What a wild start to winter! According to Jim Woodmencey at mountainweather.com, “November 2022 was the coldest November on record in Jackson, Wyoming.” Wow! December was also very cold and very snowy. And the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort claims we received over 200″ of snow in the mountains before Christmas. Wow, again! And then we finished the year with valley rain (heavy sigh) but it looks like there is more snow on the way.
While we love to play and frolic in the fresh powder, it’s important to be extra careful to minimize wildlife disturbance. The deep snow and sub-zero temps are challenging for the furry natives who’s lives depend upon conserving energy in order to survive the harsh Wyoming winter.
As the New Year begins, I wish for us all to find more compassion, kindness and generosity in 2023. May we all open our hearts to others with love and the realization that all beings are part of the web of life.
Founder, The Hole Hiking Experience
Local — Exploring the Winter Landscape
The beauty and solitude of the Teton region in wintertime is magical. When the landscape is blanketed in snow and the crowds are far away, we can connect with nature on a deeper level. When traveling across the snow on snowshoes and cross-country skis, we leave minimal impact and can find endless tour options. Snow acts as a canvas, revealing all sorts of stories about wildlife behavior. There’s so much to discover about nature by observing tracks in the snow, caches of pine cones, antler rubs, bear claw marks, animal fur, bones and scat. Join one of our educated naturalists to study the abundant clues. Our tours allow guests to learn, explore and discover the winter environment and to deepen their connection with nature and all life.
Regional — Big Game Migration Maps and Policy
Updating migration policy has stalled in the state. For the past few years, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has been identifying and safeguarding migration routes for wildlife. “Many ungulate herds must migrate to thrive on the strongly seasonal landscapes of the American West. These corridor maps make it possible to plan for keeping those corridors open,” says the report’s lead author, Matt Kauffman, a research wildlife biologist with the USGS Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Migration. Policy makers are faced with choosing between expanding gas leases in the Pinedale area or protecting the Pronghorn migration corridor. Conservationists are concerned that Governor Gordon may be losing momentum for protections.
“At the Winter Solstice, the wind is cold, trees are bare, and all lies in stillness beneath blankets of snow.”
— Gary Zukav
- Number of elk on the National Elk Refuge is currently over 4,000. Last year, less than 1,000 animals were on the feed ground at the end of December.
- Have you seen any Pronghorn? The Pronghorn suffer when snow gets deep since they have not learned to move snow to find plants. They often stay in the valley but not this year. Are they sensing the stormy season ahead?
- River bottoms are preferred wildlife corridors. Make sure to be vigilant when recreating near the river and give wildlife lots of space.
- Make sure to have what you need for your next adventure: water, food, headlamp with good batteries, sunglasses, first aid kit, extra layers, matches, fire starter, cell phone, hand warmers, and a map.
- Load Backcountry SOS (https://www.backcountrysos.com/ ) on your smart phone so you have a way to seek help if something unforeseeable happens.
- Make sure someone knows where you are going and stick to your plan.
If you are looking for a quick outing near town, enjoy a walk or ski along the Snake River. Gain access near Emily’s Pond east of the bridge on Highway 22 or walk through R Park via the Moose-Wilson Road. You’ll have a chance to see swans, eagles, ducks, moose and much more. On a sunny day, head into Grand Teton Park towards Taggart and the Jenny Lake area to take in the majestic Teton views. If stormy, minimize travel and make a conservative choice. Most likely there is a beautiful hike right outside your door.