Rainbow Rising Above Elk Herd

Each spring, thousands of elk migrate north from the National Elk Refuge into Grand Teton National Park, Bridger-Teton National Forest, and even beyond. Large herds occupy Antelope Flats for weeks as they follow the green grass sprouting up after the snow’s melted.

On one spring evening, I was heading home from a hike, and found a small elk herd in the flats. Within seconds, a rainbow appeared above them, a bright prismatic burst of color into the browns and greens of the scene. I captured the elk at the end of the rainbow, and as the rainbow began to fade, I chased it eastward into the Gros Ventre Mountains. I continued photographing it as it continued east with the light rains producing it in the late sun’s glow.

Finally, I had gone far enough. I was happy with the evening’s serendipitous escapades. I headed home, downloaded the photos, and eager to show off my prize, I logged on to Instagram, expecting to see others’ vantage points of the scenic rainbow. But no one had photographed the rainbow. Instead, my feed was filled with shots of Grizzly Bear #399 and her four cubs having just emerged from their den. For a moment, fear of missing out took over. I had missed an iconic event with my favorite bear, a bear that had changed my life as far back as 2008. Then rationalization took over.

Sure, Grizzly Bear #399 had emerged once again with her four cubs. But she was out. There’d be other opportunities with her (and there were). In addition, with the exception of four cubs, it was bears in the Pilgrim Creek Flats again, a familiar and predictable sight when scrolling through grizzly photos in Grand Teton National Park. In addition, I knew there would be hordes of people there nudging and clamoring for their shots. Then there was my shot. A bright rainbow filling a third of the frame, with elk posed perfectly at the end. I had the scene all to myself. I followed this rainbow with golden and vibrant landscapes all to myself. I hadn’t missed out on anything. I was rewarded.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.