Tag Archives: Skywatch Friday

Skywatch Friday – Hiking the Grand Tetons National Park to Taggert and Bradley Lakes

I am doing the hiking posts backwards of our trip to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks earlier in October. Our first hike was actually to Taggert and Bradley Lakes of the Grand Tetons National Park. We have been looking forward to this trip for a long time and with our son away in college and doing well we had our opportunity so off we flew to Jackson, Wyoming.

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My bride Heather

Our first morning, right after breakfast, we packed our stuff up and went to see the National Park office just inside Jackson. I had a list of places we wanted to see and the person we talked to knew all about them and gave us all sorts of information that came in handy. My first pro-tip and Heather and I have done this a log is always stop at the Ranger Station, Visitor Center, or whatever and talk to a ranger. They have always been very helpful.

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Pro tip number two is don’t act like a know it all. My sister actually took me on a hike to Taggert Lake last year but I didn’t say anything because I have found that doing that tends to shut the person up you are talking to and when I didn’t want to happen. It’s hard to learn anything while your mouth is moving. Yes sure, did I hear some repetitive stuff, yes I did (mainly because my sister had done a lot of research.)

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I asked the Ranger if bear spray was recommended, and as expected I heard an emphatic yes. We talked about renting it and she gave us directions to a place within walking distance of where we were. So after talking with her, we packed up the maps and other info she gave us, walked over and got our bear spray and headed off to the trailhead.

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And off we went. Lots less people than what I remember and we were pretty excited. Our heads were on a swivel though looking and listening for bears.

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And what a great hike it was. Through quaking aspen groves turning golden and along Taggert Creek. Creeks up in the mountains make music as they flow and they have their own great aroma. And above it all were the majestic Tetons. I have never tired of looking at them.

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We eventually got to Taggert Lake and like last year I was just floored with how crystal clear, calm, and beautiful it is

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The Ranger had suggested that if we felt like it (we are obviously low altitude flatlanders I guess) to go over the ridge to Bradley Lake. So off we went. And getting over the ridge was exhausting. They say the Tetons are still growing. While I think the ridge was growing about fifty feet a minute as we went up. We eventually got up and over and went down to the lake. Another beautiful lake, oh hum. How many beautiful lakes can a National Park have?

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Spectacular views of the mountains.

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And then we hiked out. We were on the shady side of the slope so it was still snowy from earlier in the week.

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Every once in a while on the way out I would stop and take a photo of the mountains behind us.

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It always seems that the hike back to the trailhead seems a lot further than the hike in. We were tired and a little thirsty and hungry. We packed in a water and snacks. That is pro tip three. Always take water and snacks with you, especially if you are low altitude flatlanders like us.

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We passed some Park Service stables and corrals. We were interested in horseback riding opportunities but they are none this late in the season.

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The first day was the best weather day of our trip. It got steadily colder as the week went on but hey we knew that we would run into that but we still had some great adventures and I haven’t told them all to you yet.

Five and a half miles and three hours and one great day.

Have you ever visited the Grand Tetons National Park?

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Skywatch Friday – Hiking along String and Leigh Lakes in Grand Teton National Park

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On our final day last week of our Jackson Hole trip we had a relatively early checkout time from our condo and a pretty late in the day flight back to Tulsa.

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So we got up, cleaned out and checked from where we were staying, got breakfast, grabbed our bear spray and headed up north of Jenny Lake for a final hike along String and Leigh Lakes. A hike that a Ranger we had talked to was easy. It was pretty darn cold, and the trail was snowy but off we went.

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It was cold and we were by ourselves but gradually we started seeing more people. Never enough to make it feel crowded. I had read in an online trailguide where somebody had come across a grizzly bear lolling around in the lake near the trailhead.

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So we had an invigorating hike, on alert and cold but gradually we relaxed.

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It helped that the scenery was stunning. Yeah we were away from the big Teton mountains but these were no slouches and the water was crystal clear and blue.

