Better Naming for our Geographic Features

First Light on Devil's Tower

I’ve always been bored with the naming of many of the geographic features found throughout the United States. How many Boulder Creeks, Deer Creeks, and Bear Creeks are there in this country? Even just right here in Jackson Hole, we have two different Granite Canyons. A quick stroll through Google Maps will uncover many more similarly named areas. And if it’s not something with a trite name, it was named for someone who most likely never even saw the place. Take for example five different spots in Yellowstone National Park all within just a few minutes of driving from each other: Lewis Canyon; Lewis River; Lewis Falls; Lewis Lake; the Lewis Channel Dogshead, all named after Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis & Clark Party, neither of whom ever stepped foot anywhere near what is today Yellowstone National Park. While it was a nice gesture, the names do nothing to add to what the feature actually is.
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Categorized: Article
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Hiking the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve

Fall Cottonwoods and New Snow
Elevation Change at the LSR and Phelps Lake

Elevation change at the LSR and Phelps Lake
The highest peaks were along the Aspen Ridge Trail and the Phelps Lake Loop. Elevation profile and route below courtesy of the HAZ Tracks App

Distance (one way): 1.5 miles to many more if desired
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Best time of year: Year-round

In 2001, Laurance S. Rockefeller donated his family’s getaway ranch to Grand Teton National Park, ultimately becoming the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve (LSR). Upon its completion, the public now had more access to brand new trails and Phelps Lake, a jewel of a glacial lake found at the mouth of Death Canyon. The park created some excellent trails extending from the Visitor Center at the preserve that offer relaxed strolls through the woods to the lake, as well as trails that are a bit longer and a bit steeper for those wanting a bit more of a challenge but that might be short on time.
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Categorized: Hiking and Backpacking, Wyoming
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Hiking Picacho Peak

Desert Floor Below Picacho Peak

Distance (one way): 1.5 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Best time of year: Fall, Winter, Spring

Picacho Peak remains one of my all-time favorite hikes. It’s a great adventure up a solitary desert peak for any skill level!

Located nearly halfway between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, Picacho Peak shoots out of the desert floor over 1,400 feet, ultimately reaching an elevation of 3,374 feet above sea level. Interestingly enough, it was also the site of the second western-most battle in the Civil War.

The hike begins on the floor of the Sonoran Desert as you begin ascending toward the walls of the peak. In spring, you’ll notice a blanket of colorful wildflowers accompanying the saguaro, barrel, and other cacti variety along the trail, which climbs steeply as more detailed is revealed in the cliffs ahead. There’s quite a bit of interesting geology for such a (relatively) small peak in the middle of the desert!
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Categorized: Arizona, Hiking and Backpacking
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String Lake to Cascade Canyon

Fog on String Lake

Distance (one way): 6.2 miles (to the end of Cascade Canyon)
Difficulty: Easy
Best time of year: Summer, Fall

On a normal summer day, I wouldn’t go anywhere near Cascade Canyon unless I were coming out from a larger, overnight trip. However in late July of this year, we received an unusual dusting of snow in the higher elevations. I probably would have gone backpacking to get a better view, but I had already made plans days earlier to be in town in the morning. However with those plans cancelled at the last minute, I decided to spend the morning getting some good views, and the closest views I could get in the shortest amount of time were in Cascade Canyon. I knew String Lake would look spectacular as well, so I started there at sunrise.

The String Lake trailhead itself has some spectacular views of the Tetons from several different vantage points.
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Categorized: Hiking and Backpacking, Wyoming
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The Other Side of Doubt and the View 22 Project

Rainbow Over Aspens

Earlier this season, I was honored to have been included in the Jackson Hole Land Trust’s View 22 Project. In previous years, only a handful of local artists were selected to portray lands that the Land Trust has protected over the course of their existence. This year, however, they expanded it to 35 artists covering all different mediums. As one of the 35, I happily agreed.

The property I was assigned is a small piece of land located along the border of town along the Flat Creek corridor, between Snow King and Josie’s Ridge. As someone whose favorite places are away from civilization and light pollution, I began to have a little trouble finding the motivation to see what kind of photo I would ultimately capture. I was most thinking of trying to get a shot around sunrise and night, but this proved to be a little trickier than I initially anticipated.
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Categorized: How I Shot It, Landscape
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