This report is provided by Cathy Shill, owner of The Hole Hiking Experience.
May has been the perfect spring month. We’ve had sunny days but also rain. Full days of rain with cloud cover shrouding the peaks and mist hanging on the mountains. Today is one of those days. The green of the chokecherry bush as it sways out of my window against the grey sky. It’s quite a contrast. Temperatures in the fifties depict spring in the Tetons.
It’s been a big bear month. The grizzlies are often seen near Willow Flats, the Oxbow Bend, or near Jackson Lake Lodge. All these areas are north in Grand Teton Park. Bear 610 (one of the famous cubs of 399) released her cubs on May 10. She shooed them away to start their independent lives and went to mate with a big male. The mating pair were seen near Willow Flats around Mother’s Day. Mom so great to have you here!
I shared the park with some visitors from Hong Kong and one of the cubs sauntered along the Jackson Lake Dam. It is always great when tours flow and you get a fun surprise from Mother Nature. It makes me chuckle when they assume I am responsible for the sighting.
Later in May, bear 399 emerged with three new cubs! She is 17 and this is a third set of triplets. For the best chance of survival, they will den two more winters together. It will be fun to watch these cubs grow and discover their new world.
It is exciting to see them in such public places but be careful. They are grizzlies. Allow lots of distance-100 yards is recommended by the park. They might appear docile and not disturbed by people. Bear 399 did bite an early morning jogger a few years ago when he got too close to the food source. Don’t underestimate a grizzly.
The month did have a grey cloud when the Oliver family decided to close the upper portion of High School Butte to public access. It is right outside of town and a favorite hiking spot. It climbs above town and overlooks the middle school. Due to short cuts, advanced erosion and new fire pits, the family has decided to block access. It’s always sad when a compromise can’t be reached.
May turns the valley green. Leaves develop on Aspens and then Cottonwoods. It’s the month to watch the line of green as it travels north in the valley and up the mountains. The green is bright and effervescent at this time of year. Arrowleaf Balsamroot is covering the hillsides with its large showy yellow blossoms.
Snow continues to cover the high country but lower trails are open. Warm temperatures will alter the landscape as green overtakes white. The hum in the valley switches to summer as visitors flock to the Tetons.
What’s in the Woods-
5/4- Game Creek- cool and rainy
5/6- Cache Creek- yellowbell lily
5/7-High School Butte- shooting star, phlox, bluebells, raven, magpie
5/10- leaves begin to mature south of town in Game Creek
5/11- warm and sunny- 65 degrees
5/12- snake river- 30 pelicans
5/12- Grand Teton Park- grizzly cub, cow elk, bison, mountain bluebird
5/15-Josie’s Ridge- blooming violets, pasque flower, bluebells, phlox, shooting star
5/23- town- bald eagle and osprey fighting over fish
5/26- cream puff peak- arrowleaf balsamroot covering the hillsides, steershead!
5/27- snake river bridge- cow moose near pond, osprey
5/28- old pass road- serviceberry, larkspur, woodlandstar, balsamroot
5/30- Grand Teton Park- elk migrating, grizzly cub near the dam, American white pelicans, goldeneye, osprey
Munger Mountain is a great area to explore and beautiful in early spring. You might even see the Great Grey Owls. To access the trailhead, drive south of Wilson down Fall Creek Road. Go past Butler Creek, over the cattle guard and you will see the parking area on your right and there is a sign with a map of the area. Cross the road to start the trail. I often go up Wally’s World and down Poison Creek. It’s a nice loop with great views, few people, and maybe an owl. Have fun, carry bear spray, and enjoy the spring flowers.