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Big Hooves; Grand Tetons National Park; Signal Mountain; A Favorite Sunset

We hadn’t seen any bears in Yellowstone, other than at the Discovery Center, but just an hour or two into our drive through Yellowstone to the Tetons, we passed this bull bison scratching his shoulder and snacking on some local vegetation. He was a big guy, over 1,000 lbs I would guess, and in excellent shape. You can appreciate why the Indians held the bison in such high regard –  they provided not just meat, but material for tools, sinew, clothing, sleeping robes, water bladders, medicine and many other valued items. 

While Yellowstone is unique and beautiful, I was looking forward to heading 150 miles south to the Grand Tetons, one of my favorite places (on this planet, at least). And it’s the mountains that attract me here, not the derivation of their name, although I must admit that the French origin has some allure as well. This initial view of the Grand Tetons across Jackson Lake was enough to grab my attention.

We got settled in our campground in Moran, Wyoming, population about 75, and then took a drive back to a viewpoint and enjoyed this lovely sunset behind the Tetons before settling in for a very cold night at 6,500 ft.

This was a hillside right near our campground. Even with the sun already below the mountains,  this small group of aspens looked dramatic against the hillside.

Our first outing in the Tetons was a moderate hike up Signal Mountain. It’s only a three hour, seven mile hike up and down, but there were surprisingly few hikers on this beautiful trail. This lake near the beginning of the trail is a hangout for moose, but since we were hiking late morning, the moose were already relaxing until their sunset dining hour.

The climb was worth every bit of effort, since we were rewarded with this view of the Tetons at the top.

While we were prepared for an encounter with a grizzly, the most impressive wildlife we stumbled upon was this butterfly (or is it a moth? Connie, can John help us out with an identification?)

This pretty hiker is wearing a smile, but the altitude (7,700 feet) is wearing on her… Signal Mountain was originally formed from volcanic ashfall, but  large part of it was added when a glacial moraine covered the peak. Fortunately, the weather was not glacial, but sunny and in the low 60s, perfect for hiking.

I generally don’t like being fenced in, but this view might make it worth while… in the summer, at least.

Finally, these clouds just before sunset made for a beautiful ending to a perfect day. Can you understand why we don’t watch television?

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