A male Greater sage grouse displays for a female during lekking, or mating season. Sage grouse carry on the elaborate mating ritual from around late March to early May, often in foul weather. Considered an umbrella, or keystone species for the health of the sagebrush ecosystem, the Greater sage grouse is "warranted, but precluded" from ESA protection.
A September 29, 2014 report by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department says Greater Sage-grouse populations have increased by 10% in 2014 compared to 2013 lek counts. Great, but what does it mean? The report explains recent wet spring conditions: Game and Fish Sage Grouse Coordinator Tom Christiansen said the increased numbers of birds are largely due to the good moisture conditions.
“Green equals grouse,” he said. “We have found when we get good moisture in the spring, but not cold wet weather during the peak nesting period, the birds will have better nesting success.” The report goes on to describe the cyclical nature of Sage-grouse populations that rise and drop with favorable and harsh conditions. We can be hopeful about the recent trend, great science, and remarkable work on behalf of a species here in the West; but it’s important to recognize that turning around a century-long decline will take time. Sage grouse are still on the brink.
Oxbow Predawn, Mount Moran Reflected in the Snake River, Grand Teton National Park, WY
Like all good things that don’t last long enough, the peak of autumn seemed to sneak up fast this year. I have a twisted fascination with Oxbow Bend in fall, typically a cluster of photographers packed in the sage lining the Snake River Bank. Tripods crossed, chattering away, tour buses parked, and million dollars in gear lining the river; I found myself in the photo mosh pit for two mornings – just trying to make my own image of this classic scene. The above photo captures purply predawn light and aspen below Mount Moran. I used a 3-stop neutral density filter to slow the shutter speed and smooth out ripples in the water. (more…)
Pronghorn buck chasing doe, Grand Teton National Park, WY
In the last warm light of the day, and while grazing with three does, this particular doe wandered a bit far and a chase ensued. I’ve seen it many times before, usually a straight line across the sage well into the distance. This time was different – she broke with the buck in pursuit, then led him in three or four fairly tight circles at high speed – pronghorn are North America’s fastest land mammal. During the autumn rut, the buck has to keep his harem together. The chase is serious business. These Teton pronghorn migrate on the Path Of The Pronghorn at the end of rut, a 120-160 mile journey through the Gros Ventre Mountains into the Green River Basin. Some travel as far as the Red Desert in one of North America’s longest land mammal migrations. May they continue to have freedom to roam.
Blood Red Sumac and Ponderosa Pine, Jefferson County Open Space, CO
We all need open spaces near home where we can touch nature and practice self expression – whether through a lens, exercise, or to just be. Fortunately, Jefferson County has an abundance of open spaces that are managed for multiple use. Coal Creek flows from a long canyon through the foothills onto ponderosa savannah shortgrass prairie. The intersect of prairie and Rocky Mountain foothills is biologically rich and a great place to explore. (more…)
A composite image showing the progression of the 'blood moon' lunar eclipse, October, 2014.
Last night moongazers across the world marveled at a lunar eclipse. The hunter’s moon, or “blood moon” passed through the earth’s shadow, turning a beautiful glowing red. Here in Colorado we had a total lunar eclipse and mostly clear skies until the moon returned to full near the horizon, our signal to go for bagel and coffee. It’s remarkable how losing sleep to be amazed by nature is energy giving.
Mont Blanc in full moonlight as clouds rise from the Chamonix Valley, France.
Marla peeked outside at midnight and said “the moon is up and the sky is clear!” I layed in the Lac Blanc Rifugio bed for an hour thinking about the scene outside before finally getting dressed. The storm had cleared and Mont Blanc was illuminated by a full moon, the scent of rain held by calm mountain air, cool, but not cold. I made my way to an overlook and watched in amazement as clouds streamed across the the Chamonix valley thousands of feet below, then danced around pinnacles of the massif, covering and revealing Mont Blanc. I photographed for over an hour, knowing that I’d awake and do it all over again in just a few hours. Sleep will come another day.
