Monday, December 7, 2009

The Moose of Wilson Road

After dinner at Moose Junction we decided to take a back road to Highway 22. Moose Wilson Road runs more or less parallel to US 89 but stays on the west side of the Snake River. It twists and turns and isn't in great shape, but what did we care? The scenery was amazing.

We came upon a turn to find a bunch of cars pulled off to the side. We couldn't see what was going on so we passed by, found a place to turn around, and parked. I grabbed my gear and we walked down a short slope to the edge of a pond. And who did we find there? Well, let's just say the road is aptly named.

There was a small group of people gathered in a clearing next to this beautiful cow moose. I was absolutely elated! I had never seen a moose up close and personal before! I stated shooting as soon as I could see her. She was browsing on alge and didn't seem to mind the cluster of facinated humans photographing her every move.

Slurp slurp. It was so quiet you could hear the water dripping off her snout.

While she didn't seem bothered much by us, she kept turning to her right and listening to something off in the grass, something none of us could see or hear. I don't think she had a calf nearby--I don't think she would have been so gracious with us if she had, and she didn't appear to be lactating, although by late July a calf might be weaned. Whatever the case, she was quite alert to the sounds behind her.

I like this one, seems like she's looking right at me. Perhaps she is.

What a beautiful creature. I had heard that moose can be quite aggressive, but she was very calm, even with all the cameras clicking and beeping.

I wonder if the alge on her nose is from her supper or if it's growing there. She looks a lot like a horse in this image. Moose are actually the largest member of the deer family--a bull moose can reach seven feet at the shoulder. A full grown bull moose wouldn't fit in most people's houses. This pretty lady was probably around five feet at the shoulder, still a formidable animal.

Slurp slurp....

I could have stayed there all night watching her. I must have taken over 100 photos (gotta love digital photography!). Picking a handful to post was difficult. We'll leave her with my favorite pose.

We returned to Driggs before sundown and I busied myself by downloading the day's images to our laptop and clearing my camera cards. One of the windows in our second-floor hotel room faced east, with a repsectable view of the Teton range. I happened to look up just as the sun was going down. There before me, in all its glory, was Grand Teton Mountain, flanked by Teewinot, under a haze of rain-filled cloud, illuminated by the setting sun.

I grabbed my camera, popped the screen out of the window and took this shot. What a moment.

Our first full day in the West had been absolutely spectacular--pronghorn, mountain streams and moose!-- and I didn't see how Yellowstone could top this. Boy was I in for a pleasant surprise!

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