September brings cooler temperatures, the Autumnal Equinox and mating season for the larger animals. The Fall Arts Festival also comes to the town of Jackson. The entire valley breathes. We breathe the change, the quietness of town, the coolness of the air, the frost in the mornings, and the shorter days. Nature pulses with change. The month ends with bluebird skies, clear mountain views, and the dance of fall colors.
The feel of September is different than June, July or August. We end the frantic busy pace of the summer. Art buffs come to the valley to lazily peruse the galleries, take photos of fall colors, to sit by a stream and enjoy the beauty of Fall. The start of Fall means more time to play. Fall months can be stormy but when the sun shines it is crisp and clear with ideal temperatures.
Nature adjusts to the shorter days and cool nights. Hummingbirds leave taking with them the high energy of summer. Seeds linger in our bird feeders as many of our feathered friends head south. Frost covers the meadow as you see the exhale of the bull elk. His energy is focused on procreation and spreading his genes to future generations. He bugles and snorts as he gathers his harem of females. He sings high and loud to other males. This is my spot and these are my gals. Young bulls come to the edge of the meadow and their hormones make them brave. They approach the iconic old bull to challenge him or just hang on the outskirts until he is busy then try their chance at mating. This high energy dance peaks around the Autumnal Equinox but continues for about two months.
The Autumnal Equinox, equal amount of day to night. Equal light. For us, in the northern hemisphere days shorten until the Solstice in December. For those south of the equator, days are getting longer. The Autumnal Equinox, the start of Fall, was September 22.
It’s a time all species align too light and change. Since Jackson, WY is 43 degrees north, we have very short days during the fall months. Native Americans would have already left the valley for warmer climates. Animals begin to migrate to their fall/winter territories. We must prepare for the cold, blustery winds of winter and the impending snow.
Mountains are now crisp and clear. During the third week of September, town received more rain than all of July and August. September moisture was twice the average according to local meteorologist, Jim Woodmency. The rain doused the regional fires. Maybe it’s a precursor to a big winter? I had better get my fall chores finished.
Enjoy the feel of fall, the beauty of crisp mornings and soft light. Indian Summer can continue into October so come play in the Tetons but bring a book because Old Man winter is right around the corner.
What’s in the woods
9/11-bluebird day but strong winds
9/12- smoky- berry fire burned 6.o miles in 6 hours, closing southern entrance to YNP
9/18- cliff creek- mule deer, fall colors, yellow thimbleberry, maple, aspen with red huckleberry, fireweed and geranium
9/26- Oxbow Bend- otter playing with fish, fall colors, bull elk, bull moose
9/26- Shadow Mountain- Great Grey Owl
Fall is the time to fish in Jackson Hole. The river is clear and the fish are hungry as they also prepare for winter and the season of dormancy. It’s the perfect time to enjoy the river, the beauty of the golden Cottonwoods, the glimpse of the Bald Eagle, and the thrill of fly fishing. David Ellerstein with Jackson Hole Anglers provides wonderful fishing excursions (http://www.jacksonholeanglers.com/).
It’s also the perfect time to drive the Moose-Wilson Road to look for animals. This road is directly north of Teton Village and animals are abundant. You might see moose, elk, listed to the bull elk bugle, otters, bears and much more. Fall is also a great time to explore the park trails since they are less crowded. Have fun and be prepared for cool temperatures.