By early April, the southern end of the valley turns green. We have many herbivores or plant eaters in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and fresh grass and plants make them happy. March and April can be quite stressful if winter lingers so the “greening up” of vegetation makes the animals happy. You can see their joy as you watch them eat, eat, and eat some more.
Birds return each day and many have paired to mate and build nests. Eagles, owls, ravens, and geese are all sitting on eggs. Bird life and their activity changes daily.
Animals migrate with the melting snow. The bike path near the Elk Refuge opened the last week of the month since most elk had left the feed ground. Grizzlies are foraging on spring plants and winter carcasses. Drive in Grand Teton Park near Jackson Lake Lodge, Signal Mountain and Oxbow Bend to see signs of spring and a possible bear sighting.
Snow melts, creeks fill and water levels rise. April shares a mix of sun, rain, and wet, spring snow. You wear shorts for one minute while the next you pull on your ski cap as the wind blows down the canyons.
I usually travel during this quiet month but a ski fall kept me close to home. I have spent the month recovering from brain surgery.
Flat Creek flows through the town of Jackson so I am able to access the bike path and immediately be in wild nature. Moose, great grey owls, elk, deer, mountain lions, wolves, and bears are near. The Great Grey Owl hooted at my back door and a cow moose came to visit.
I can feel the support of nature and the energy pulsing through my veins. I focus on my breath and body. I breathe to heal. I breathe with gratitude. I breathe patience for the healing process. I rest my brain.
I fell skiing and really didn’t think twice about it. It hurt but it would hurt. I mostly experienced whiplash and didn’t think about my brain, a ruptured vein that created a subdural hematoma or bruise in my brain.
Three weeks passed when I started to have headaches and lose my balance. By that time, I forgot I fell. I had headaches for five days and thought migraine. I reached out for help to my friend and Pilates instructor. She took me to the doctor but he couldn’t figure out what was happening. I passed all the neurological tests. My close friends knew something was wrong.
Finally, a co-worker reminded my partner that I fell skiing. At this point, I was home and the new information sent me to the ER. A cat-scan showed a bleeding hematoma the size of my fist. A life-flight to critical care, surgery, two holes in my head to relieve pressure, drain the blood and heal my brain. I am now recovering.
I was so lucky. I didn’t have any seizures. I can walk and breathe. I can be in nature and heal. I am grateful and look forward to another hiking season and beautiful summer in Jackson Hole!
What’s in the woods
4/4- crow’s nest building
4/5-moose near post office- losing hair
4/6- male catkins forming on Aspen trees
4/8-Kinfisher calling along Flat Creek
4/11- morning fog
4/14- rain/snow mix
4/15- approximately 40 cow/calf elk feeding in Wilson, WY
4/16- bald eagle over fish creek
4/18- American dippers on Flat Creek
4/22- a green hue can be seen in the Aspen Groves. Leaves are developing
Trails that have been closed for wintering wildlife open May 1 so keep your eyes out for antlers. To know where it is best to play, check with the visitor center on North Cache in the town of Jackson or the Craig Thomas Discovery Center in Moose. Options depend on the weather, muddy trails and the snow level. Paved bike paths are a good option. Lower elevation hikes such as Taggert Lake or Josie’s Ridge near the town of Jackson are good spring trails. Hard to say what it best so use your sense of adventure and swing by the visitor’s center to get a locals input. Have fun. Be prepared for changing weather and don’t forget the bear spray.