About MeI live in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where I explore the deeper reaches of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem while also trying to raise awareness about light pollution and the importance of dark skies through photography and video.
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TagsWyoming Mountains Grand Teton National Park Landscape Wildlife Snow Water Wildlife Article Desert Southwest Night Storms Article Panorama Cottonwood Trees Bears Yellowstone National Park Canyon Arizona Panorama Milky Way Galaxy Video National Elk Refuge Video Wolves Fall Leaves Utah Wildflowers Aspen Trees Travel Logs Bridger-Teton National Forest Oxbow Bend Grizzly Bear #399 and Family Fog Northern Lights
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There’s been a lot more activity in the northern lights lately over Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Grand Teton National Park. Many believed the peak of the solar cycle was going to hit last year, which turned out to be a relatively quiet year. With all the activity lately however, some are beginning to question whether we might be hitting the peak now, later than expected.
Regardless, skies have been lighting up recently over the area, with even more on the way! If you’re wondering how to know if they’re out in your area or not, keep an eye on a website called SpaceWeatherLive.com. I check the data listed there every night to see if there’s any chance of seeing them where I live in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. While all the data listed there plays some role, the two main sections that I pay the most attention to are the Direction of the IMF (Bz) and the Kp-Index.
This turned out to be my last day on the trail for the season. It was a hard decision to make, but ultimately the trip was poorly timed and I went way over budget on the trip as a whole. It was a decision I came to after thinking about it quite a bit the previous few days on the trail, but on this day it seemed inescapable.
The day started early in the morning while it was still dark outside. There were some scattered showers when I went to bed, but I was woken up in the middle of the night when the wind started to pick up and I heard a nearby crack of thunder, no more than two miles away or so. Nervous, I eventually fell back asleep thankful that that was the only one.
I woke up when it was starting to get lighter out to complete cloud cover, so there was no sunrise that morning.
I got an early start, leaving camp by 7:15am. It was still nice and cool out so it made for great conditions on the climb up to Manning Camp near the top of Mica Mountain. The other plus was that I was beating the gnats out and could actually enjoy my hike for a bit without being pestered by them.
After a cottontail rabbit jumped into the trees, I noticed that a cloud was perfectly placed to block the sun as the junipers began giving way to ponderosa pines. It wasn’t long at all before I was high up in the forest and the cool air, a very welcome change from the heat of the day before.
At 8,000 feet elevation, Manning Camp is a great escape for locals and a great stop along the Arizona Trail. Having made it up in just under three hours, I decided to stop and have some food and a rest since I was happy with my pace.
This day was a day filled with mixed emotions and experiences. I started off acknowledging a lot of the worry that had been following me onto the trail, and made an intent to release them. While feeling lighter and better about the day early on, I came out of the small desert mountains beyond the ranch, where the trail opened up into a large valley between Saguaro National Park and myself. I also ran into Hemlock who was heading south, someone I had been chatting with before each of us started the trail. We had a nice conversation before we continued in our respective directions.
It was mostly flat and easygoing for the next several miles. Chipmunks, butterflies, and cottontail rabbits all fled the trail in front of me through the wildflowers and cactus. I soon rounded a corner and came upon a snake lying in the middle of the trail.
It was a bittersweet and subsequently uneventful day. After having a great few days with Giggles, we realized that her leg was too injured to continue on the trail and that I would finish on my own. The trail didn’t change much in terms of diversity so my mind was stuck on her and whether the loneliness away from her would prevent me from finishing.
The trail was far from bland though. It weaved in and out of rolling hills and washes saturated with cactus, desert vegetation, and even wildflowers. Two welcomed features to shake up the scenery were a protected area around Cienega Creek where the trail dipped into shade and cool breezes beneath cottonwoods, and the other was when the trail went through a long tunnel underneath I-10. It’s the little things.
As I approached La Posta Quemada Ranch, which didn’t seem too keen on talking to hiker-types, the sun was beginning to get low, so I knew I’d need to find a place to camp soon.