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Yellowstone Web Log

Posted By: James Morrissey

Yellowstone Web Log - 07/17/05 02:30 PM

Well, we started off with a REALLY rocky start yesterday. We were supposed to fly out to Salt Lake City last night at 5:30 PM. The only problem is that apparantly our airline 'lost our tickets' even though I had an on-line reservation number and they had our names and itinery in the computer. I have never heard of THAT happening. We were also told that we can't get a flight (with our miles) until Monday..

Much of yesterday was spent canceling hotels and car rentals. I can say that all of the vendors we were dealing with are wonderful and that we wound up not having to pay for our change in stays except one - which is a small business in Jackson, and I gave them our blessing to charge us as we were supposed to stay there today.

We also are getting a chance to see some relatives for longer than normal, so all is not lost. We are missing a day in the Tetons and a day in the park though, which is sad. I had never stayed in Lake before and was really looking forward to it.

BTW, for those interested in lenses. We now have added the 500 8 mirror lens to our collection as well. First impressions...well, it is too early to say yet. I will say that it is AMAZINGLY light and pretty sharp for 140 dollars. :)

Posted By: James Morrissey

Re: Yellowstone Web Log - 07/17/05 02:32 PM

BTW, I got a PM from Johnny CB. I am hopeful that we will all get to meet in the Tetons on our way up to Mammoth.

My wife is telling me that we should just get off of our butts and drive....very very fast. :)

Posted By: James Morrissey

Re: Yellowstone Web Log - July 19th - 07/24/05 02:29 PM

July 19th.

We traveled from Salt Lake City to Mammoth National Park, starting at about 10 AM EST. We went the 'long' route, following I89 instead of taking 215 (which is much faster). We went through several national forests - something that I have not done in years.

We drove through Caribou, Bridger, Cache, Targhee and Bridger National Forests. While it was still obviously only the briefest view of the forests, it was beautiful and much more pleasant to drive than on a major interstate highway.

We decided to drive up through Jackson and the Tetons into Mammoth instead of going up through the West Enterance. We were also hoping to run into JohnnyCB, whom we have been in contact with as our trips are coinciding. Unfortunately, we crossed paths and were unable to meet.

We wound up in Mammoth at around 8 PM EST. There was a group of bull elk about 10 miles south of Mammoth Hotsprings. They had huge racks but were out in the distance. Unfortunately, the weather was significantly cloudy and I did not get the sunset that I want (I have been looking for a particular sunset in Mammoth).

Posted By: James Morrissey

Re: Yellowstone Web Log - July 20th - 07/24/05 11:29 PM

My wife and I woke up and left Mammoth at about 6:15 AM. Sunrise had been about 45 minutes earlier and light was coming in from a very pleasing angle. The great thing about getting up early is that there are virtually no other people in the park who are moving.

Wildlife was quite abundant. Within 5 miles of Mammoth (going towards the Tower Junction and the East Enterance)we saw several female elk and again four very large bachelors...with some having six points. The light was poor to doing anything but shoot silhouettes (photos to come).

At 13.6 miles from Mammoth, and about 1.8 miles from the Tower Ranger Station, there was a baby black bear moving up the side of the landscape. He was not in a great place to photograph and we were anxious that Momma was not to far away and did not want to push our luck.

After leaving Tower Junction and moving towards the East Enterance, we had the opportunity to see a group of Prong-horn Antelope. It was the closest I ever had the opportunity to get...the photographs were REALLY good (photos to come). FYI, we past that area several times over the next few days and a small heard of antelope were regularly there. In 10 years of trips to Yellowstone, this was the largest number of prong-horn Antelope that I have ever seen.

Continuing East towards Montana, we saw a massive heard of buffalo...all before 8 AM.

At 10:30 AM, near the Calcite Springs Overlook, we saw two dears and fawns. The conditions were very bright...and the photographic day was starting to wind down until the evening. We spent much of the day scouting areas for the next day and shooting landscapes when possible.

