In the last two days of our stay in Gros Ventre Campground at Grand Teton, we finally experienced the real wild west. In addition to the two moose we saw the other night, we saw eleven more moose, including a bull moose!!! No wander Grand Teton is the home of Moose. I also rode a horse for the first time in my life. All the items on my wish list were checked off.
After nearly a week, we finally saw two moose by the Gros Ventre River near the campground in the late afternoon. Then early in the morning the next day we drove along the Moose-Wilson road, a narrow road to Teton Village. After passing the Death Canyon Trailhead, we saw lots of vehicles parking on a big turnout. People were watching with their binoculars and cameras with big lens. We parked our truck and were excited to see a female moose walking in the creek. Another two little moose were on the meadow on the other side of the creek. The female moose walked along the creek foraging for extensive time. And I followed her on the overlook snapping photos. Her silhouetted profile against the ripples shone under her feet was a beautiful sight. At last, she walked out of the river and onto the bank beneath. She stood there briefly, then ran away up the creek. The other two moose were sitting down among the tall grass flipping their ears from time to time. We left and soon encountered a traffic jam at the Laurance & Rockefeller Preserve. It was a black bear in a tree! Wow!
Unlike Jackson filled with galleries, shops, restaurants, hotels, and tourists. Teton Village is more like a resort with luxury hotels, trams, and sky lifts. Several hang gliders were flying high in the air. Wondering around the town, we came across Teton Village Trail Rides. It costs $45 for one hour ride. After a pizza lunch, I signed up for the one o’clock ride. A family of five with three girls and a young couple were in my group. Our guide was a young lady. The youngest girl got on a horse first. The eldest girl got a tall black horse named Chief. I was the last one and got a brown horse called Mississippi. The guy who helped me onto the horse told me not to play with my purse on the ride because it might disturb the horse. I was scared immediately at his warning, and handed him my purse immediately asking him to give it to Stephen. I was told to put my left hand holding the saddle and hold the rein with the other hand. “Left to left, right to right, pull back to stop.” That was the command for riding a horse.
Right after I got ready, the guy pulled my horse to the middle of the team and we started the horse ride. I was excited and a little bit scared. Because the news said that a bear stunned horses during a horse ride tour at Colter Bay Village caused stamped and injured several in August. I held tight of the saddle with both hands and put my feet securely in the foot rest. Mississippi followed the horse in front of him. I became more confident after riding Mississippi for a while. Mississippi was a well-trained horse and was able to make the sharp turns, crossed the logs and creeks without my command. Well, I didn’t know what the commands were either. He was too fast though. His face almost touched the back of the horse in the front. And I had to pull back the rein lightly from time to time and told him to slow down. Mississippi seemed to have an itchy right ear. He shook his ears and stopped twice to rub his right ear against the trunk. He also sniffed loudly several times. Comparing to me, the lady who rode in front of me was more of an old hand. She kept taking her cell phone out from her purse and taking photos and videos along the road. She also put her feet up on the horse. The big black horse Chief sometimes stopped in the middle of it, and the guide looked back and told the girl to give the horse a kick. I didn’t want to kick Mississippi because I didn’t know what his reaction would be. He just carried me on his back and walked up and down the rocky hill. Sometimes he turned around a little bit, I guessed he was checking on me.
We crossed a small bridge, rode on the rocky trail in the woods on the mountains. Went uphill and then downhill, crossed logs and a creek. Leaves of some trees have turned yellow. Valley could be seen on our way downhill. Lots of dust were kicked off at some sections of the trail. My feet became a bit tired and same as my butt. We went back safe and sound. Woohoo! I was a cowgirl for an hour.
We returned to our campground on the same road. The turnout we stopped by this morning was filled with wildlife watchers again. On the creek were a mom moose and her calf feeding on the aquatic plants. In the roadside woods laid a bull moose. We were told that the bull moose was down on the creek with the other two moose earlier, then he came up to the woods and has been laying there for hours. Looking across the meadow, under a leaning tree, only his big rack was visible from 100 yards away. He occasionally moved his antlers. A lady has been waiting there for hours with her big lens on the monopod taking photos of the bull. More vehicles pulled over and people came to watch. While waiting for the actions, I walked to check the moose in the creek. The moose submerged their heads in the water foraging. According to the map of Grand Teton National Park, moose like wetlands, their main diet is willows. They also eat aquatic plants, and can dive up to 18 feet deep. Stephen later said that he saw the mom moose breast fed the calf.
A ranger showed up and directed the traffic and maintained the order of the scene. She said that this is the mating season for the moose. We waited for almost two hours, and it was about 5 o’clock in the afternoon. Suddenly, I saw the bull moose stood up. He was looking at us in the woods, by that leaning tree. Everyone cheered and snapped photos. He lowered his head and ate a little bit, then turned around and laid down again. That was great to see a bull moose in Grand Teton. We saw another mom moose with her two calf eating willows by a creek near Kelly. What a day of experiencing the wild side of Grand Teton!