Hello from Grand Tetons NP

Its so beautiful looking sun set on the Tetons from the cabins on the side of Jackson lake. We just arrived here for a field trip and will be staying here for more ~10 days. There is some snow on the Teton tips. Weather is so nice. Warm enough. Sunny. Green every where. 

I will try to write everyday activities here in this post. Please follow this post.

Day1 (06/01/12): Laramie to Jackson Lake
We came from Laramie via I-80 to Rawlings and then HY 287. Driving on 287 especially around Wind River and later on when we were approaching to the Jackson lake area (where Grand Tetons are located) was just awesome. Wind River area is famous for indigenous people of the USA-the Red Indians. This place has "reserve area" for those who have been staying in this area for generations. And, it is also a famous tourist destination these days. We didn’t stop by Wind River reservation but it is on my list of one of ‘to visit places’. There are spectacular views of colored little mountains or hills. And, these hills have interesting structures on them which may be because of the strong wind.
around Wind River

When we were approaching close to the Tetons, the view was even more spectacular. As it was the evening time, the green jungle (conifers), the whole landscape, small rivers or creeks, and the on the background the Tetons were amazing. In addition to these beauties that this place has, we were lucky enough to witness a bear grazing on the side of the road on the very first day of our visit to the Tetons. I took a picture and am sharing with you. My camera doesn’t have a telephoto lens that’s why I couldn’t zoom in enough but you still see in the picture below. It is a brown colored. I am not sure whether it was a black or brown bear. It was a small one though. Later on, when I talked to NPS-UW research center officials, came to know that this creature is roaming in this area for few days. There are posting on the road to make you aware that bears are around. Interesting thing to me was that that bear didn’t care about human activities. Many cars were pulled over the road and so many people watching it, but it looked like nothing is happing. My guess is that it is just used to such things.
I was in this place last summer also. That was just for touristic visit. But, in this visit I have some responsibilities as a assistant to the research team. And, we are staying on NPS-UW research center cabins. I will write about the service it provides for researchers in upcoming posts. Today, I just want to mention one thing. That is its prime location. This center is just on the side of Jackson Lake. On one side of the lake, this center is located and on the other side of the lake are Grand Tetons. I can see the spectacular views of these mountains through my cabin window. It is really beautiful. These mountains still have snow on them which adds to the beauty. Also, just now we saw a deer (no idea which type) in front of our cabin. So good.
Jackson Lake and the Tetons

Okay, this much for now. We have to prepare for tomorrow’s trip to the death canyons. Good night. 

Very limited access to internet. Will upload more photos and videos in coming days.

Day2 (06/02/12)-From Death Canyon

Prof Dillon with his PhD student Susma in their
study site
As I mentioned you in day 1 writing, I am here to help a research team from University of Wyoming. This research team, headed by Prof Dillon, aims to collect different bee species in this location to understand the effect of changing climate on bee physiology. Today morning we headed to one of the study sites-the “death canyons”. This study site is about 45 min drive toward south from the research station. After parking our car on the parking place around 8:30am, we loaded our study gears on our back and started hiking up. This hiking trail goes little up and reaches to a ridge from where you see a fabulous view of Phelps Lake. This lake receives snow melt water from death canyons-I guess somewhere from Alaska basin (not sure). On the side of Phelps Lake, we set up our bee collection cups. This is our site #1. We have three sites on this canyon at different elevations. We then moved to another site. After we reached around 8500 ft, the hiking trail was blocked with snow and the vegetation there was just emerging which didn’t favor our goal and we decided to come back. We had our lunch at this place. Down the hiking trail, the snow melt river is flowing down with all white water and too much noise that it was difficult to even hear our own conversation. Looking up on both sides of the trail were the big stony mountains (with very little vegetation and snow on them) and towards way back to the trail was a whole scenery of mountains, a river flowing through a narrow mountain pass and the Phelps Lake.  It was raining in the morning on the up canyon. But it was wonderful. We descended back to the site#1 and collected bees. And, finally came back after 10 hours work including ~2hrs driving. It was the first time I hiked that long (~5 hrs) on the mountain trails (ups and downs) after ~10 yrs. Now I am tired. The day after tomorrow, we will go to the same location upto ~11000 ft. Before that, we will go to another location-paint brush canyon tomorrow.
2nd bear on the road side!!

