Current snow pack is 99% of average in the Tetons. At the start of the year, storms dumped lots of fresh snow in Jackson Hole but sun and cold temperatures have dominated the recent weather pattern. A high pressure has settled over our valley causing a temperature inversion, with the heavier cold air sinking in the valley and warm air rising into the mountains. As the cycle continues the temperature difference increases. Most of our annual moisture comes during the winter so we are ready for a change in weather — it’s time for more snow.
Regional — Bison Protection Questioned by US Judge
The mighty American Bison is synonymous with the American West and dominates our Wyoming state flag. During the winter, bison seek lower elevations where they can more easily reach grasses. They use their massive heads to push the snow around to get to the vegetation under the snow. Shallower snow depths allow them to conserve their precious energy and hopefully survive the long, cold winter. Winter migration is essential to the survival of these formidable beasts.
Yellowstone National Park is a volcanic plateau and the land surrounding it is lower in elevation, so hundreds of bison leave the park each winter in search of food, unknowingly entering unprotected land in Montana. Once in Montana, they can be hunted. Managing bison is a challenge and both government agencies and private organizations work hard to find the right balance along this boundary. Should bison be protected under the Endangered Species Act?
Learn more: Yellowstone Bison Species Decision Questioned by US Judge
Regional — Climate Change and the Future of Nordic Skiing
Cross-country skiing has became more popular as Covid pushes people toward outdoor activities. But winter seasons have become shorter and more variable due to warming temperatures and it’s harder to predict a start date for winter recreation. Researchers look at these relationships in respect to the future of Nordic skiing.
Learn more: Climate change makes the future of Nordic skiing uncertain
Tomorrow, I will continue to be. But you will have to be very attentive to see me. I will be a flower, or a leaf. I will be in these forms and I will say hello to you. If you are attentive enough, you will recognize me, and you may greet me. I will be very happy.”
Thich Nhat Hahn
October 11, 1926 — January 22, 2022
Canines mate in the winter. Wolves begin mating in January. The full moon is a great time to listen for the call of coyotes or the howl of the wolf.
Ravens form long-term pair bonds and return to the same nesting site. In January, they begin to pair and court. You may see ravens playing in the wind or maybe sitting together to preen each other.
As temperatures plummet due to the recent high pressure and temperature inversion, ground temperature stays near freezing due to insulated by the snow pack. Animals in the snow will be warmer than the ambient air temperature.
With the sunny days, go for the views. You can’t beat the options in Grand Teton National Park. If you want to get away from the crowds and the more popular trails, keep us in mind for a winter tour. You can call or book online: 307.690.4453 / www.holehike.com.
The Taggart Lake trailhead offers amazing views of the Teton peaks. As the temperature inversion continues, you may want to take a trip over Teton Pass to Teton Valley, Idaho. It will be warmer and provide amazing views of the Tetons from the west. Teton Canyon is groomed Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. For the complete grooming schedule check out https://tvtap.org/grooming/. Have fun and stay warm!
Backcountry Safety & Etiquette
- Warm tea is always great to have in your pack on these chilly days. Also, make sure to have some hand and toe warmers in your pack.
- Give wildlife lots of space. As winter continues, they become weaker so do your best not to disturb them.
- Cold snow is slow so make sure you have a glide wax on your cross-country skis.