Location: Grand Teton National Park

Snake River near Schwabacher Landing


Sunrise at Snake River Overlook
Wind causing snow drifts along the road near the Tetons
I have returned from the Tetons with more than just photos, but a stronger friendship and greater photographic experience.  I was able to go with a very close friend, who is almost as crazy about photography as I am, which made it easy to drag her along in the wee hours of the morning.  We faced freezing temperatures, whiteout weather, and equipment failures, but came back with some really great photography.  


Snake River near Schwabacher Landing
Schwabacher Landing
Sunrise at Snake River access point
The first night we set out for sunset and managed to drive right into an oncoming storm which didn’t let up until the next afternoon, nixing both sunset and sunrise shots.  After attempting sunrise in the snow blizzard, only to retreat to our warm beds, we set out for some afternoon scouting.  We snowshoed down to Schwabacher Landing to get some views of the Tetons with the Snake River.  The light was great and we were finally getting some good weather.  I had gotten some good shots and was ready to move on to the next location.  I put my Gitzo tripod in the snow to set up another shot when, ‘snap’.  Two of the legs broke right at the top.  Clean off.  Like twigs.  I had the whole weekend ahead of me and I had just broken a crucial piece of my photo gear.  After the initial shock and disappointment, I realized I now had a perfectly good ‘monopod’ and would have to finish the trip with that.  Not ideal, but you do what you gotta do.  I could stick it in the packed snow and get it reasonably stable using every precaution to keep it from shaking; cable release, mirror lock-up with a 10 sec delay.  It worked out better than I thought, but I’ll be glad to get a replacement soon (future post to come).  We hustled back up to the main road and froze in 0 degree weather to catch sunset at Snake River Overlook and enjoy the last night of 2011.
Swans brave the icy ponds outside of Jackson Hole
Icy trees near Jackson Hole


Sunrise at Snake River Overlook


Alpenglow sunrise at Snake River Overlook


The next morning we got up extra early to snowshoe to a new location.  We headed down the snow blocked road, trudging through knee deep snow even in snowshoes.  We made it to the bottom clearing where it turned out the better views were back away from the river where the pine trees created some depth and foreground.  We had a much shorter hike up, but were met by a Park Ranger at the top.  He had seen our car at the top of the road and waited until we hiked out.  Apparently, river access is off limits in the winter at the Tetons.*  
Sunset in Grand Teton National Park
Icy tree near Jackson Hole
The Tetons are beautiful in the summer, but if you’re up to freezing temperatures, limited access, and raw conditions, the Tetons in the winter are a whole different experience.  You have to be prepared, but it is well worth it.  It was definitely a great way to start off the new year. 


Cold winter morning outside Jackson Hole


Icy lake outside Jackson Hole

Essential Gear:
-Graduated Neutral Density Filters (Singh-Ray)
-Lens cloths
-Tripod (a backup doesn’t hurt!)
-2x gloves: one thinner for handling camera, one thicker while waiting for the light
-Extra batteries
-Hand warmers to keep batteries warm, as they drain quicker in the cold
-Patience, layers and wool socks.

*We had gone to the visitor center the day before to get information on accessing the river and were never informed of this rule. Not sure that’s what the ranger wanted to hear. 

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