Monsoonal moisture continues to bring cool, wet weather to the valley. With this trend, the valley is still green and the wildflowers are still popping, which is rare in August when the weather is typically hot and dry and the landscape is crunchy. It’s the summer to take a raincoat on all adventures.
By the end of August, one can sense the change of seasons with short days and cool nights becoming more evident. August is the season of ripening berries which provide nutrition for many species. Young robins love the chokecherries near my deck. It’s fun to identify the bushes and enjoy tasty huckleberries, serviceberries, thimbleberries and raspberries as you walk through different habitats. As a naturalist, I enjoy using the senses to educate — to smell, touch and taste nature while on the trail. But be sure to properly identify berries before you bite into them. Not all are sweet or good to eat.
Bears are very active in the fall as they build fat reserves to prepare for hibernation. They become more visible along the roads and trails while seeking out berries and devouring their finds. They enjoy the serviceberry and black hawthorn growing along the Moose-Wilson Road. Bears are omnivores, eating both plants and animals, and move through the ecosystem to find available food sources. Remember to make noise, carry bear spray, and maintain the recommended distance of 100 yards for safety and respect.
Fall is officially just a few of weeks away. Notice the subtle changes each day as the leaves begin to change color and drift from the trees amidst the autumn breezes. Soon the calls of bugling elk will announce that it is mating season for many.
Learn more: Look out for bears this berry season
Costs have risen in all markets including the cost to manage our public lands. It is not uncommon to pay a “user fee” to camp. Local forests and Grand Teton National Park are considering rate increases and charging for access on public land. These funds manage camping and recreational impacts. Oil and gas companies will also pay more to drill on public lands. Population growth and the popularity of outdoor pursuits are fueling the need for increased management efforts to preserve and protect our wild lands.
“Autumn leaves shower like gold, like rainbows, as the winds of change begin to blow.”
— Dan Millman
- Take a rain coat and be prepared for possible showers. Weather systems can build quickly over the mountains.
- It’s almost hunting season so it is a good habit to wear orange when on the trail.
- Make noise while on the trail so you don’t surprise a bear or any other animal. Bull Elk and Moose can be quite feisty during mating season.
- Fall is mating season for many animals so please give them space. Enjoy the elk bugle.
- In the fall, bears enter a hyper-active state, hyperphagia, as they build fat for winter hibernation. Remember to make noise, carry bear spray, and maintain the recommended distance of 100 yards for safety and respect.
- Fall begins on September 23 with the autumnal equinox as the sun crosses the celestial equator heading south.
With the start of September, weather will begin to change and limit access to the high country. Now is the time to do long hikes or summit a peak. You can’t beat a full day connecting some of the canyons in Grand Teton Park. Summits are more challenging, but many are hikable with proper research. For a great experience, you must be prepared and in the right physical condition. Sleeping Indian and Table Mountain are a few favorite day excursions, and you can’t beat the views from either one. Have fun and enjoy the change to fall.