This winter has been an odd one for me. We’ve had a bit more snow than last year, but now the weather is warming up more than normal. I haven’t been working, due to Baby Gecko, so I haven’t seen as much wildlife.
We are still awaiting the arrival of Baby Gecko. Between getting baby supplies and getting the house ready so that we can fit those supplies, I haven’t been spending much time taking pictures. I’ve done crafty things, but none that I can post yet. But I did make it out on the National Elk Refuge last week to take some pictures.Every winter, bighorn sheep move down from the higher elevations in the area, and many of them come onto the Refuge to spend the cold months. This ram came right down the hill towards me, then crossed the road to see some lady rams. He was not successful. I heard headbutting, but didn’t see any. These two were just hanging out.
Just two miles from my house is a small network of trails. Until this past week, I hadn’t hiked more than a mile of the trails, so I decided it was time to fix that. I hiked out to Hermitage Point, 9.2 miles round trip, and the trail was beautiful. This is Heron Pond with Grand Teton in the background. I didn’t see any herons, but there was a pair of Sandhill Cranes hanging around. I didn’t manage to get any pictures of them, but I did listen to them for a while.The trail mostly went through forest, at least until I reached the point. There were a few climbs, but nothing too bad.The berries are ripening. This is Twinberry and the berries look like they are glowing.There be bears here too! I didn’t see any, but I was making noise and carrying bear spray, just in case.About three miles in, I started hearing an osprey. It took me a little longer to find the source.That nest just barely fits…I got yelled at by red squirrels all day. The trail started opening up closer to the point. This is Mt Moran across Jackson Lake.There was a fair amount of haze. We’ve been getting the smoke from the fires in Northern California. PS- NorCal friends, stay safe!I love my new camera. I think this is a Three-toed Woodpecker, but I’m not sure.This doe was feeding in a sagebrush meadow when I came around a corner in the trail. I stopped to let her figure out what to do. She decided to walk toward me. I was not this close to her- I used the zoom on my camera- but I was closer than the required 25 yard distance. Had she been a moose or an elk, I would have been nervous, but she was not interested in me, so I waited for her to move behind a tree and continued down the trail.I ate lunch on the shore of Jackson Lake. The fish were jumping and there were a few gulls hanging out. It was very peaceful. I saw so many chipmunks. Everywhere.Willow Flats from the north side. This is a great area for wildlife watching, but I didn’t see anything that day.
It was a lovely hike, if a bit longer than my legs would have preferred. It was also a very quiet hike. Once I passed the first mile and a half, which is part of another, shorter loop, I only saw 5 other people.
I had too many pictures to post in one post, so I decided to split it into two. Lupines are common in both parks, and they are one of my favorites. Fringed Gentian grows in the thermal areas of Yellowstone. I tried to take a picture of a large patch of it at Midway Geyser Basin, but the picture didn’t turn out.Blue-eyed Grass is another one of my favorites. I think this one is Tall Groundsel. It’s been blooming in dryer areas of the park.Tapertip Onion grows wild here. It smells kind of garlicky.Shrubby Cinquefoil has been blooming for a while now. Yellow is not one of my favorite colors, but I like this flower. I’ll finish with another mystery flower. I’ve seen this one in both Yellowstone and Grand Teton, but I haven’t been able to figure out what it is. Any ideas?
Our wildflower season started early this year. Between work and visitors, I didn’t get much chance to go out and take pictures of the early blooms, so the photo above is from last year. I have been saving up flower pictures for a couple of months, and now seems like a good time to post them. This is Spearleaf Stonecrop. It’s a succulent that grows in dry, rocky areas of the park, which means it grows pretty much anywhere flat. I think this is a kind of Bluebell, but I’m not sure. Even with four flower books, I’m still not sure of the identification of some of the flowers.This one is Sticky Geranium with some sort of bug on it. There’s some that grows in our backyard. Common Hound’s-tongue is an invasive species that has moved into the park. It’s not as common as some of our other invasives, but I have seen it in a couple of different places. This is Coralroot, one of my favorites. It doesn’t photosynthesize. Instead, it gets its nutrients from decaying matter in the ground.There are many species of Beardstongue in the park, and this is one of them. I love the color.We also have a lot of Paintbrush species. This one was up in Yellowstone.I have more flower pictures, which I will post in a couple of days, but for now I will leave you with a mystery. I have no idea what this one is. It was growing in the thermal areas of Yellowstone, and the flowers were brilliant pink.