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My glamorous wife, Heather

We allotted enough time to go about 2 miles up the trail and return. You can tell that Heather is pretty happy above.

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We discussed for a minute or two whether that was people across the lake or bears.

Last year I spent a few days with my sister, who was working as a seasonal Ranger at Yellowstone Park at West Yellowstone. She took me on a few hikes in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and it really opened up my eyes to just how beautiful and wild the parks are when you get out of your car and venture down a trail a few miles. So this year Heather and I followed down a couple of the trails Ellen took me on last year and found one ourself. We’ll be back!!

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What a great treasure our National Parks are. October is a great time to visit, if you can. Dress warm is what I say!!

The other thing I say is rent the bear spray, instead of buying it. We rented them for $7 a day, max $28 and then we just took them back when we were done. If you fly in, you can’t fly back out with it and I was worried about how to dispose of it properly if you buy it and you are flying back.

So I am not going to do trip in chronological order. I will do them as I feel led. I am not an organized blogger who has his act together, but I think that you have already figured that out.

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Skywatch Friday – Teton Sunset

Jackson Hole Trip 2019

We are in Jackson, Wyoming this week enjoying a late autumn vacation in the shadow of the Teton Mountains. We were treated to quite the evening show. No filters used, no tricks, just God’s glory and nature putting on a spectacle. I’ll have more photos in future posts. Blogging with an iPad is possible but painful.

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Skywatch Friday – Talking Leaves Tree

Talking Leaves Tree

I visited the Gilcrease Museum here in Tulsa earlier this week. They have a lot of nice exhibits going on but what really struck my eye was a great big cottonwood tree right outside a giant window that was shimmering in the wind so I made a brief video of it and posted it on social media.

#cottonwood #trees # Flandreau #southdakota #geocaching
Cottonwood in South Dakota

A cousin from South Dakota told me that she thought the Lakota Tribe called the cottonwood, the Tree of Talking Leaves. I have googled a lot and have not been able to confirm that that is true but have found a lot of references that the tribe holds the tree sacred and represents a magical time of hope, healing, and transformation.

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Cottonwoods in Tulsa

I have always liked cottonwood trees but never much thought about them until my cousin’s remark and then I thought, you know I have lived all over the west, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico and they all have cottonwood trees. I think they may be a symbol of the west, where the west includes the midwest. I just love seeing and hearing their leaves when the wind is blowing.

Late in life, the Cottonwood is now the Talking Leaves Tree to me as well.

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Skywatch Friday – Little Dixie Skies

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This past weekend my wife and I ventured down to southeast Oklahoma to celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary. Southeast Oklahoma is quite mountainous and woodsy, think Arkansas. In Oklahoma it is called “Little Dixie” because it is so different in a lot of ways from the rest of Oklahoma which is mainly western in nature. Think Arkansas

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Our first day we went hiking, just a nice short 3.3 mile route and it kicked our rear ends. Part of the issue was it was almost 100F and had a lot of vertical, about 800 feet overall. But you know, we would walk for a while and rest for a while and pretty soon it was over. And we were tired at the end of the day.

After the first 200 yards, we did not see anybody. I guess most people were smarter than we were.

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We stopped at this tree for a break. I’ve read a lot about “Native American Guide Trees” online where people claim that Native Americans shaped trees like this as guides to routes and water and other things. I am very skeptical as I see very little original information plus it seems like a very labor intensive way to transmit information. But my my mind is still open to the possibility.

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So yep, the hike was a little hard for us but we were happy to be doing it.

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Heather is always ready for anything.

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I loved the look of the light filtering through the leaves.

She had some fun with me. I love geocaching, she not so much but she is good at it. We were looking for one and she found it when I could not and she taunted me a little bit. That’s all right!! I guess I’ll keep her. After 30 years we have learned a lot about each other.

