A frosty morning turned into the most remarkable day! Negative temperatures and a light fog met me in Driggs, ID with the cold sticking around all day long, just barely hitting the teens at midday. The beauty of the ice-glossed foliage was beyond description! Sunlight reflected off the fine ice crystals suspended in air and the whole world sparkled around me.
My goal this trip was to simply enjoy the day exploring my favorite mountains after dropping off a recent painting to a customer in Jackson. This morning I could not have fathomed the sheer amount of animals I would see! Mule deer, hundreds of elk, dozens of bison, bighorn sheep, and my personal favorite: moose, were roaming in the wide-open fields between shimmering mountain peaks. Large birds including hawks and bald eagles soared the crisp air. The elk and moose are in full antler this time of year! A majestic sight that captures your gaze and refuses to let go. I stood for more than an hour in two feet of snow watching two moose graze on the abundant sagebrush. I seemed to forget I was cold each time they briefly raised their heads from their feast and looked our way.
The elk preserve is teaming with herds of elk. I watched as an entire herd of more than a hundred elk marched up the face of a rather steep mountain. The trampled snow left behind merely hinted to the number of animals that had just passed. Bighorn sheep scaled the icy rock, jumping and playing even at precarious edges. Two bucks held my attention as they ran through thick snow right in front of me, and small groups of bison showed themselves afar off on slopes and in large fields.
I laughed out loud and sang my favorite songs as I traveled from group of animals to group of animals. I couldn't believe how blessed I was to see so much! There are so many days I go out to the mountains and see no big game, only a few birds and some rodents. Today was not one of those days. The early winter is a remarkable time to view animals in the Tetons. Fresh snow contrasts the dark coats of many of them, most big game have come out of the mountains to winter in the warmer valleys, and there are less people competing for the perfect picture, thus helping the animals feel less stress from the crowds.
To conclude, even after a major snowstorm hit yesterday, the pass was passable, the roads were driveable, and the snow was manageable. All of that is worth braving for even a chance at seeing so many incredible creatures! I hope you get the chance to get out and explore this winter. Stay healthy and warm out there.
Enjoy some of my favorite pictures from today!