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Mountain Goats, Snowstorm, cliff, Jackson Hole
Like a mountain goat
Love of the seasons
By Daryl L. Hunter
Grizzly Sunset, Grand Teton Park
Grizzly Sunset, Grand Teton Park

I love living in a four-season place. Having found the sameness of Californian’s mild climate terribly boring. I love to see them come; I love to see them go.  Oh there are some I like better than others but there isn’t one of them I’d trade for the other.

As a photographer I look forward to spring (April) not because it will be warm in the mountains where live, but because the grizzly bears come out of their dens. Yellowstone opens and it is the best time of the year for photographing predators.  Springtime in the Greater Yellowstone is still cold, I never expect a snow free calendar until after June fifteenth.   I love spring snowstorms, they are warm with big fat snowflakes, big fat snowflakes make the wildlife and landscape look wonderful.   Nobody is out and about during a spring storm except dedicated photographers.

Baby Moose, Yellowstone National Park
Baby Moose, Yellowstone National Park

About the time the grizzly bears follow the snow up the peaks and disappear into the high country at the end of spring, our valley’s bloom with wildflowers and baby animals, and birds.   Although there are plenty of them, their moms are expert at keeping them hidden, then searching and finding of them is fun.

Summer sometimes appears around June fifteenth, followed by a profusion of wildflowers, the mountain trail passes clear of snow around July first which opens up the mountains for hiking and trail riding with our horses and the back country beckons. I remember waiting for that interminable time before the passes were free of snow become safe for horse passage. In July the fly-fishing turns on and it is time to head for the rivers and streams.

The rutting elk of autumn in the Grand Tetons
The rutting elk of autumn in the Grand Tetons

September ushers in the beauty of autumn, this is my favorite time of the year, a nip in the air the promise of bugling ell carried on the wind.   The deer, moose and elk are sporting their full head of antlers and they are on the fight as there is love in the air.

The lucky photographer may find nice bulls on the fight.  The magic fall colorfully blooms as the chlorophyll drains from the foliage of the deciduous trees; the mountain maples turn red followed by golden aspen and cottonwoods.

By October the trout have lost the caution they learned over the busy summer and once again are rising for the tasty blue wing olive hatch the cooler weather allows.

Bighorn Sheep, Falling Snow
Bighorn Sheep, Falling Snow

The first snowflakes of winter are an exiting time, falling snow has a different look about it before the landscape is covered with it, and I also love how it looks in front of the animals of autumn. The deepening snow of December blankets the landscape for that wonder winter wonderland look.

 In November and December our moose are power loading on bitterbrush in the sagebrush and sometimes can be found in herds where the bitterbrush is prolific, the best time to photograph the moose. It often isn’t long before the coldest of cold snaps hit, Arctic blasts brings an atmosphere full of sparkling ice crystals, hoar frost covers our trees and our streams become incrusted in beautiful ice and icicles.

Skier Daryl Hunter, 1988

By December we have dusted off the downhill and cross-country skies so we can swoosh the slopes and experience our canyon winter wonderlands. As the winter lengthens and the weather warms to the low thirties, the snow flakes again become big and fat, perfect for putting in front of snow laden barns.

 February and march the wildlife of Jackson Hole gets a bit boring and is a fine time to start searching out the mustangs of the high desert.  The desert dirt roads don’t get much snow and the tail end of winter is before the mud and slime of April.

Spring, summer, autumn, winter, what a prodigious gift from nature each of them are.

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