Later on in the week, she had to bail me out twice during a rough spot I had during a kayaking expedition we were on. I kept running into rocks and turning over so she came up and rode my kayak down through the rapids while I walked down on the bank. I wish I had photos but I ruined my camera when it took one too many dunks. She’s bailed me out a bunch of times during our 30 years we’ve been together.

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Skywatch Friday – Beach Sky

Orange Beach Skywatch 1-Edit

This is from one of our trips to Orange Beach, Alabama when we had a windy day. It makes for a nice photo. Right now though I am thinking about Hurricane Dorian and the people who suffered from the destructive force it unleashed on the Bahamas.

(Current as of 9/3, check https://www.nhc.noaa.gov for updates)

As I write this, the storm is expected to travel, excruciatingly slowly up the coast of the US and who knows what it will do. I sat through a category I hurricane back in the 1980s. It was Alicia and I lived one hundred miles from the coast so its force was much attenuated by the time it go to me but it was scary enough. Next time I vowed to go to Nebraska. (Since then though I have decided that Oklahoma is far enough.) I have no idea what it would feel like to be on an island just a few feet above the ocean and no safe shelter from the storms.

There is no way to point at any one particular storm and say that it is caused by global warming. I am convinced though that we are experiencing human caused climate change and increased hurricanes are just one of the many results of this. I found a web site, SkepticalScience.com that provides a lot of information presented in such a way that even I can understand it. It also has a guide on common myths and misconceptions presented by climate change skeptics. Check it out, bookmark it and keep it handy. The first step to solving a problem is admitting that you have a problem.

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Small Town Skywatch – Sapulpa, Oklahoma

Sapulpa Building 5

Last weekend I was in the Tulsa suburb of Sapulpa. I had never spent much time in the downtown area before and I was surprised to see many attractive older buildings that were well maintained and seemed to have many businesses in them along with apartments on the upper floors. The main street is also part of Route 66 as it winds its way through town.

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Creek County Courthouse

And all under some intense deep blue skies and big fluffy white clouds.

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Renovated Apartment Building

So I enjoyed my walk up and down downtown Sapulpa. I am convinced that towns, big and small, need a vital and thriving downtown for the city as a whole to be successful.

I have some more photos I will share later.

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Skywatch Friday – Thunderhead

We took our son to college earlier this week and on the way back we found this big huge cloud squatting over Tulsa. As big and scary as it was, there was only a little lightning and thunder and it moved on.

Just a couple hours earlier, our son was beaming just before we left him. We took him to a college that has a program for young people like him on the Autism Spectrum who want to get a degree. So we moved him in and we and he got oriented on what is going on and then it came time for goodbyes and he was ready. We were to, kind of, we noticed that we didn’t pack tissues in the car for the trip back home. He has almost 50 hours of college hours with a solid B average from a community college here in Tulsa so we know he can do the academics. He just needs help navigating things socially and we think he can get where he is enrolled.

I am thankful that there are more and more programs to help youngsters with various issues get an education and learn how to live independently.

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Skywatch Friday – Morning Sky

Morning Clouds Topaz Impressions

Some beach trips I get early every morning and go running or walking on the beach. This trip I mainly slept in and got up in time for the first dolphin run of the day. It was pretty amazing watching them cruising along parallel to the beach anywhere from maybe 50 yards to the show to maybe 300 yards. Just cruising along in a widely dispersed pod, some of them had a smaller dolphin with them. They come and they go on down the shore. A few hours later they come back the opposite direction and generally a lot further out. So we got to see them twice a day generally.

But being a dedicated skywatcher I got up one morning and got a good shot from the balcony. Most days were cloudless, but this one day they formed and went marching along the shore. I love the morning light on the cloud above.

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We had a really good time. We ate well, we went kayaking and stand up paddleboarding, lots of walks on the beach, read a lot of books, played some board games and didn’t turn the television on once!! So we are back at work now and son is getting ready to go away to college and we are very excited about that.

I hope things are going well for you.

Skywatch Friday