Some interesting photographic spots in the NE area of the park:

(1) The road between Tower Falls and the Chittenden Road has SPECTACULAR wildflowers. Many people are not going down the road either because the Dunraven Pass is closed. This is unfortunate, as the Dunraven Pass is regularly a great place to view and photograph wildlife.

(2) Slough Creek has some beautiful spots. There were some beautiful prong-horn antelope. We were also told there were some wolves in the area...though they were so far away that a spotting scope was necessary to view them.

It turns out that the Druid pack has been pushed out of Lamaar Valley. They are now called the "Agate" group and are now found near Cache Creek. The new dominant group in the area is called the Slough (pronounced 'Slew') Creek. Peek viewing hours are in the mornings between 5 AM and 8:30 AM and after 6 PM.
Posted By: James Morrissey

Re: Yellowstone Web Log - Saturday July 20th - 07/25/05 04:10 AM

We left Mammoth, after two nights, at 6 AM on the 20th. The Mammoth Hotel was more than adequate in its accomodations - though they are a bit spartan. Our goal was to wind up at Old Faithful Ski Lodge, where we were staying on the 20th.

We saw lots of wildlife straight away. Upon leaving Mammoth (again towards the East Enterance as we were trying to see wolves at Slough Creek), we saw a beautiful coyote with a collar on its neck. We also saw our first Marmut as well by the Hell Roaring Trail towards Tower Junction. Apparantly, they are all over the place. I am more observant about some things, I guess. :)

The Slough Creek effort was in vain. We spent more than a couple of hours watching the area. We DID see a wolf, but it was so far away that it was not photographable. We headed towards West Yellowstone as it became very clear that sunblock alone does not do it alone. So, I picked up a fisherman's hat as I just cannot picture myself, a city boy, in a cowboy hat.

About 1.5 miles before the Madison Junction from Mammoth, we spotted a large bull elk. He was a healthy size with 6 points. I only was able to get a few shots of him (shot coming)..

We then did Hayden Valley - where there were lots of buffalo scattered throughout. We were lucky enough to capture some of the herd crossing the river (picture coming). We also stopped at the Mud Pots - where I did some test work with the 500 F8 mirror lens that I had purchased for the trip. I had very inconsistent results with the mirror lens, some of them excellent, some not. I will publish my results later after I have had a chance to view them on my CRT at home. I don't always trust the LCD.

We next made our way towards the Sylvan Pass from Hayden Valley. The Sylvan Pass area is under construction - which is a pity as some of the best wildlife is normally found there. I saw no grizzly's this year - which is a bit sad to me. However, I DID get some more great wildflower shots in the area.

The last wildlife we photographed was in the Lake Area. I thought I had nailed some beautiful shots of some mule deer. I was a bit disappointed when I saw them on my LCD as they were softer than they appeared in my LCD display (photos coming).

The night we arrived at Old Faithful Snow Lodge in time for sunset. We had hoped to get photogaphs of Old Faithful blowing, but unfortunately, the sky did not cooperate. We stayed in a cabin at Old Faithful Snow Lodge. At first, the accomodations appeared great. However, there were some problems with a pack of squirrels (or something) that had made the roof their home making sleep a bit difficult. However, ultimately, it was fine. Squirrels need a place to stay too, and we were so exhausted that we crashed to the sweet sound of pitter pattering without much difficulty.
Posted By: Sheebs

Re: Yellowstone Web Log - July 20th - 07/25/05 09:29 AM

I've really enjoyed reading this, James. I hope it's ok to post in your blog.. if not, you can remove it.

Sounds like you were a stones throw from our hometown!

Did you travel through Soda Springs then? We usually take that route. It's always so colorful in the Fall. We are taking some bridals portraits in Cache National Forest this weekend. There is a waterfall and some nice scenery there for sure!

Speaking of bridals, I told my daughter that works there in Yellowstone that when she gets married (no plans to, but I've already got the idea in my head. LOL) that we will have to go to Yellowstone to the Lake Lodge and take her bridals there. Beautiful old building with a lake view!?! Can't beat that!

