Sunday, August 30, 2009

Le Grande Teton

We could have posted pages more on Yellowstone, but it was time to move on to Grand Teton National Park. The park got its name from early French trappers who first called them "Les Trois Teton," or "The Three Breasts." Subsequently, some of the peaks have been given different names, but the highest (the pointy one in the middle), at over 13,000 feet, continues to be called "The Grand Teton."

After viewing the accounts of early explorers who climbed to the summit of "The Grand," I was amazed (and a little awed) to learn that my son, Brian Wann, climbed this peak several years ago with a group from St. Stephens School in Austin. Like most of Brian's adventures, I learned about it after the fact, and from a nervous mom's perspective, that's probably a good thing.

At any rate, we have spent the last five days camped just outside the east side of the park in the Grand Teton RV Park. We considered staying inside the park, but the options there involved lots of tall trees and limited views of the magnificent peaks. We're camped in a more open area here, with grand vistas and mountains to the west no matter what the time of day or the weather.

Like Yellowstone, Grand Teton NP is known for its wildlife. We've seen herds of elk, the most memorable a group of 30-40 cows and calves under the care and supervision of this beautiful bull. He wasn't very vocal, but the young bulls in the group were busy practicing their bugling skills. It sounded a lot like a group of 13-year-old boys whose voices were changing!

When we stopped to look, the herd bull quickly shepherded his "ladies" up the hill and away from us. We hope he survives the hunting season and sires many more magnificent elk.

Everyone who comes to Grand Teton NP hopes to see a moose. We've been scouring the willow thickets along the Snake River hoping to see the quintissential "big bull." Well, so far we've missed him. However, we first spied a yearling cow right beside the road.

Then, while shooting sunrise photos at the Ox Bow Bend of the Snake, we were lucky enough to see these two cows swimming across the river to feed in the willow thickets on the other side.

Another interesting site within Grand Teton N.P. is the Mormon Row Historic District. In the 1890s, several Mormon families settled in the Jackson Hole area. They homesteaded and formed a community originally called Grovont. They and their families lived and worked on the land until the mid-1900s, when the settlers' land was acquired to expand the park. Several of the original buildings still stand, including the famous John Moulton Barn, shown below.

Another picturesque barn was a part of the Thomas Alma & Lucille Moulton Homestead, and is located about 1/4 mile from the former John Moulton property. The buildings are deteriorating, but still show the craftsmanship of their original owners.


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