“Grand Tetons & Snake River at Sunrise”

Grand Tetons & Snake River at Sunrise, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming (c) Mike Utley

In August 1996, I took a trip up north to see my buddy Jeff in Montana. During that trip, I visited several national parks and monuments in Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota, including Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, and Devils Tower National Monument. On my way home, I spent two nights at Schwabacher Landing in Grand Teton National Park sleeping upright behind the steering wheel of my little truck in bear country (no tents allowed) and woke up both mornings to this very sight. Shortly after making this image, a bald eagle flew lazily across the sky, then three moose decided to stand right smack in the middle of the river for about an hour, watching me. Later that day at another Grand Teton location I saw a black bear. It was incredible. Sometimes nature can be wonderfully generous. (Canon gear, Fuji Velvia ISO 50)

38 thoughts on ““Grand Tetons & Snake River at Sunrise”

  1. The last time I was there, it almost didn’t feel real. The Grand Tetons are just something that you can’t quite appreciate from a photo. To be there in person makes all the difference. I’ve always thought, wouldn’t it be grand to live in such a place. Gorgeous photo…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Michelle. Those two days I spent there went by much too quickly and I barely even scratched the surface of the place. These are by far the most majestic mountains I’ve laid eyes on in person, and I can think of only a few other ranges that I find more magical but have yet to see (Torres del Paine National Park in Chile is my favorite mountain range–it’s like a fairytale landscape and is on my bucket-list of Dream Places to Visit). Thanks for your kind words. Much appreciated. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh that’s on my bucket list too! Lol… I want to go back to the Tetons someday too. Two days was about all the time I had there as well. Fortunately, your time there, will be with you in memory for the rest of your life and you’ll have that picture to remind you if the memory ever starts to fade. 😃

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Kirsten. The water wasn’t too deep at this point. I have a shot of the three moose standing in the river near where I made this image and the river only came up to their knees. I didn’t get a shot of the eagle or the bear, both of whom were in motion. I used a decently fast shutter speed for this shot so the water was only slightly blurred, which resulted in that odd “icy” appearance. It was a surreal experience to visit this place and I’d love to return and spend a LOT more time. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Robert. It was quite a road trip, something I haven’t really done often, and I was able to experience some fascinating places (I’d been in awe of Devils Tower since Close Encounters of the Third Kind). I was fortunate to have the opportunity–just wish I’d had more time to spend at all those places. I didn’t have a videocam so I wasn’t able to record my adventures, such as when I tripped and fell while hiking around Devils Tower and tumbled down a steep hillside toward a drop-off, and then weathered an electrical storm to photograph lightning strikes at the tower after dark (in retrospect, a really foolish thing to do but hey, I was young and stupid). I really had a fun time and returned home exhausted but with some nice images and memories. 🙂

      Like

    1. Thanks, Xenia. It’s experiences like these that really demonstrate why I value our natural world so much. If only everyone could understand how important it is to protect our planet, we’d be in a much better place as a civilization. For me, I’d much rather spend time in nature than around people. I feel more at home. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Mark. These peaks are indescribably gorgeous and seem to rise up out of plains all at once, unexpectedly. They’re rather new, geologically speaking (less than 10 million years old) so they retain their rugged aspect, almost like a serrated knife blade. To know that Ansel Adams spent time in this same spot where this image was made is just unreal to me. Such history resides in this locale. If you’ve never visited this place, I hope you get the chance. It’s mind-blowing. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. This is such an apt analogy–it really is a symphony of nature. I felt like I was in a fantasy story the entire time I was in this place (and the other locales mentioned). I live in an area with mountain ranges in all directions and visible in four different states (Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona), but the Tetons are on an entirely different level of majesty. This is a truly inspiring place. Thanks as always for your kind words. Much appreciated. 🙂

