March was stormy and brought winter to all elevations. As the month began, snow fell to the valley floor which was the first time it was truly white. The landscape changed and March felt like January. Temperatures were different but storms and wind dominated much of the month and winter storm advisories were common. The white landscape allowed access to favorite ski destinations and the feel of winter pervaded Jackson Hole.
By the end of the month, snow is deep. It’s deep in the canyons and high on the hills. Jackson Hole Mountain resort reports a ten-foot base at 9500 feet. We have exceeded average mountain snowfall again this winter. The white landscape continues north in the valley but snow around town has melted due to spring temperatures. It’s the dance of March as Old Man Winter releases his’ grip to the warmth and freshness of Spring.
It is time for the seasonal change. The spring cycle of weather brings a broad range of temperatures so early frosty mornings allow crust cruising on skis or the possible powder run while afternoon temperatures lure you to your bike or your fishing rod.
The most apparent signs of spring in Jackson Hole are the birds. Eagles sit on eggs. Ravens and Magpies build and work on nests. Flocks of birds return to the valley: Robins, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Bluebirds, Starlings, Waxwings, Geese and much more. Each day brings change but you do have to look closely. The vibrant colors of Tulips and Daffodils and the spring green of new growth might be over a month away.
Lots of wildlife sightings this month. In March, we await the first sign of the majestic bear. Grizzlies tracks were seen in Yellowstone on March 6. Males emerge earliest in the spring while females and cubs remain in the den until late March/early April. In mid-March, a mountain lion fed on an elk carcass on the National Elk Refuge and entertained viewers for about a week. Deer are on the move and can be seen on the East Gros Ventre Butte, foraging in Karns Meadow and along the river. Moose can be found near the town of Kelly and the Gros Ventre Road. Elk are on the move so be alert. Driving through the valley can be highlighted by the blue dash of the male Mountain Bluebird. Welcome spring!
As temperatures climb and snow begins to melt, a quietness descends on town as spring break begins. By the end of March, most local families leave for warmer climates making the post office, the stores, the banks quiet and vacant.
March and April are months that dance with winter and spring. Sun draws us to play while rain pulls you to the fire and a book. It’s transition. Ski resorts close, skis get stored, you dust off the bike and you prepare for whatever the mix of weather might bring. It’s a nice time and an opportunity to relax before the shift to busy summer.
Green becomes an expectant color as more snow melts. Must be patient. All in good time. I travel and I’m off to Bhutan for my fifth trip. I’m quite excited to share this remote, special part of the Himalayas, see friends, and share the wonderment with a new group of excited travelers. Details about trips can be found on the Bhutan Himalayan Experience web site
As I finish this edition, it is evening on April 2 and snow blows haphazardly out my windows. Wind is howling. Hope all the creatures are nestled. Fire is going.
What’s in the woods
3/6- first bear sign in Yellowstone/ grizzly ends winter hibernation
3/11- elk foraging near Snake River/ mature bald eagle on Teton Village Road
3/12- mountain lion on elk refuge feeding on elk carcass
3/14- warm winter storm
3/16- Jackson birdfeeder- dark-eyed junco, clark’s nutcracker, magpie, chickadee
3/17- red tail hawk on power pole
3/20- East Gros Ventre Butte- herd of mule deer foraging
Murie Center- cow and calf moose
3/26- Gregory Lane, Jackson- flocks of robins, starlings and waxwings (bohemian)
3/27- bluebird day
3/29- herd of mule deer in Karns Meadow
3/31-winter storm- 14 inches fresh snow
When it freezes hard at night with a sunny day ahead, go crust skiing. It is so fun to start the day with the morning light and feel the promise of warmth in the sun’s rays. You can ski anywhere when the snow is firm and supports your weight. Head into the park and go! Many mountain skiers will search for the corn run while in the valley, you crust cruise. Just pay attention because once it gets soft, you have to be done to avoid the possible slushy mess. Go early and park at the Taggert Lake trailhead or north at Signal Mountain.
The inner park road is also plowed and closed to vehicles until May 1. Take your bike, your roller-blades or just walk and enjoy the majestic Tetons before the busy summer season begins! Have fun and remember bears are emerging from dens.