Local — Three Feet Deep
January’s short, dark days were met with all types of weather this year. Snowfall in town was below average, with only six inches reported until the end of the month when a large weather event dumped over three feet of snow in the Tetons. January storms are typically cold, delivering lots of dry, soft powder snow. This storm lived up to that norm. The cycle lasted three days followed by bluebird sunshine exposing a stunning wintry white landscape. The shroud of Old Man Winter has descended, wrapping our valley in his winter blanket until the warmth of spring.
While we love playing in deep snow, it is hard on wildlife. With thin valley snowpack, animals are able to move liberally throughout their territories in search of food sources. As snowpack deepens, larger animals will “yard up” and stay in a smaller territory to minimize calorie loss. Be sure to allow any wildlife that you observe plenty of room to rest and reserve energy.
Regional — Oil & Natural Gas
As 2021 dawned, the native Ogala Sioux opposed new oil and natural gas wells on their tribal land near Casper, Wyoming. The Trump administration had approved construction of up to 5000 new wells and miles of pipeline in the Powder River Basin. The project may have created jobs in Wyoming along with cultural and environmental threats to the region.
The month of January ended with the Biden administration restricting drilling in Wyoming to protect the environment and combat climate change. It will be interesting to follow this topic in our state to see if they can achieve a balance between economic growth and the support of the natural world and cultural traditions.
“The West of which I speak is but another name for the Wild; and what I have been preparing to say is, that in Wildness is the preservation of the world.”
Walking, Henry David Thoreau
What’s in the Woods (field notes)
1/9 Sunny and cold
1/10 (Gros Ventre River) Bull moose
1/10 (Wilson, WY) cow moose and calf
1/11 (Highway 89/191, near Gros Ventre Road) herd of mule deer
1/18 High School Butte) mature bald eagle
1/20 (Jackson, Maple Way) mule deer- two females and calf
1/21 temperatures begin to warm, snow in mountains
1/24 (Wilson, WY) cow and calf elk grazing in residential area
1/24 frigid start to the day, fog layer in valley
1/25 (Wilson, WY) moose silhouette in the dark night in front yard
1/27 (Jackson, WY) winter storm
1/28 (Jackson, WY) winter storm
1/29 (Jackson, WY) winter storm
When the valley is stormy, I choose tour locations close to where I live. It can be dangerous to drive into the mountains when storms are raging. New snow increases avalanche danger and risk as well. It was a busy month for Teton County Search and Rescue. Remember the adage, know before you go, and make calculated decisions when traveling in the backcounty.
Two of my favorites tour locations are Game Creek, close to Jackson, and the Moose Wilson Road near Teton Village. Both offer shelter from wind and stormy weather.
Make sure to tell someone where you are touring as an extra safety precaution.