Trip Report: Grand Teton National Park – September 2021 

Grand Teton. Jackson Hole. Jenny Lake. Alluring words render a vast memory bank of experiences. Jackson Wyoming has such a reputation. Amongst snow seekers, mountain bikers, trail riders, and shutterbugs alike, the mere word Jackson conjures a sly smile. If you’ve been there, you’re sure to be back. If not, it is undoubtedly high on your list of buckets. 

Jackson Wyoming is situated at the southern end of the Teton Range, the youngest portion of the Rocky Mountains. Six to nine million years ago movement along the Teton Fault caused the Earth’s crust to stretch and thin. The west block of crust rose to form the Teton Range, while the east block dropped to form the valley of Jackson Hole.

I had the blessing to spend five of the past seven weeks in and around Glacier Nation Park. With only four days to spend in Grand Teton National Park, it’s all systems go. Fortunately, with Matt Meisenheimer in the lead, we’ll no doubt shoot until the cows come home. As with all of our pro photographers, we love to shoot …

It is September 21, 2021. We’re in Jackson Wyoming and smiling our sly smiles. Matt Meisenheimer and I greet our eager group of six photographers at the Snow King Mountain Resort. Excitement and anticipation fill the air, as we are about to embark on a photographer’s delight on this Grand Teton National Park trip. Just to be in Jackson is such a treat. Endless dining options coupled with world-class photography make this trip second to none. 

 The next morning we head out to our first sunrise shot, at a little-known spot handpicked by Matt. The setting is picture-perfect.  

We are treated to low-valley clouds moving slowly across the cool morning sky. Overnight, the ground loses temperature and releases, back into the air, the heat it gathered from the sun. This occurs at or near ground level. Dense, cool air from the mountain tops sinks into the valley. This only occurs during the cooler mornings in the fall. Divine time. 

Afterward, we head over to the Mormon Row barns, a famous photography destination and home to 27 historic barn or homestead sites.   

Mormon settlers from Idaho migrated here in the late 1890s. The US Post Office names this area of homesteads Grovont. It is known today as Mormon Row. The Mormon settlers used irrigation canals to grow crops. They dug the irrigation ditches by hand with the help of horse teams. Some of these canals still help with flowing water today. 

Afterward, we head over to the Gros Ventre River, a 74.6 mile tributary to the Snake River. These two beautiful rivers confluence in the Jackson Hole Valley. En route, we encounter a herd of pronghorn. These amazing creatures can run close to 60 mph. Although not as fast as a cheetah, they can maintain a faster speed for a longer duration than a cheetah.   

Snake River Overlook. The destination for our first sunset shoot. This location was made famous by none other than Ansel Adams.  

Ansel took his famous shot in 1942. He would have had to drive over rough dirt roads since the highway from Moose Junction to Moran Junction wasn’t built until around 1958. 

Sunrise on day three brings us to Oxbow Bend. This is one of the highlights of the entire trip for me. Beautiful light, fall colors, placid water, and a bit of atmosphere set the stage nicely.   

Each day seems to get better than the day prior. Matt and I continue to pack in the photoshoots, often going to more than one location for sunrise and sunset. There is too much going on to do it otherwise. This all culminates in our final sunrise shot near the upper lot of Schwabacher’s Landing, a clear trip highlight for us all.   

Huge thanks to each of the guests on this trip, and to Matt Meisenheimer, for leading yet another amazing Backcountry Journeys trip! 

Michael Wichman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Wichman is a photography and wilderness guide based out of Flagstaff, AZ.  His first trip below the rim in Grand Canyon was in October 2004 and he hasn’t looked back since. He’s passionate about all wild and scenic places, with a love of capturing images, hiking, and climbing. With nearly 10 years of professional guiding and trip leading, Michael continues to be dedicated to lifelong learning, and an avid reader of all things associated with Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Katmai, and many wilderness areas in the Western US.  In addition to wildlife and landscape photography, his favorite topics are geology, Native American culture, and Pioneer-era history. Michael also loves meeting new people — of all backgrounds, ages, and ethnicities. He finds shared group experiences extremely enriching, especially when that experience is in nature. Michael earned a B.A. in psychology from UCLA, where he worked with children with autism. He also studied at Northern Arizona University, focusing on Environmental Science & Policy in the Southwest. Michael looks forward to the opportunity to provide quality photography instruction while sharing adventures with you.

 

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