Looking forward to more posts here.
Posted By: James Morrissey

Re: Yellowstone Web Log - Saturday July 20th - 07/25/05 01:33 PM

Hi Sheebs,

I am not sure if I was in Soda Springs or not, but I COULD have been. BTW, when your daughter gets married, give me a call. :) We did not stop in on her though we were at Yellowstone. I figured it just MIGHT freak her out to have my wife and I popping in on someone we did not know.

Anyway, I am glad to have you (or anyone) post in my weblog. The goal was more to show what we are doing and where we are going.

More will come tonight when I have time to process my notes. We are starting the drive back to Salt Lake later.

Posted By: James Morrissey

Re: Yellowstone Web Log - July 22nd - 07/26/05 03:25 AM

We woke up late at Old Faithful Snow Lodge this morning (around 8 AM). We had breakfast as it was very cloudy still and the light was not great.

As the light improved, we started photographing the geyser basin at Old Faithful. The light was not great and we stopped once it got too bright. We decided to go out and scout wildlife. It was a poor day for the wildlife that day. For whatever reason, people seemed especially belligerant towards the other animals.

At 12:30 PM, the highlight of my day occurred. We napped. The sun was high and we had just gotten off near the firehole river. When we awoke, there must have been 50 people simming in the waters there. Nice idea for the next trip.

At about 1:50 PM, 3 miles past Madison Junction (toward Canyon), we saw a group of 10 female elk and 2 relative newborns crossing the River. A little down the road, we saw two bull elk. We sat and watched them for about two hours. The audiences around the elk were a bit irritating and it was hard to do any decent photography with all of the people harassing the elk. We were located across the river from them, away from the rest of the folks who were watching/clapping at the elk. Eventually, they got bored and left. The elk then got up and I got some nice shots (coming).

At 5 PM, we encountered a cow elk and her baby. We sat with them for about 1/2 hour undisturbed until Momma went out to get some food in the creek. There were close to 50 people who then surrounded momma and baby. We melted into the background and got a ranger to help the cow with her baby. She was obviously feeling backed into a corner.

Last, at about 7:30, we sat with two other bulls, which we had initially thought were the same bachelors we saw earlier in the day. They had nicer racks though (pictures coming). Several tourists walked right up to the elk to take their pictures with their 35-105 mm digicams.

I have NEVER seen behavior this borish towards the other animals in the park. For the most part, I was pleasantly surprised at how well everyone did considering how packed the park is. Today was just rough. It helped create a lot of stressed animals and I think that it makes photographing the wildlife more difficult. We DID get some nice shots though.

At 8:30 PM, the light in the Hayden Valley (on our way to Grant Village) was spectacular. The grasses all had a beautiful orange green. There were allegedly two grizzly's in the back, but they were so far out that one needed to resort to spotting scopes to see them.

That evening during the sunset, a powerful lightning storm occurred. I have some hand held shots of lightning crossing the river. Nothing really impressive as we were in a hurry to get to Grand Lodge. However, there WAS a double rainbow (well, one and a quarter, anyway) that we took at ISO 1600. Came out much better than I expected. It was a wild experience.

BTW, for folks who are interested, Grant Village Lodge is pretty nice. The restaurant was quite good - the best we had in the park. The next best was in Mammoth. Old Faithful was a disappointment on all counts.

The next day, we would go to Jackson (and my first internet connection in 4 days).
Posted By: rustin

Re: Yellowstone Web Log - July 22nd - 07/26/05 07:34 PM

Sounds like a great trip so far. I am leaving on 20 August for a 3 month tour of the National Parks. I just ordered a 10-22mm for my 20d. I am getting really restless. We have no plans. Just an Atlas and a National Parks pass. It should be really fun. I bought a 1972 Ford Sportsmobile van RV. It looks really great and drives like a dream. I can not wait to see your photos. Rustin
Posted By: James Morrissey

Re: Yellowstone Web Log - July 22nd - 07/28/05 12:25 PM

Hey Rustin,

The 10-22 Lens is absolutely spectacular. I had a few quibbles with it, but over-all, it has it where it counts. I found myself using the 10-22 a whole lot and my 16-35 F2.8 L a whole lot less. I am writing up a small user review as we speak. I hope that it will be ready to go up in the next week.

