitats to view wildlife as they move to winter territories. Since winter is a hard season for all species who rely on plants, you see Moose, Elk, and Deer actively foraging in the Fall. They gain weight to survive the lean season of winter

In October, I had the opportunity to spend a week in the mountains. I highly recommend a few days to replenish one’s spirit. To leave the phone and computer behind where all is quiet. As you allow yourself to settle, you begin to observe.  It is amazing to immerse oneself in nature. A large Mule Deer herd of does and fawns visited daily. The young fawns looked wide eyed with perked ears to smell and sense me. To be afraid or not? I would breath and send peace and love. They remained and realized that I wasn’t a threat. To be one with it all. A Moose family came to lick salt, forage, and rest in the shade of Lodgepole Pine. A wolf called at night. A fellow hiker saw a bear. Nature all around. Mountain Bluebirds caught my eye as they flitted about the sagebrush. Heading to southern territories with bursts of blue. A Short-eared Owl filled the night with its’ call. The Milky Way burst with stars and the tendril of infinite light. It was time for me. Time for oneself, alone time that benefits us all.

Milbert’s Tortoiseshell Butterfly Photo: C Shill

During a sunny day this month, a Milbert’s Tortoiseshell Butterfly and I shared a ray of sun. We both enjoyed the warmth. Both Milbert Tortoiseshell and Mourning Cloak butterflies overwinter in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The adult butterfly overwinters to emerge in Spring to mate. This period of dormancy is called diapause and it is a suspended period of development. Photoperiod or length of daylight spur the butterflies to seek refuge to survive the extremes of winter. Both are within the Brush-footed Butterfly family and all six species overwinter as adults. Look for the Milbert’s Tortoiseshell near moist locations and they are common in most of North America.

Daylight savings time begins.  The month ends with wintry weather. Rain/snow mix in the valley and snow in the high country.  During this season of change, it is nice to have a good book near to enjoy the wetter days and your hiking shoes nearby when the sun shines.

Tour Suggestion-
Upper elevations are white and some have taken the first ski turns of the season at Grand Targhee. Hiking still nice in the valley so the LSR preserve, Bearpaw/Trapper Lake near Leigh Lake, Bradley and Taggert. Trails will be muddy with the current freeze/thaw cycle.  Some valley roads close November 1 and parking is banned overnight on town streets.  Choose your activity based on the weather and don’t bypass the opportunity to relax on that cold rainy day.

Nordic Skiing in the Tetons -Jackson Hole Nordic

Whether you are looking for a mellow tour of Grand Teton National Park, high level racing, or a full blown backcountry Nordic adventure, Jackson Hole has it all. Find out more about the abundant Nordic opportunities in the area at JHNordic.com, get out and explore!

Think you know Grand Teton National Park? Discover a Whole New Winter World by Snowshoe

photo: Cathy Shill

Exhilarating and peaceful describe a snowshoe experience. You walk to increase your heart rate while enjoying winter and the solitude of Grand Teton Park.  Journeying into the backcountry away from crowds makes the most of your visit. You get to explore and tour beneath the majestic, granite pinnacles of the Teton Range.

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Moose-spotting on snowshoe- off Taggart trail

During the winter  months, fewer visitors come to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and Grand Teton National Park. Nature enters the season of dormancy. You hear your breath in the crisp morning air. You hear everything. You easily put on the snowshoes and walk. You explore. You are free to discover. No trail. It’s just you, the mountains, and wild nature.  Can’t be beat!

With endless options, you can walk in the valley or journey up some hills. It’s a sport that doesn’t require experience. Using poles helps with balance. You just have to dress to be outdoors so warm and dry with a waterproof outer layer and wear good, warm boots.

 

Jackson offers endless options which are low in elevation. Since we have wild nature, you do need to be aware of wildlife and snow conditions. It’s always fun to go with others or a guide to stay safe and learn along the way.

Grans Teton National Park - near Taggart and Cottonwood Creek
Grand Teton National Park – Cottonwood Creek

A guide shares nature so the experience becomes engaging and vibrant. You learn about winter, the animals, their tracks, their survival skills. You connect to the landscape so you enhance your time immersed in nature. You end the journey with a connection to the natural world and new insight. Your heart is happy.