      Like

    1. Thanks, Lamittan. I’d seen many photos of the Tetons, but to be there in person was almost surreal. Just magnificent views everywhere I looked, and although I was exhausted from lack of sleep (those two nights behind the wheel of my little truck yielded very little rest), I was able to make some worthwhile images and memories. Two days isn’t near enough time to explore such a place. Would that I could return someday. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! The view is so beautiful. I wouldn’t say sleeping behind the wheel is comfortable, far from it. But just looking at this picture must make you feel so proud and lucky to have been there to experience such splendor. Nature is magnificent in every way. The grandness makes one feel so small and insignificant. Great work, Mike. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Terveen. I know part of the reason I got so little sleep was my fascination with watching the moon travel its circuit through the night sky and how its lighting changed on those peaks. It was a brilliant silvery glow and it was so distracting, but in a beautiful way. If you’ve ever spent the night outdoors (camping, lying on the grass watching the stars/moon/meteor showers, etc.) you’ll know what I mean. You want to take in every little detail of all that you see and your mind won’t let you doze off easily. The senses seem to be particularly sharp outdoors at night (perhaps it’s hard-wired survival instinct, or maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part) and I was entranced by those mountains during those two sleepless nights. I don’t regret it at all. I had a really difficult time staying awake driving back home, however, and that was scary, but I made it back in one piece. It was time well spent in the Tetons. I have a few more images from that trip which I’ll be posting in the near future. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Ray. Yep, the moose were an unexpected gift that morning, and I definitely gave them plenty of room. Moose can be dangerous, although these three just hung out in the river. It was actually quite humorous. I have no idea what they were thinking, probably something along the lines of, “Hey, look, another tourist with a camera. Strike a pose, boys!” 😀

      Like

      1. LOL, great way of putting it ; )

        I’m reminded of the time I hiked through a nature preserve near the Bay of Fundy which has one of the world’s largest tides. The tide was low so I was able to walk over to what’s normally an island, which was a very cool experience in itself, but what a bit chilling afterwards is when I walked back I saw new moose hoof prints right next to my prints that were following me without me knowing it. Wild.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks, Ray. I did a search for the Bay of Fundy. What a stunning location! Sounds like you had a close encounter of the moose kind! That area is gorgeous and looks like a place I’d like to visit sometime. Rugged coastlines fascinate me, hence my love of the Pacific Northwest. Glad to know you didn’t have an awkward face-to-face with that moose! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a gorgeous photo, Mike. Sometimes Mother Nature is generous indeed. I’m so glad you got that experience and felt the sacredness of the gift.
    The first time I saw the Grand Tetons, I burst into tears. I had this amazing sense of returning home after lifetimes away. It was deeply spiritual and strange. I hope to get there one more time and wonder if I’ll have the same intense connection to those mountains.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Diana, for your kind words. I had a unique reaction to seeing the Grand Tetons for the first time as well. It was more than just a sense of awe…it’s still hard to describe. It was like seeing something otherworldly, a fantasy land come to life, almost as if these peaks were living and breathing. Everywhere I went seemed magical and almost surreal. I felt as though I belonged, too, much the same way I felt the first time I ever saw the ocean near Cools Bay, OR. Exactly as you put it, it was a sense of “coming home.” I truly hope I can revisit this place (and Oregon, too) before all is said and done. Two days isn’t long enough to spend in paradise. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your kindness, Aaysid. I must agree–it is a dream-like place. The two days I spent there basically consisted of me walking around with my jaw hanging open in astonishment at what I was seeing, whether it was the mountain peaks or the wildlife or the forests or the lakes and rivers. The term “fairytale” always comes to mind when I think of this place. It’s gorgeous beyond words. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jane. I didn’t get to go camping much growing up, but did a few times in my 20s. It’s such a paradigm shift when all you have surrounding you are trees, mountains, wild flowers, silence, fresh air and a perfectly clear sky. I grew up on a farm so I was accustomed to this anyway, but it’s different out in the mountain woods or in a desert, far from civilization. My two days at the Tetons were like that. So utterly peaceful and still and quiet, so contemplative, and so filled with enlightening moments that only nature can provide. I hope you’re still able to go camping and hiking, and I applaud you for your courage when it comes to wild animals! 🙂 Thanks as always for your kindness. Much appreciated. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s