Grand Teton National Park: Day 1
August 15, 2011

As a change from the usual scenery of San Diego and its surroundings, I took a photographic vacation to Wyoming. Although Cuyamaca Rancho State Park and the variety of local parks have been convenient for practicing my wildlife photographic techniques, the chaparral landscape has been less than attractive for landscape photography; I suppose I was spoiled the first time I saw the pristine and incomparable wilderness of Wyoming and Montana.

The trip began with a flight, since driving through Death Valley on a summer afternoon was not my cup of tea. My first wildlife encounter were house sparrows in the Denver Terminal. Despite the urban environment, the male and female seemed to do a decent parenting job with the fledgling. The birds fluttered between gates collecting breadcrumbs and tidbits left by careless travelers.

Upon arriving at the Jackson Hole airport, I was paranoid that the mosquitoes would greet me before I could apply repellent. Happily, I was instead presented with a magnificent view of the Teton Mountain Range perfectly paired with contrasty and puffy clouds.

I had made plans for the trip ahead of time to best optimize my time. There were scenic roads as well as moderate hikes on which I would be able to spot wildlife and admire iconic vistas. Plans, however, are meant to be changed. Following some advice, I made my first stop off of Gros Ventre River en route to Kelly. Here bison grazed through the fields and sometimes held up traffic as they checked to see if the grass was indeed greener on the other side.

Traveling took a great portion of the day and before long the sun was setting behind the mountain range. The last stop for the day was Blacktail Ponds Overlook. Around me flew swallows and along the floor scurried tiny lesser chipmunks smaller than my hand. The curious rodents ran around looking for food, but did not stay long enough for their portrait. During this time, I had not been wearing my backpack and my back was only covered by my shirt. Without repellent applied to my back, the thin shirt had been an attraction to at least three mosquitoes. Now with three mosquito bites and few successful photographs, I was ready to leave. Just then I saw a robin-like bird sitting on a fence; it flew away as I was readying the camera to photograph it. Again, on another fence, I saw a western kingbird and photographed it before it flew off a second later.

The sunset beneath the Tetons was slightly peculiar. Long after the sun hid behind the range, the vast plains still glowed. With a bit of light left, I stopped just outside of Jackson at an Audubon birding site. Trumpeter swans, ducks and swallows busied themselves with the evening chores. On land, geese flocked through the parking lot and grassy park.

I packed up and went to bed early in hopes of seeing the sunrise.