August flows with a pulse of anticipation. Busy times in a busy valley. Traffic slows. Reservations are required. Trails are crowded. Amidst the business, nature continues to thrive.

The winter snow and wet spring have kept the valley greener than usual. Flowers continue at higher elevations. Berries are abundant with huckleberry, serviceberry, chokecherry and black hawthorn hanging heavy on the branches. Animals share their majestic beauty as they flourish on fresh vegetation and the bounty of summer. As the month of August draws to a close, we experience a TOTAL solar eclipse, cooler temperatures, and the start of fall with children returning to school and bears on the Moose-Wilson Road. Fun times!

Our summer season has been overshadowed by the “line of totality.” It is the center line of a total solar eclipse and it traveled over Jackson Hole on August 21. Our community has prepared for over two years to meet the demand of eclipse viewers and a busy summer month. Our town hired eclipse experts to consult how to prepare, held meetings to inform the community, staged additional emergency response teams, and purchased extra facilities such as food, gas, and port-a-potties. The whole experience was a huge success as Grand Teton Park broke summer visitation records. Local community and federal agencies collaborated and the day was enjoyed by all.

The eclipse started at 10:17 AM and the line of totality occurred at 11:35 AM. A week prior to the event, the weather prediction was possible 50% cloud cover. We were told to stay home, off the roads, store water, extra food and prepare for a possible increase of 100,000 people to watch this amazing event.

We went to our chosen spots. Being higher in the mountains gave you the chance to see the shadow as it sped across our valley. Wherever you were, you could see the sunlight get shaded by the moon. The whole event took about 2 hours and was amazing. The dark line of shadow as the sun crossed the moon’s path enamored us all. The light began to change, to soften, to still. It became eerie, darker with just a bit of light. Then totality which allowed us to see the corolla on the sun; the strip of light from the sun’s gases. It was amazing. Jaw dropping amazing! The air cooled as if nature held its’ breath. The chilly air reminded me how dependent we are on the sun’s warmth. As warm-blooded animals, we can’t survive without the sun. Absolutely astounding and I can see why so many people chase solar eclipses to experience the wonder again.

The month ends with the feel of fall in the air. It’s the change of the shadows as the coolness is held longer than mid-summer. I like the change.

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What’s in the Woods-
8/6- snake river- mature bald eagles, merganser, American dipper
8/7- Wilson, WY- cow moose and two calves
8/8- smoky haze in valley due to fires in British Columbia, Pocatello
8/9- Mail Cabin- monkey flower, monskhood, nettle, Indian paintbrush, cow parsnip, yampah, aster, delphinium, fireweed
8/13- Munger Mountain- ripe serviceberries, rose hips, mountain snowberries, blooming goldeneye, fireweed, turkey vulture
8/20- Wilson, WY- cow moose with her twins come to spend time in the shade
8/21- total solar eclipse!- 11:16 AM in Jackson Hole- cooler temperatures, chipmunk chirped through the entire event but birds quieted, ethereal, calm, still, amazing light! Worth every minute/second
8/26- Mail Cabin- Indian Paintbrush, golden eye, aster, fall coolers begin on many leaves

Tour Suggestion-
As September begins, it’s a great time for the sunrise drive to see animals. Mating season begins. Animals move will the change in light. Bears come lower in elevation to eat the berries. Dynamic times. Fishing has been a challenge this summer with high water flows so fall could be the ideal time. Trail options are endless and a fun time to visit the parks with fewer visitors. A favorite is Paintbrush Canyon with the wooded trail, flowing creek, high meadows and Holly Lake. Lots of hiking options. The walk around String Lake is also quite nice. The wind cave in Darby Canyon/Jedediah Smith Wilderness is a fun fall walk. Beautiful fall colors and the cave is a great destination. Regardless of your choice, it’s a great time to play before the snow begins to fall. Have fun and be aware of the wildlife. Dynamic times.

About the Author

Cathy Shill and The Hole Hiking Experience are Jackson’s original nature company to connect to the landscape through lively interpretation. Throughout the year, we share nature and inspire you with our knowledge about flowers, wildlife, ecology, natural history and much more. Nature comes alive as you utilize your senses to connect and discover.

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