Grand Tetons - A World of Inspiration!
The motivation to write a blog is something that really moves me or tugs at my heart strings. Past blogs have been about breast cancer survivors that have been helped by StringsforaCURE, a local breast cancer charity, as well as the outstanding work done by Tamarack, a local wildlife rehabilitation facility. In this case, this blog is about my personal experience in the Grand Teton National Park and the impact that it had one me.
In September 2016, I had the pleasure of attending a Summit Nature Photography workshop in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, home to Grand Teton National Park, a Christmas gift from my husband. To say that the park with the Grand Tetons in the backdrop is beautiful is an understatement. I arrived a day or so before the workshop started and took advantage of the time by exploring the area and getting acquainted with the National Park. So please follow along on my journey as I got to know the Grand Teton National Park.
My first stop was Schwabacher Landing known for its ponds, streams and hiking trails throughout the area and always with the glorious Tetons in the background. The peaks of the Teton Range stand nearly 7,000 feet above the valley and over 13,775 feet above sea level making them very dramatics peaks in the Rockies so they are quite majestic. And if the winds are calm, the water reflects those peaks, the clouds and the surrounding forest. The natural beauty of these jewels, the Tetons, is truly incredible, almost spiritual.
Heading further north, I explored Jenny Lake, which was formed by glaciers over 12,000 years ago and estimated to be over 400 feet deep. The lake is surrounded by hiking trails and driving loops around the lake and the smooth as glass, pristine water of the lake reflects the majestic peaks of the Tetons. I enjoyed the peace and solitude of walking the trails all the while taking in the incredible beauty around me. My other senses were heightened as well – for example the silence was almost deafening. For long periods of time, the only thing I could hear was the occasional rustle of leaves in the trees as the winds blew ever so gently. Also, I noticed the very pleasant fragrance of sagebrush, commonly found throughout the area.
Man-Made Chapel and Natural Cathedral Group
Already overwhelmed by what I had seen and experienced in just the first day, the following day, I stopped at the Chapel of the Transfiguration, a small log chapel in the community of Moose. The chapel was built in 1925 and was specifically located so that its back window behind the altar framed a group of mountain peaks of the Tetons. It is owned and operated by St. John's Episcopal Church in Jackson. As luck would have it, there was a service that morning, so visitors were entering the church as I arrived. What a lovely place of worship - a place that would make one even more thankful for the world of nature around us.
As I walked around to the back of the chapel the scene that unfolded was beyond words! I stood in awe of the mountain peaks, a collection of mountains known as the Cathedral Group. These are classic alpine peaks, with pyramid shaped mountains caused by the movement of glaciers thousands of years ago. At this point, I was overcome with emotion at the awe-inspiring sight in front of me and tears began to roll down my cheeks. It was truly an overwhelming moment - one that I will never forget. It helped me to appreciate what is really important in life. It is certainly not the “little things” in life that seem to consume our daily lives. What is important is the world of nature around us. We must all do what we can to protect the natural resources and wildlife so that it will be there for generations to come.
In the following days, I had the honor and pleasure of meeting the workshop instructors, such as Tom Mangelson, a well-known wildlife photographer who has made it his life’s work to photograph wildlife and nature in the Tetons and Yellowstone. Other instructors included Melissa Groo, already a friend I had met at Gull Point in Erie while shooting the Snowy Owls, Dave Black, Michael Forsberg, Jodi Cobb and several others, all of whom have dedicated their lives not just to photography, but all have taken up a cause which they were able to pursue and communicate through their photography. It was also wonderful to meet other like-minded photographers attending the workshop who are all trying to enhance their skills at nature and wildlife photography.
More exploring ...
Heading even further north, I traveled to the area of Oxbow Bend, a peaceful and scenic spot that looks out over the backwater of Snake River. It was a beautiful day, but cloudless, which most photographers dislike, but in this case, the quiet still water created a mirror like reflection of both the mountain and the golden aspens in stunning colors. The mountain reflected in the water is Mount Moran, which rises 6,000 feet above Jackson Lake and is named for Thomas Moran, an American western frontier landscape artist. The mirror like reflection of the Tetons at sunrise was incredible to see. The light was changing minute by minute lighting up a different part of the mountains.
At a point a bit further down the road, this row of aspens in its colorful array of yellow, gold, and orange, created the perfect foreground for Mount Moran and an opportunity to create a panoramic image made up of eight individual images.
Grand Teton Wildlife
Wildlife abounds in Grand Teton National Park, from moose, bison and elk to mule deer, waterfowl and even the horses on the local ranches. It is as wonderful to experience a wildlife sighting as much as it is to photograph it.
Less iconic, but still beautiful!
The Tetons are certainly grand and majestic, but one can find beauty in the simpler things as well. A ranch surrounded by a split rail fence in the shadows of the Tetons, horses on a horse ranch or a small dilapidated barn at sunset, Gros Ventre River or just a small pond on a local ranch – all were spectacular finds in their own ways!
For me, one of the most colorful and pleasing sights was simply the trees – the beautiful golden aspens. In every hue of gold from bright yellow to deep orange and everything in between, the trees seemed to glow when the sun was shining upon them. Whether up against a cloudless blue sky or the gray of an approaching storm, the trees were vibrant. The timing of this trip was such that we hit the golden aspens at their peak!
It was a hectic and exhausting week with early morning shoots, afternoon lectures, sunset shoots, evening lectures and even night-time shoots. However, as the week long workshop came to a bittersweet end, I was exhilarated by the inspirational work of the instructors and fellow students and had developed a deeper appreciation for the magnificence of the natural world around us. I left Grand Teton National Park very much changed and feeling renewed, reenergized and reinvigorated - perhaps with an even better understanding of what really makes me happy!
As stated by Albert Einstein, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
That works for me. I am Inspired by Art in Nature!
For more photos, please see my Grand Teton Gallery!