August is usually a hot and dry month in Jackson Hole. However, this year has been cool and damp with frequent showers and temperatures below normal. These conditions made mushroom hunting ideal. Chanterelles and Puffball mushrooms were found and enjoyed. The third week covered the Tetons with fresh snow.
August is also berry month and the cool, wet days are ideal for berry production. Serviceberry is a great tasty treat and enjoyed by birds, bears, moose, hikers and even domestic dogs. Huckleberries continue to flourish. Bushes are heavy with fruit.
I can imagine native tribes thriving on the bounty of the season. They would gather Yampah with its’ edible root. Hunt the animals and roast roots for winter storage. Pemmican would be made by mixing the meat with local berries. Early snow would spur the movement out of the valley to warmer climates. Getting trapped in a valley surrounded by mountains would greatly reduce winter survival so an early fall would motivate tribes to leave.
By mid-August days are noticeably shorter. Jackson has latitude of 43.47 degrees north. Shorter days and a wet month have all species preparing for winter. Some of the first signs are geese flying in formation, thirty degree mornings and the hint of fall color on the hillsides. Osprey, the fish hawk, are less frequently seen as they leave nesting sites and start to fly south. Chipmunks risk becoming a meal as they forage for winter.
Jackson Hole quiets by the third week of the month as children go back to school. I visit part of my family in northern Michigan to relax and rejuvenate. We visited Sleeping Bear Dunes which is a national lakeshore. You can walk and explore the dunes which rise 400 feet above Lake Michigan and are perched on glacial moraines.
Town of Jackson starts to transition to the slower pace of fall. Nights become cool and snow dots the high peaks. It feels like an early winter. Time will tell.
What’s in the woods
8/3- Jackson Lake- osprey, ripe huckleberries, leach
8/5- Mt. Oliver- rainy, overcast- osha, paintbrush, lupine, white- crowned sparrow
8/6- mature bald eagle on Highway 22
8/10- Old Pass Road- ripe huckleberries
8/14- Cache Creek- ripe serviceberry, thimbleberry, baneberry, sunflowers, asters, fleabane
8/17- Snake River- bald eagles, osprey, mallards
8/18-Wilson- mature cow moose in Fish Creek
8/22- rainy and cold
8/24- sunny and cool- glory to ski lake- still nice flowers at 10,000 feet, immature eagle, ripe mountain ash,
8/25- Munger Mountain- a bit rainy, buck deer, ripe serviceberry and mountain snowberry
A great place to explore is the LSR preserve in Grand Teton Park. It is named after Laurance S. Rockefeller who was John Rockefeller, Junior’s son. Laurance gave the family ranch back to the park in 2001 and it opened for public enjoyment in 2008. It is located four miles south of Moose, WY on the Moose-Wilson Road. Death Canyon towers above this protected land and Phelps Lake is easily reached. Hiking options are endless and with snow in the high country it’s a great choice. It will close for the season on September 21, 2014. In late summer, bears are more common in this area with numerous tasty berries. Be careful and make lots of noise.