We arrived on schedule, May 12, and received a warm welcome from Brad and Joanne, the owners and our employers here at Luton's Teton Cabins.
We settled on our site for the summer. This is actually a picture from the summer before. It isn't that green in mid-May! One of our new coworkers, Melissa, was already here, and Dan and Jonell arrived a couple of days after us. A new couple, Erin and Shawn, arrived shortly thereafter, and returnees Ken and Jodi arrived last. Spring cleaning of the cabins started in earnest, and we were pretty well-booked right from the get-go for the season.
It was still early enough for snow, and we saw these herds of elk and bison on one of our first drives through the park.
It was a banner year for snowfall on the Teton Range, and the snow lingered in the mountains quite far into the summer. We also had a great season for moose sightings. We saw more moose this year than any other year.
We had a late-June snowfall, and on our drive up to Togwotee Pass to see how much snow fell up there, we had this handsome grizzly dash across the road in front of us.
An early season trip to Yellowstone showed a lot of snow in the higher elevations, a buffalo jam on the road in the Firehole Canyon, and really nice flow in the waterfalls.
The Heron Pond Swan Lake is a favorite hike of ours.
We visited the Cutthroat trout fish hatchery for the first time, and learned that the guys can actually go fishing on the property and catch one fish a day if they want! The trumpeter swans had the fishing lake staked out.
We did the hike to Phelps Lake, another favorite. Fortunately, just as we arrived there, we heard thunder rumbling in the distance. We picked up the pace considerably and made it back to the car just as all hell broke loose! I felt bad for all the hikers we had met going up to the lake as we were dashing back. You really need to pay attention to the weather in the mountains.
On the way there, we stopped at one of our favorite moose-viewing sites and spotted mama and baby.
Every summer, we need to take a ride over to Idaho Falls to the Quest Diagnostics lab for Al's semiannual bloodwork. Quest Labs is our network facility and the only place we can get the bloodwork done "in network," so it's over to Idaho we go. We made a day of it and visited Mesa Falls while over there.
The high snowfall this past winter caused very high rivers, which did cause a lot of localized flooding and road damage, but the wetness also created an awesome wildflower season. These pictures are from a forest road near the cabins that we like to drive.
String Lake is way up on my list of favorites, both hiking and kayaking.
We were supposed to go kayaking one day with Ken and Jodi, but the weather was rainy and cold, so we settled on an alternate plan. We drove east from Moran, a direction we really haven't explored yet. We found Brooks Falls after a short hike from a National Forest campground.
Continuing on to the town of Dubois (pronounced "Doo-boys"), we visited the Bighorn Sheep Visitor Museum. While there, we saw a brochure for a wildlife drive north of town and followed the road to the end. There's a trailhead there, and we took the short hike to the waterfalls. There are much longer ones and one that goes to a lake that we're going to investigate next summer. We just weren't prepared for a longer hike today. On the way back through Dubois, we stopped at the Cowboy Cafe for a piece of pie and coffee, and it was totally worth the stop! We will be headed back there next summer for sure.
A highlight of the summer was the 2017 Solar Eclipse on August 21. The ranch was a mere 10 miles or so from the line of totality. I think we were something like 99.7% of totality. It was close enough! The actual line was through the Jackson Hole Airport. We had been booked at 100% occupancy for almost three years leading up to this event. It's not something that I would have gone out of my way to see, but I am so glad we were here for it. We had a large group of photographers, scientists, and researchers staying here, who brought all kinds of equipment for viewing and photographing the eclipse. This is the one group from The Great Outdoors L.A.
They had everything set up in the yard in front of the cabins for a few days, and they welcomed anyone to come over and check things out.
We organized a potluck dinner for everyone staying with us the night before the eclipse, and I do believe everyone came and had a great time. The dinner itself was well received by all, and we were told what a great thing it was and how nice it was to get to know everyone staying there. After all, they were all here for a common cause with common interests!
The night before, after the dinner, the Great Outdoors L.A. folks put on a slide show and lecture about a different eclipse they had gone to where they were on a ship in the Baltic Sea. It was very interesting and informative, telling us what was going to happen and the different things we should be watching for during the eclipse.
Ken and Jodi were ready with their special glasses.
At different phases of the eclipse, they would take pictures of the partial eclipse through this cutout. It was pretty cool.
I got one picture through one of the telescopes with my phone :-). If you're really interested in pictures, the group sent this link, where all their pictures are. They are really good!
We did another hike to Inspiration Point with Dan and Jonell...
and we had some visitors this summer: Richard and Bonnie Waltman...
and Pat and Diana Brown all came at the end of August and we did a few things, including the hike to Emma Matilda Lake. John and Carol Herr, who were working for GTA, joined us as well. It's really awesome that we get to see folks all around the United States.
Al and Dan got a lot of fishing in this year. We brought our SeaEagle Runabout with us this year, and they got it set up for float fishing on the Buffalo Fork River.
In September, we had the great fortune to see Grizzly 399 and her twin cubs just a couple of miles from the ranch. Unfortunately, I did not have my camera with me :-(, but Jonell came up and got some really nice shots.
These are both Jonell's pictures.
Carol also got a beautiful picture of the three of them at a different time. 399 is like our rock star around here. She is 20 years old and has had several broods of cubs. She almost always hangs around areas of the park where she is visible, making it easy for people to see the cubs. There is a downside to that, though; last year, her cub Snowy was hit and killed by a car in early June.
As September wound down, we started the fall cleaning of the cabins to prepare for their October closing. We were still very busy, as it seems more and more people are discovering that September is a great month to visit the area....shh, don't tell anyone! We were also preparing for our October 1 departure. Saying goodbye to everyone is hard, but Dan, Jonell, Erin, and Shawn are returning next summer, and we will see Ken and Jodi in Florida this winter. Time to move on to new adventures....a bucket list item: the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta!