Green dominated the month of May as the landscape bloomed into the colors of summer. May days started chilly but warm afternoon temperatures had the creeks and rivers running high and spring flowers dotting the hillsides. Leaves developed on the trees and the snowline is slowly retreating up the mountains. Mid-month brought some much needed moisture and a beautiful Memorial Day weekend kicked off the summer.
It looks like a busy season ahead for our small valley. Lots of people are seeking open space and the solace of nature. The energy is building here with record visitation to our Parks and public lands. Rangers and volunteers work hard to keep wildlife, people, and the natural world safe. Let’s all do our part to preserve and protect our public lands by treading lightly and minimizing impact the best we can.
Local — Spring is Baby Season
Most wildlife give birth in the spring so their young have the summer months to get strong before the challenges of winter. Moose and bison calves are born in early May. Young deer, elk and pronghorn are quick to follow. On average, gestation periods are about 8 months. A fall mating season ensures the timing is right. Bison have about a 9-month gestation period so they mate a bit earlier in the summer.
Check out link below for wildlife whereabouts provided by the Grand Teton National Park Foundation. Remember to give all wildlife space. If you are attracting their attention, you are too close. Grand Teton National Park recommends a distance of at least 100 yards from bears and wolves and 25 yards for all other wildlife.
Regional — Warming Temps in Yellowstone
A recent study has proven that temperatures are warming in Yellowstone. This will have an impact on the entire ecosystem. Karen Heeter and her colleagues from the University of Idaho used growth rings of Engelmann Spruce, a native conifer, to determine summer temperatures in this area going back a millennium. Growth rings are darker and denser on warm years. The analysis shows summers have been heating up since 2000.
Holy Earth Mother, the trees and all nature are witnesses of your thoughts and deeds.
-Winnebago Indian prayer
I think there is a way to do things right to tread lightly on this world.
What’s in the Woods (field notes)
5/3 (Snake River) mergansers, great blue heron, bufflehead
5/5 (Josies Ridge) pasque flower, bluebells, buttercup
5/7 (Cache Creek) yellow bell lilies, Aspens starting to leaf
5/11 (Jackson) fresh snow, American Dipper feeding in Flat Creek
5/12 (Jackson) hummingbird!
5/13 (Flat Creek) magpie, bluebells, leafing Aspen, hummingbird
5/15 (Munger) Indian Paintbrush, nine-leaved desert parsley, shooting star, spring beauty, steershead, yellowbell lily
5/17 (Snake River) leafing Cottonwoods, Great Blue Heron
5/19 (Jackson) Lazuli Bunting, Chickadee, Calliope Hummingbird, Cassin’s Finch, Robin, Magpie at backyard feeders
5/22 (Willow Creek) sugarbowls, phlox, fairy bell lilies
5/23 wet and rainy weekend in Jackson Hole
5/25 (Snake River) osprey, great blue heron, red tail hawk, magpie, mature bald eagle
5/26 rainy weather continues in Jackson Hole
5/30 (Boulder, WY) arrowleaf balsamroot, holly, baneberry, mating red-naped sapsuckers and barrow’s goldeneye, flock of cedar waxwings
Snow is melting quickly and new places to explore are emerging daily. Trails in the southern end of the valley are ideal to spot spring flowers and new growth. Currently, trails under 8,500 feet are mostly accessible. Once you get a few hikes under your belt, consider Cream Puff to build your hiking legs. It’s a big hike and a great way to get in shape for the season. This hike is not for novice hikers and the trail is not easy to find. Look for the left turn along Highway 189 just after Bryon Flats and before the bridge over the Hoback River near Stinking Springs. You’ll gain about 3,000 feet to the summit. If you aren’t feeling that zealous, there are lots of great places to explore from the trailhead as you enjoy blooming flowers and great views.
Remember to tread lightly and leave no trace so we can continue to protect our trails for future generations. Bears are active so know how to use bear spray and make sure to take on your adventures. Have fun!