Thursday, August 13, 2015

mountains and mammals

the view from a stop along the road to Signal Mountain
Took a trip to Grand Teton National Park yesterday.  I think I had forgotten just how stunning these mountains are.  Having lived so close to the Absarokas, Bridgers, Gallatins and Crazies in Montana, those in Wyoming were floating somewhere in the back yard of my memory, not so much front and center.  Glad to have refreshed my recollection.

Mount Moran
evening light on the Tetons with the Snake River aglow below

Aside from the mountains and overall gorgeous view of the Snake River Valley, we also saw a black bear from the car, very close to the road.  We could hear its footsteps and see pine needles stuck in its fur!  We made a stop at the Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center in Moose, WY where we were allowed to handle full-sized animal pelts - black bear (very soft ears), grizzly bear (thick, coarse fur), fox (wouldn't ever do it or support it, but I understand why people have worn them around their neck), mountain lion (good gravy, what a long tail), coyote (feels just like a pet dog) and wolf (big feet and a great, deep coat of fur).  Inside, we watched a simulation of how the mountains and valley were created over millennia.  We also got to touch swatches of fur from many critters such as moose, pronghorn, lynx, bobcat, mule deer, bison and elk.  

I may have said more than once in the past that I would love to pet a bison, but I wouldn't ever actually do it.  I've imagined sticking my fingers in the halo of brown that surrounds their head and poofs out between their horns.  But I value my life more than my desire to do so, and thankfully the National Park Service provides opportunity for people like me to  touch things.  I like tangible. 

trees and sky reflected in the Lewis River

En route to the Tetons, we made a stop and were treated to pretty scenery, a pika sighting, and a golden-mantled ground squirrel perched on a rock.

a pika

I read a lovely children's book yesterday about a pika who wanted a tail just like marmots and pine martens have.  This photo makes me think of the story.  Look at those ears and little round bum!  The book is titled A Pika's Tail: A Children's Story About Mountain Wildlife, written by Sally Plumb.

As a former tour guide / driver in Yellowstone, I know I shouldn't anthropomorphise animals.  But doesn't it look as though these flowers could have been picked for purposes other than sustenance or nest building?

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