Spring is a mythical season in Jackson Hole. You hear stories about it from friends and old-timers who talk of the year when the grass was green and the flowers bloomed in April. In your heart you know it happens, but on days like today when you wake up to a fresh coating of snow, your heart sinks and you covet the glorious Spring days everyone else is enjoying around the country.
We know there is hope. We also know Mother Nature has a habit of keeping us in “mud-season” and then, with the flip of a switch, the next day you wake up to 70-degree temperatures and summer has arrived!
A few weeks ago we left the gates of the castle and took a road trip to Idaho to find Spring. The good news is we found it in Boise while visiting John’s sister. However, along the way through Salmon, Stanley and Sun Valley, the snow was still blanketing the hills and mountains. Despite waking up to a coating of snow on our tent our first morning, fun and fishing were still accomplished, and as always, gourmet camp cooking was a requirement.
I had never traveled through the Sawtooth mountains and have to admit my jaw dropped at the stunning beauty. Let’s face it, I am more than biased Jackson Hole with the Grand Teton Range is one of the most beautiful places on earth, but I have to give credit to those Idaho mountains. Wow.
Upon arriving in Boise, lush green grass awaited us, along with tulips, daffodils, flox and cherry blossoms. The warm sunshine was welcome medicine after a cold winter and too many gray Spring days. I felt like a kid laying down on the lawn and just enjoying the welcome smells and sensations of the grass.
Returning to Jackson is always wonderful, snow and all, and we tried to keep our thoughts positive. The allusive Spring will arrive, if only for few days before Summer makes its entrance.
On Easter Sunday I pulled out my camera which had acquired too much dust over the winter and decided to go for a drive and see what I could find to shoot. It was a glorious afternoon to take it all in.
First on my target list was the Kelly Road where you almost always can find wildlife. Sure enough, hundreds of elk were making their way off the National Elk Refuge and back into the mountains. Then, as I came around the corner, the bison had returned to their grazing grounds. The large, impressive animals lumbered and posed for the paparazzi who lined roads. Of course, there is always the jerk who goes speeding by and not only scares the animals but everyone else. Seriously, grow up!
Further up the road, and unfortunately too far away to get a shot, I counted 12 moose. Rarely do you see that many moose gathered together, but sometimes in the Spring I have seen this happen and it’s amazing.
But then, I saw it – Spring in its ultimate form. Two buffalo were off standing alone while the rest of the herd was on the other side of the road. When I looked closer, I saw something on the ground next to one of the cows. I quickly dug for the binoculars and yes, a FRESHLY born baby bison! Mom was cleaning the little one and was more than a little wobbly on her own legs. I quickly looked over to the other bison and sure enough, a calf was laying beside her as well, but a few hours older.
Growing up on a farm, one of the coolest experiences was watching the birth of a baby animal. You may wrinkle your nose, but seriously, it is incredible. We would always keep an eye on things just to make sure nothing went wrong, but it was a thrill to see within the hour, these little ones start to get their legs under them.
I waited for a good bit hoping I would get to see these calves take their first steps, but they decided on a nice long nap. As I pulled away, almost on cue, the rest of the herd began to cross the road and join the cows. The team circled up, ready to protect their newest members throughout the evening from predators who would undoubtedly be checking in.
Spring in Jackson Hole requires patience. During those times when the gray skies and damp, dreary days get the best of you, it is important to pause. Pause and remember the incredible winter of skiing and other winter activities you just enjoyed. Then remind yourself this too shall pass, and before long, the green grass will return, the lupine and balsamroot will bloom and you will be enjoying majestic views of Grand Teton National Park from trails, valleys and lakes which will unwrap like a welcome present in a few weeks.
Spring, it may be mythical, but it is a time of rebirth that is simply magical.