Posted By: James Morrissey

Re: Yellowstone Web Log - July 23rd - 07/28/05 12:47 PM

The morning we left Grant Village turned into a 'vcation day.' We got up at around 9 AM - mostly because the clock was set wrong (PM instead of AM) and the alarm did not go off. Breakfast at Grant Village was very good.

We started off and headed out towards the East Enterance. We drove over fishing bridge and took some scenics over Lake. However, the road was under construction and we turned around before hitting the Sylvan Pass. We were hoping to find grizzly, but were not able to. We DID take some more wild flower photographs. They were great.

We cut down (south) and re-traced our foot steps, going back around Grant and up towards Old Faithful. We stopped at the Midway Geyser Basin at about 1 PM and napped for about 1/2 hour. Then, we photographed what we could. The sky had nice fluffy clouds and even though the hour was late, the light was not overly-objectionable (at that time, often, the light is so strong that it is very hard to photograph).

I used the 10-22 for most of the shots at the Midway Geyser Basin. I was surprised that given how much water was all around the parks (much higher water levels than in past years) that the geysers in the Midway Geyser Basin appeared to be so empty. I do not know what could have caused this. However, one of my favorite places to photograph became a bit of a disappointment photographically.

Later, we climbed the Artist's Paint Pots Trailhead. It was interesting because biologists were working in the stream bed with some park rangers.

Afterwards, we made our way towards the West Gate and drove to Jackson Hole via Montana and Idaho - going down Route 22 through Ashton, Driggs and Victor. We have been debating purchasing land in Victor or Alpine as an investment property. Victor, IMO, was the nicest town within 25 miles of Jackson (though tiny in comparison to Jackson) and relatively close to the Parks area. However, I now understand the price differential in land. Jackson is VERY expensive. The outlying towns are incredibly affordable.

It was a bit odd to see the Grand Tetons backwards...:) It is a pity that the weather was cloudy and hazy as I think that it would have potentially been a nice photograph...particularly at sunrise. Normally, most photographs I have seen are taken from the other side of the mountains (often from Schawbanger's (sp) point).

It was here that we had the opportunity to find out what "The Pass" is. All I can say is 'whoa.' The Pass is a road that goes up the edge of the mountain between Victor and Wilson Wyoming. It also has no guard rails for much of the drive. While it was definitely 'doable' during the summer, the idea of going up that in the winter on an icy road - or at night - is daunting. I have never seen anything like that in my life.

We wound up in Jackson at about 7 PM and stopped in on our friend, Janet, at the Buckrail Lodge (where we were staying). In my opinion, this is the neatest and cleanest lodge in Jackson and is very affordable. We have been staying there for years and the proprieter has become a friend over time. It was nice to be back - and to have a TV again (the rooms in the parks have no TV...which was OK). They have no telephones in the rooms but do have wireless internet. Go figure. :)

We ate at a restaurant in Jackson called the Merry Piglets. The salsa is QUTIE good - and even though the food was decent, I was still lamenting the loss of their chips, which used to be in the shape of pigs ears.

We got in, did our first web log, and crashed til the next morning.

Posted By: Johnnycb

Re: Yellowstone Web Log - July 23rd - 07/29/05 05:11 PM

We ate at a restaurant in Jackson called the Merry Piglets. The salsa is QUTIE good - and even though the food was decent, I was still lamenting the loss of their chips, which used to be in the shape of pigs ears.

James, we ate at the same place.....being from Texas we needed our Mexican food

We are now in Colorado Springs.....Manitou Springs to be exact. When I get back to Texas I'll post links to my pictures. I think there is some really nice stuff. I did go to West Yellowstone and have two DVDs burned of my first 4 gigs plus of pictures as I was not trusting my Delkin Picture Pad. I now have another 4+ gigs to offload and/or burn before doing some more work here in the Springs area. I hope to go out and shoot some fly fisherman who will actually catch something.

