A raven is my companion as I sit beside Jackson Lake eclipsed by the magnificent Teton Range. Ripples upon the lake are the only known movement, until the honk of two Canada Geese turns my gaze upwards to catch them flying overhead. Their ruckus causes the raven to take flight. For now, it is only me and my shadow taking in the silent reflections this magical place has to share with me.
It is not often one gets the solitude of these silent reflections in Grand Teton National Park, especially in the middle of the summer.
One needs to be an early riser for this experience. This park holds a magic all to its own. I know better than to let the stillness and quiet fool me, for I know just beyond view critters of all sorts can suddenly appear.
Prior to this moment, I welcomed the sunrise with a pair of horses grazing in a field only to realize we were not alone.
First to appear was a coyote prancing ever so secretly past one of the horses. The horse, completely undisturbed by his presence, never lifted its head.
Then, at the edge of the field along the fence line, a badger on a mission caught my attention at the same time I caught his. Even though there was a good distance between us, being stared down by a badger is a tad bit unnerving!
The wild-ness is not always what it seems, but it always has the ability to take one’s breath away.
If you were here with me now, this is what the silent reflections would reveal…
A treasure trove of smooth pebbles and rocks painted in the hues of a painter’s palette embrace you. They stretch for as far as the eye can see cascading gently into the crystal-clear lake. Ripples dancing across the lake’s surface carry you off to a distant shore dressed in varied shades of green. Beyond the green rise, a regal mountain called Mount Moran rises with its broad shoulders brushing against the sky. Upon it, Skillet Glacier dating from eons ago, nestles within a deep eastern facing valley.
As your gaze pulls away from Moran’s monumental view, mountains stretch in both directions as they reach the horizon showcasing a mired of shapes and sizes. Thick solid granite rock rising majestically toward the vast expanse of the clear blue sky.
Rough and rugged.
Steadfast in their message.
To the left of Mount Moran is the infamous Grand Teton looking dwarfed by Moran’s bulk. The Grand, with its jagged neighboring peaks scattered about, looks almost fragile to the touch. Numerous glaciers cling to life within every available crevice. From the peak of the Grand you look south and the imposing pointed range gradually recedes downward till it becomes lost in the horizon.
Behind me the sun continues to rise shedding the cool morning air. Long ago trees in the form of driftwood rest like sculptures amongst the sea of rocks – still holding their own.
In the stillness an unseen fish jumps to greet this new day, and with that unexpected gesture, a silent morning gives way to the activity surely bound for this rocky shore.
The first tourists shuffle down the boat ramp to soak in the beauty of this spectacular place. A small speed boat zips past in route to the far-off Elk Island. With time suspended, minutes later the wake from the passing boat collides with the shore with a loud gushing sound.
The raven returns for a quick overhead flight. Her silent reflection making her presence known as she circles and turns taking her leave. I follow in suit grateful for my solitude and solace in such a grand park.
Grand Teton National Park Facts:
Jackson Lake is 15 miles in length, 5 miles wide and 438 feet deep sitting at an elevation of 6,772 feet above sea level. This natural lake, a remnant of large glacial gouging from the neighboring Teton Range to the west and the Yellowstone Plateau to the north, was enlarged by the construction of the Jackson Lake Dam in 1916.
Mount Moran was named for the famous landscape painter Thomas Moran who was part of the 1872 Hayden expedition into Yellowstone. He visited the west side of the Teton Range but never saw the mountain named for him. The elevation of Mount Moran is 12,610 feet.
The Grand Teton is the highest point of the Teton Range at 13,775 feet. It is the second highest peak in the state of Wyoming after Gannett Peak found in the Wind River Range. The Tetons received their name from French-Canadian trappers who accompanied early British expeditions into the territory. Viewing the range from the west, three towering mountains stood out in which they named “Trois Tetons” or three breasts!