June. The first three weeks of the month were wet and cold. Then, the solstice! Mother Nature began to shine with seventy degree temperatures and blue bird skies. Nature is flourishing and bursting forth with the change in weather.
It is truly impressive how all the species wait for optimal conditions. Within one week, plant blooms dot the hillsides. The diversity is amazing. On one hike, I found spring beauties, steershead, and yellow bell lilies near the melting snow and as we descended in elevation the meadows were filled with every type of flower and color. The number of blooms was indescribable. I saw arrowleaf balsamroot, mules ear, indian paintbrush, wild hyacinth, groundsel, larkspur, and even yampah. Yampah usually blooms later in the season but there it was! Mother Nature’s palette is awesome and the diversity and quantity of blooms is above average. What an amazing hiking season!
With the warmth, bugs are emerging. Butterflies are abundant and snow is melting. All rivers and streams are high and muddy. Flooding can be seen throughout the valley. Nature is rampant, wild and raging.
The mountainous country is still snow covered and it’s hard to know when trails will be passable. Daily updates are needed to know conditions. Avalanches are still a possibility so proper awareness and decisions are a must!
Due to the deep snow, animals are still quite low in elevation. Bears and wolves are often seen in Yellowstone. The sow grizzly, 399, has emerged from her winter den with three new cubs and she is often seen near Jackson Lake Lodge. One of her daughters from her past litter is also caring for her first cubs. She is near the same area.
Why, we ask? The populated areas might give protection to the females and cubs. The males will kill the cubs so the females choose proximity to people over secluded mountainous country. June is mating season for the bears so populated areas might be a good choice.
Calves can be found throughout the valley. Moose calves are learning to navigate their long legs and following mom to learn tasty food and safe havens. Pronghorn fawns might be glimpsed in the sage flats and bison calves frolic in the sage, kicking up their heels as they seem to rejoice with life. Be cautious since we all know how protective mothers can be.
Now that summer is here, the long winter becomes a memory and we can rejoice in nature’s bounty and this season of rejuvenation and growth. With the extent of protected land, many lower elevation hikes are still available for the current visitor and we have seen some amazing plant and animal life while guiding hikes.
What’s in the woods-
6/3-Munger Mountain- Indian paintbrush, nine-leaved desert parsley, larkspur, spring beauty, yellow bell lily
6/4-Teton Village- mule deer, moose, calliope hummingbird, pine siskins, gold finch, western tanager
6/6-Fall Creek- numerous osprey, bald eagle, great grey owl
6/13-Munger Mountain- cow elk bedded down- birthing?. Indian paintbrush, groundsel,
6/15-beautiful blue bird day!
6/17-serviceberry flourishes throughout the valley!
6/18-Henderson Creek- calypso orchid, arnica
6/20-Aspen Trail- western tanager, drumming grouse, valerian root, arnica, serviceberry
6/21-sunny, beautiful solstice, moose on teton village road
6/23-butterflies abound, insects are emerging
6/24- Munger Mountain- snow fleas on standing water?
6/26- Aspen trail- woodland star, clematis, service berry, choke cherry, striped coral root, arrowleaf balsam root
6/30-Grove Creek- steershead, spring beauty, mules ear, arrowleaf balsamroot, indian paintbrush, wild hyacinth, grounsel, larkspur, yampah
Hiking in the Gros Ventre Range is amazing right now. Shadow Mountain, Atherton Creek and Grizzly Lake are all hikable and beautiful.
Grizzly Lake is eight miles round trip and you gain about 2000 feet throughout the day.
Drive north out of town and take your first right at the Gros Ventre Junction. Drive past the town of Kelly, WY then turn right to continue out the Gros Ventre Road. The trailhead is near the Red Hills Campground. After you pass the Red Hills Ranch (a beautiful horse farm), you will cross the river and the trailhead will be on your right. It is really just a pull off. At the parking area, you can see the Red hills Campground across the street. This is a good hike to get the topo map, which happens to be Grizzly Lake. Grizzly Lake is a nice place to camp and to fish. Have fun!