Did you see any eagles or the trumpeter swans near West Yellowstone on the Madison River?

Moose?.... I was able to finally find some nice bulls and got some great shots but the mosquitoes chased me away before he finally moved down to the river to drink. I waited and waited for that opportunity but lost out to the blood suckers.

Sorry we didn't get to hookup.....would have been nice to meet you.

-JM [/quote]
Posted By: James Morrissey

Re: Yellowstone Web Log - July 23rd - 07/30/05 03:19 PM

Hey Johnny,

Glad to see you made it out. :) Where did you see the Bull Moose?

As for bald eagles - yes, I saw several in the park - mostly the South West areas from Old Faithful to Madison Jct. Otherwise, most of the big birds were Ospreys. I saw several geese/swans in the Oxbow Bend area of the Tetons.

Posted By: James Morrissey

Re: Yellowstone Web Log - July 24th - 07/30/05 03:26 PM

My wife and I were up and out around 7:30 AM. We stayed in for coffee with the Colonel. Afterwards, we did breakfast at Jedediah's in Jackson. Jedediah's is 'home of the sourdough pankcake.' Everything is sour dough...and sour it is. When they say it, they mean it. They make a decent omelette, but I was not prepared for the breads/pancakes (reguardless of the name).

We started off down the Moose Wilson Trail and the Death Canyon Trail Heads. Moose Wilson leads out of Teton Village. It was beautiful. We saw two moose cows while there - both appeared to be adolescents to me. Old enough to be on their own, but not mothers themselves.

We spent several hours photographing the moose. However, I wound up getting poison sumack (or some such skin rot) while in the folliage. It was worth it.

Afterwards, we went to Jenny Lake and did some hiking. We got back to Jackson at around 4:30 PM so we drove out behind the Elk Refuge looking for Bighorn Sheep. None.

At 6 PM we met a wedding photographer friend of ours in Jackson. He took us to the various galleries and introduced us to David Brookover - a very nice fellow with some spectacular work. We then did dinner at Pica's and called it a night. Tomorrow we were to drive back to Salt Lake City and fly back home (almost).
Posted By: James Morrissey

Re: Yellowstone Web Log - July 25th - 07/30/05 03:31 PM

We looked at some investment properties in the Jackson area. I am anxious about purchasing anything do to current property costs. However, I am not sure about the great fall of prices that most experts are talking about. I MAY decide to purchase 25 acres in nearby Victor (as I said earlier, a beautiful town on the wrong side of the pass). It may some day be a nice place to retire to.

We stopped in on another friend who owns a B&B in Jackson (Tom and Nancy of The Grand Victorian Lodge) and then drove out to SLC. We went back South Via 89 again, HOWEVER, we made some changes to the route that shortened it significantly.

At Montpellior (sp), we veered off of 89 for a short while - that allowed us to cut about 2 hours off of our trip while still providing a very scenic view. We cut across 80 West into Salt Lake City.

We called it a night and went to the airport at 6 AM on the Providence to pick up the cats and then to Manhattan thereafter.

Posted By: James Morrissey

Re: Yellowstone Web Log - July 25th - 07/31/05 03:03 AM

I figured that this might be a good time to put up some pictures that I like from the weblog. I am going to try to put the whole thing together with a full collection of shots for a front page article.


These shots were all from Sunset in Mammoth to early morning going towards the East Enterance.
Posted By: James Morrissey

Re: Yellowstone Web Log - July 25th - 07/31/05 03:15 AM

This is one of the hot spots for looking for Wolves in the Yellowstone area. This group is the Slough Creek Wolf Pack (well, this is just a photograph of some trees and reflections...but I am referring to the group of wolves who inhabit this area) pushed out the Druid pack that used to inhabit the Lamaar Valley. They are now called Agate.

This baby moose and his momma were being hounded by folks...I really thought that someone was going to get hurt. Fortunately, no one was injured.
Posted By: James Morrissey

Re: Yellowstone Web Log - July 25th - 08/01/05 12:24 PM

The next shot is of a moose cow from the Moose-Wilson Road that Sheebs and I were talking about earlier.

