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Friday, July 10, 2015

Day 32: Mount Owen near Cascade Canyon (7/6/15)

Mount Owen near Cascade Canyon

This morning I decided to do a hike into the seemingly-untouchable mountains, on a trail recommended by one of the Rangers to get a view of the mountains and a creek/stream/river. As soon as I got to the trailhead I saw a sign warning for bears...don't hike alone (alone), carry bear spray (left mine in my car), make noise (bear bell also in car) I was a little nervous and felt a little stupid for my rookie mistakes. But I have to note here that I have seen all kinds of hikers...I'm dressed in my hiking clothes and boots, and then someone walks by in flip flops and jeans. Or I have tons of water and lunch, and someone is carrying a bottled water and that's it. So that has been interesting. To deter any bears I sang some tunes, and now that I think about it, it probably deterred some humans as well. In dulcet tones I belted out classics from my days as a stoker on a tandem with my dad..."I've Been Workin on the Railroad," "You Are My Sunshine," "Do, a Deer," and "America, the Beautiful." And a couple John Denver songs that came to me in pieces. It was fun. Not that time ever needs to pass quickly on a hike in the Tetons...but it helped the time pass and brought back some good memories.

The second part of the trail was UP. Just when I think I'm dying I see a five year old hiking the trail, or an eighth year old, or people backpacking, and I'm like okay Emily buck up. I saw one or two views with Cascade Creek, but nothing with a great view of the mountain and the creek. I kept hiking and the vegetation and rocks cleared, and there was the mountain, sitting more majestically than I have ever seen a mountain sit before. I felt transported, to the Swiss Alps or some foreign place. It was shrouded in mystery with whispy clouds pushing and pulling the mountain in and out of view. It was so magnificent. The people on the trail ahead of me looked like minute specks. I can still see it vividly in my head, how tall and imposing the mountain stood.

The was clearly the spot for me to paint. I wanted to emulate Moran's In the Teton Range, and I felt in the Teton range, as he envisioned in his painting. It was a surreal and beautiful place to work...surrounded by tall pines, big gray boulders, the sound of a creek to my left, the mountain range looming in front of me. Working just off the hiking trail, I saw so many backpackers going in and out, in addition to day hikers. Seeing them made me want to backpack - especially in the Tetons. It's something I considered when I was planning my trip, but backpacking alone generally isn't a good idea (or, I am way too inexperienced for it to be a good idea). So Dan - backpacking in the Tetons is on our bucket list.

I met lots of nice people working so close to the trail. I saw Angela and Donny again, the same couple I met at Old Faithful on July 4th. What are the odds...days later, in a different park, on the same hike at the same time. Crazy. Very cool to see a familiar face in a place where I know nobody. I continued working and the steady, but not overly crowded, flow of people helped me stay focused. I could see rain starting on the mountain, heard a clap of thunder, and decided it was time to pack up. I wasn't quite finished so part of me thought about waiting it out to see if it would pass. But, thunder, so I decided to go. I met a man named Charlie, a retired firefighter, and we started talking and didn't stop until we hit the end of the cascades trail. He's from Cleveland, OH and from what I could gather he's touring national parks in the U.S. And Canada inspired by an article on the best hikes in National parks. We talked about (taught him a little about the HRS painters, he told me about an artist he is fascinated with, of course I can't remember the name), biking (he had a story about seeing a black bear on his bike, I told him about our TransAmerica adventure) and other odds and ends. I hope I see him again in Yellowstone. Three friends in one day - whoa! I also met a couple who have a place near the Tetons...they were telling me it is a great place to visit year round, because cross country skiing and snowshoeing is popular here. Out west in general I get the vibe that people are outdoors and active year round, with their activities changing as the weather shifts.

I saw a sign for Lake Solitude when I started my hike which is in the foreground of Moran's painting Solitude. The lake is 8.5 miles away, which is more than I'm wanting to take on and allow time for painting. Looking at a map, it's closer to the Idaho side, but there isn't a trail that goes to it from that side that I know of. Maybe I'll ask a ranger. I found out that Bierstadt actually painted the Tetons too, but authorities say he invented the scenes. Moran's paintings, however, are clearly based on field sketches. Neither ever made it to Jackson a Hole, so we don't have any paintings from them of the Grand Teton face (sad).

I got back to my car and set up my painting on the parking lot sidewalk. I'm working away, and it starts to rain again. So I threw all my stuff in the trunk of my car and kept working back there. Happy to have finished, I rewarded myself by wading in the beautiful String Lake...where I watched, for the third time, rain descend down the mountain. It was actually a cool experience to watch the rain progress, hear it in the trees, and even see it on the lake before the first drops hit me. It was also cool that I was very close to my car when it did start raining.

On my way back to Colter Bay I saw the sun's rays shining in beams behind Mount Moran. The sky was dark and stormy, and the mountains were dark in shadow, and this warm light yellow light radiated on either side. I was so enthralled with the scene that I almost completely missed the magnificent rainbow happening on the other side of me. Wow. It was a day of magnificent landscapes.

Clouds over the mountains today.
String Lake meets Jenny Lake.
The mountains are RIGHT THERE! And there were people mountain climbing. *Amazing*
You can't hide from me for long, big giant mountain.
Magnificent! The most similar scene I saw to Moran's In the Teton Range, but not an ideal place to paint, so I kept hiking.
The mountain was ~shrouded in mystery~ (that phrase was in my head all day)
Again - very mysterious and very beautiful.
Mount Owen.
So painting the Tetons doesn't even compare to painting IN the Tetons. The clouds cleared and Mount Owen was out in full force.
A woman I met was kind enough to send me some shots of me working! Great photos.
Best studio yet...or at least top 3.
Wasn't able to finish before this approached. And a big clap of thunder.
String Lake near where it feeds into Jenny Lake.
Hi little elk, where's your mama?
String Lake! Dare I say more beautiful than Jenny Lake? Everything in me said swim! But a louder voice said finish your painting!
Finished on the sidewalk next to my car until it started to rain again.
In the Teton Range by Thomas Moran. Nothing specific enough to identify an exact I just in the range.
The sun hid behind the mountains on my way back.
Glorious rays of light!
And then...a piece of heaven on earth.
Beautiful end to a beautiful day.





  1. Wonderful photos! Great description of your day! And, wonderful painting and glad you got to finish it!
    Love, mom

  2. Wonderful paintings and history...Emily you are a very talented artist. Looking forward to pics from Hayden Valley and the overlook in YNP. I enjoyed meeting you near the North Entrance of YNP. Double Rainbow day!!!