And, while driving back to the research center, we saw two bears on the road side. It is amazing to see a single bear can attract so many people. We also saw two moose on the hiking trail. One female moose with its baby was there on the road side. We saw this moose while going to our field on the morning ~8am, and it was still there while we were coming back ~5pm. 

At the research center, one deer was just out side of the library where I have access to the internet was just hanging out. It posed for photographs. And, here it is.
This deer is around our residence at NPS-UW research center.

Day3 (06/03/12)-Hiking at Paint Brush Canyon
Today we went for a hiking on Paint Brush Canyon. Parked our car on the parking lot near String Lake. Today's hike was about 5 hrs in total. We were not able to go farther (above ~8000 ft) because of same snow. Set up cups  for bee collection at two different elevations. We hiked around Jenny Lake also. Hiking around Jenny Lake was a nice one. Part of the hiking trail was blocked by avalanche (not big one though).  We saw a male moose while descending down from the second cup setting site. He was just staring at us. On the way to our research station, we saw at couple of points on the side of road that one bear (I think it is the same bear we have been seeing past three days at this location) and one moose. So many people just pointing their binoculars and cameras. We arrived on the research center ~3pm (early compared to yesterday), had some rest and had dinner at Prof Dillon's cabin. Went to Jackson Lake beach (:)) played a while.
Moose near lower Paint Brush Canyon camping site area

Day5 (06/05/12)-Paint Brush Canyon 2nd time
You may be curious where is day4? No day4 hiking for me. I didn't go for hiking because I had nothing to do in the field. Prof Dillon and Susma went to Death canyon site and I just stayed in the research center and worked on my own stuffs. Day 5 was just a repetition of what we did in day 3. We were just Susma and myself hiking upto lower paint brush canyon camping site where Susma has the 2nd site in paint brush canyon location. Beyond this point, snow is on the hiking trail and no chance of catching bees. While going up in the very morning we were the first on the trail but while coming back we saw couple of more people. In the early morning, it was kinda scary to be the first on the trail. We were talking, whistling, singing songs all the time to make bears go away from our way. I took some pictures from this hiking. Specially the shadows of Tetons and String lake. They came out to be really good. Some pictures from today's hiking......
Susma is processing the ''bees'' at ''lower paint brush canyon site''

Tetons on String Lake 
Day 6 (06/06/12)-Death Canyon 2nd time
Again Susma and I started the hiking early morning ~8am. Nobody on the trail other than us. Made noise to get away from Bears. Saw no animals during the entire 5 hrs hiking except marmots. It was really a cold morning. There were signs of light snowfall in the night. Water on the surface of cups were frozen. The creek coming down from the canyon to the Phelps Lake was making big noise. Took some pictures of the whole landscape, focusing on the same creek and the Phelps Lake. After returning to the research center, we decided to go and see Old Faithful geyser in Yellostone NP. We had missed the eruption of water last year. But this time we were lucky enough to see it and didn't have to wait for long time. Here are some pictures captured today.
Susma processing ''bees'' at Death Canyon site#2
Phelps Lake

This is me at Old Faithful Geyser

Day 7 (06/07/12)-Paint Brush Canyon and back to Laramie

Our initial plan was to return to Laramie on 8th. But we decided to return on today. We just had to go for a 5 hr hiking on pain brush canyon and this hiking was the usual one. NOT much different. Even I didn't carry my camera and finished in 3 and half hour and we were excited to return home. We started our hike ~7:30 in the morning and back to the parking place ~11:00am. And, to Laramie ~6:00pm. Happy to be at home. We completed our mission aimed for this trip. Susma has brought ~100's of bees. I am excited to see her results after she performs lab work. She will go to the same field sites three more times this year.

As a PhD student in Chemistry, I may not have detailed information about UW-NPS research center can offer for you. From my experience from this trip, I can say that it provides an unique opportunity for researchers interested on biodiversity, ecology, climate change research in broad. It provides some laboratory facility along with fantastic housing for researchers. Also, I believe it provides some financial help. You may want to select this area for your field research. 

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