I think the key to the quality of the trip's pictures, beyond my own skill or lack thereof, was the weather. It was certainly a case of good news, bad news. The good news is that we have had a massive high pressure system over Utah and Wyoming for the last two weeks. The result has been sunshine, blue skies and unseasonably warm temperatures. I spent most of each day in shorts and a t-shirt, which is absurd for northern Wyoming in late September.
The bad news was the same high pressure system. Cloudless skies are actually very boring in photos. Bright sunshine washes out all the color. The warm temperatures mean that there is no new snow up on the mountains. Finally, the lack of storms leaves the air very still, which means all the smoke from the fires, both wildfires and prescribed burns, hangs around in this ugly haze.
One thing the haze didn't affect was the foliage. The aspens were in full color and they were quite common along the Snake River. When we went to Yellowstone a few years ago, I was disappointed by the very high percentage of evergreens. Grand Teton is much more interesting in Fall.
There are large numbers of Pronghorn in the 10-20 miles north of Evanston, Wyoming. I saw some in the park, but these were a lot more fun. It's the rutting season and the bucks are working hard to claim and keep their harems. That's not an easy task. I kept running across a dozen or so doe's with one buck. A hundred yards away would be another buck, constantly trying to move in a grab a few ladies for himself. The worst case was a buck who had two aggressors, one on each side of his harem. As he would chase one buck off, the other would come closer. He would move to chase that one off and the first would return. As best I could tell, this never ends.
I like Julie's idea: just give each male one to leave him alone and keep the other females in peace.
This guy was one of my favorites. He clearly had an itch to scratch. He moved at the same slow pace as all the others, but instead of munching grass, he moved from fence pole to fence pole, scratching on each one. You have to have a sturdy fence to withstand a bad itch from a big bison.
- The biggest bull elk I have ever seen, with a monstrous rack. However, it was too dark for a photo.
- The owl the I startled. He swept along the creek bed, about 15 feet from me. No way I could possibly react in time for a photo.
- The pronghorn that sprung in front of my 45 mph truck at 6:15 in the morning (still pitch black out). He missed becoming a hood ornament by about 3 feet.
- The bull moose that came down to the steaming river at sunrise, swam across and walked out into the woods. This could have been a spectacular picture, but I was set up for a wide angle sunrise at Oxbow Bend and my big lens was packed in the truck. By the time I could move and switch everything, he was gone. This one hurts to have missed.
I think to really get the most out of the park, you just have to keep visiting it and maximizing whatever it has to offer then. Of course, I guess that logic works for almost anywhere.