This is a shot of the Tetons from Idaho. I know the sky is a bit hazy, but it is such an interesting perspective of the mountain range to me - particularly because we never see it this way in any of the photographs.
Posted By: James Morrissey

Re: Yellowstone Web Log - July 25th - 08/02/05 05:24 AM

I figured I would post some new elk shots!

This first shot was taken half in jest. I have been getting the impression that the only thing that matters to people are the elk's antlers.

The following two shots were taken in the Canyon area.

Posted By: Johnnycb

Re: Yellowstone Web Log - July 23rd - 08/03/05 02:45 AM

I saw the bull moose along the Gros Ventre River.
Posted By: Tony Bynum

Re: Yellowstone Web Log - July 23rd - 08/03/05 09:17 PM

James, you must plan a trip to Glacier Park to see bighorns, goats, grizzlies, and a road that will make the Teton pass road look like a wheelchair ramp!
Posted By: James Morrissey

Re: Yellowstone Web Log - July 23rd - 08/05/05 05:18 AM

Hey Tony,

I can honestly say that if I never saw the Teton Pass again, it would be too soon. :) That is one scary pass. However, you are right though. I definitely want to get to Glacier at some point. Your posts have been taunting me. :)

How far is Glacier from Jackson? How long would it take to drive there?


PS I am still working on beefing up my journal log. We are putting it up on the front page with Eric's interview, which we just got the green light on.
Posted By: James Morrissey

Re: Yellowstone Web Log - July 23rd - 08/07/05 04:28 PM

Hey Everyone,

Just wanted to let you know that my completely unabridged weblog is almost ready. We wanted to focus on getting Eric's interview up. However, the trip to Yellowstone was spectacular and we want to share it with everyone who are interested.

It will be going up on the front page within a day or two.

Posted By: Sheebs

Re: Yellowstone Web Log - July 23rd - 08/08/05 04:23 AM

Thanks for sharing the pictures James! I have been meaning to stop in here and see if there was anything new.. I guess I've been more busy than I thought! :)

We finally broke down and planned a trip to Yellowstone over Labor Day weekend. Not sure I want to travel with the rest of the world on a holiday weekend, but it's one of the few 4 day weekends we get.. so we better take advantage!! I'm pretty excited, especially after seeing your pictures!!

I will have to check where Victor is. I think my husband and the guys from his family traveled there once to golf when we were vacationing in Jackson Hole. Is it near Driggs maybe? We usually go to Yellowstone the back way and see the back side of the Tetons. It's an unusual perspective, isn't it? :) I have heard that pass is creepy, but I've never been on it, not sure I want to! I'll go around. LOL

Posted By: James Morrissey

Updated Weblog on the Front Page!! - 08/11/05 04:43 AM

Hey Everyone,

My wife and I finally were able to put up the complete and unabridged weblog on the front page. I hope that you enjoy it.

Posted By: Loopman

Re: Updated Weblog on the Front Page!! - 08/12/05 12:49 AM

I am enjoying your photo updates. Your weblog is very complete and I like the way you list the travel route back and forth from Salt Lake City.

Posted By: James Morrissey

Re: Updated Weblog on the Front Page!! - 08/21/05 06:01 PM

I just figured I would use this as an opportunity to add some geyser basin shots (and test the image linking section :)).



Posted By: James Morrissey

Re: Updated Weblog on the Front Page!! - 08/21/05 06:07 PM

...sigh...Chanthee is working on this. It should hopefully be fixed soon. For whatever reason, she seems most able to embed images into the posts.

One step at a time though!

Posted By: Jackie

Re: Updated Weblog on the Front Page!! - 08/22/05 04:12 AM


When making a post and you want to embed an image, you have to select 'using UBBCode' under the 'Make post' title. Once this is selected you should be able to post an image by clicking on the 'Image' link under the 'Instant UBB Code' section and entering the url to the image.

Hope this is helpful.

James' geyser:

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