Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Reflections at Jackson Lake

In 1803, Thomas Jefferson organized the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery expedition to explore the unknown territory of the Louisiana Purchase.

As we entered Grand Teton NP at the Moran Junction entrance, we were greeted by these two views of Mount Moran.
During the expedition's return journey in 1806, John Colter, one of the members of the Expedition, headed back into the mountains to scout for a fur trading company. On a trip to the Crow, Colter probably entered Jackson Hole in the winter of 1807-8. He traveled into Crow territory to persuade them to trap for valuable beaver pelts, which were used for the fashionable hats of the era.

When other trappers followed Colter's example, Jackson Hole became one of the prime areas of interest. Most of the famous mountain men that trapped in the West in the early 1800's traveled the trails that crossed the valley: Jim Bridger, Jedediah Smith, William Sublette, and David Jackson were among them. They traveled through the area going to and from the annual summer Rendezvous where they traded their beaver pelts and celebrated a successful trapping season.

But it was David Jackson who gave his name to the valley when he supposedly spent the winter of 1829 on the shores of Jackson Lake.

Jackson Lake presented an almost mirror-like platform upon which to highlight the mountains to its west in the photos above and below.

For the mountain men, a "hole" indicated a high valley that was surrounded by mountains, and William Sublette, who was Jackson's partner in an early fur company, referred to the mountain valley along the Snake River as Jackson's Hole.

Since wildlife flourished in the valley, settlers hoped that domestic animals would flourish as well. By the late 1880's, they began to trail into the "Hole." Some of them followed the Gros Ventre River into the valley, and a brave few cleared a wagon route over Teton Pass, following the trail of Indians and mountain men. By the 1890's, the villages of Kelly, Wilson, and Moran had been born.

In the 1890's, cattle ranching became the major focus of the area, and with cattle ranching came a larger and more permanent settlement. The town of Jackson was named in 1894 and acquired a plan for streets and major buildings in 1900.

Whether reflected in a lake, surrounded by willows, or framed by pine trees, the mountains in the Teton range present a magnificent picture.

We left the Park with this final view of Mount Moran.

On the way back to our campground, we passed a couple of turnouts from which we had these views. Both scenes featured the rusts, golds, and browns of willows.

This view of the valley west of Dubois combined the willows with the winding stream.

Reflections come in beautiful physical forms as well as meaningful thoughtful ones.

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