Great Gray Owl Prey Dive, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
I’m heading to Jackson, Wyoming for a presentation to the Sierra Club this week. It’s an exciting opportunity to build on a partnership with one of the top conservation groups, linking my Sage Spirit project work with Sierra Club’s “Preserve Our Wild America” campaigns. Circumstances are better than a year ago, when Congress willfully shut down our national parks, including Grand Teton and Yellowstone. If not for a few cooperative great gray owls and an open access road to the town of Kelly, the entire photo expedition would have been a bust. (Yes I’m still bitter, and no, I’ll never forgive this Congress!)
The Sierra Club is doing great work – please take a look at the Sierra Club when considering your charitable contributions.
Mont Blanc, Chamonix Pinnacles, and the Grand Jorasses - the Mont Blanc massif are reflected in still waters of Lac Blanc. Refuges along the Tour Du Mont Blanc give the trekker a place to rest and refuel while staying high in the Alps.
We’re shaking off the jet lag after a great European adventure – Marla planned the whole Tour Du Mont Blanc – all I had to do was show up with my boots and camera. And yes, I know how lucky I am From the Chamonix Valley in France, the “tour” circumnavigates the Mont Blanc Massif, typically an 8-12 day adventure using the excellent local hut, or refuge system. There are wild folks who run the whole thing in one gulp; the adventure race winner finished in around 20 hours. We saw a few of the competitors still on the course when we began our trek, hardy souls. The loop trek travels through France, Italy, and Switzerland, returning to the Chamonix Valley. Each day of trekking brings a new pass or “col” to climb and magical views. Our trek lasted eleven days with some downtime in Chamonix at the end. These mountains will have you shaking your head from start to finish. There are no foothills, just jagged vertical granite faces with glaciers plastered on them, flowing into the valleys below. Many more photos: (more…)
Little Bear Peak (14,047′) From Blanca Peak Summit (14,345′), Sangre De Cristo Wilderness, Colorado
Depending on how you count them, Colorado has between 54 and 58 peaks over 14,000 feet and it’s a big thing for adventurers to climb them all. There are main peaks and sub-peaks, and there has to be a 300 foot drop between the main and sub-peak for the smaller mountain to count as a fourteener. Mountain geek stuff. Marla and I have been plugging away on the list for over 20 years and have summitted 45 fourteeners now, some more than once, so we have nine or ten left. Each peak has its own special challenges – distance, remoteness, weather on a given day, route-finding, altitude fickleness, fatigue, etc. It’s inevitable to climb the easiest and close to home peaks first, then gradually spread your wings until you’re left with ten technically challenging peaks, the ante upped, with enough risk to question commitment. That’s where we’re at. On our recent climb of Blanca Peak, Colorado’s 4th highest at 14,345′, and one of the four sacred peaks to the Navajo, we studied Little Bear Peak. Despite it’s gentle name, Little Bear has a bad reputation, randomly taking a life with rockfall or some other twist of fate. The only good route passes through the hourglass, a narrow class 4 bowling alley of loose rock. Guidebooks suggest avoiding weekends and climbing early, so no one is above you in the hourglass. Rockfall is never good, especially when there’s no escape. As we studied Little Bear from Blanca’s glorious summit, we asked ourselves why? Do we need to climb that mountain and take on unnecessary risk? What’s this quest about, destination or the journey?
« Previous Entries
Sunrise grazes Warbonnet and Warrior Peaks reflected in Lonesome Lake. The Cirque Of The Towers is a world-renowned climbing area in the southern Wind River Range; the remarkable, vertical granite faces offer unlimited climbing options.
It’s hard to get back to places, but seven years later we made it back to the Wind River Range. The ’07 trip was a circuit in the northern part of the range, the New Fork River drainage. We’ve wanted to see the legendary Cirque Of The Towers and Deep Lake was a high priority, so we headed to the southern Wind River Range, southeast of Pinedale, Wyoming. (more…)
Page 1 of 2412345...1020...»Last »