Trips: Christmas In The Tetons. 2011

Christmas 2011 was a special time in the Tetons. While the snow was nowhere near what it usually is, the frequent clear skies afforded more opportunities to watch that amazing spectacle of the first rays of sunlight turning the Teton peaks into a fiery glow of orange and red. It takes less than 15 minutes for the sun to light the entire mountain range after it strikes the first peak. On Christmas morning, the temperature was 21 degrees below zero with fierce winds. But that magical sunrise was followed by an even rarer treat: wolves running through the snowy fields after a night of hunting in the Gros Ventre river bottom, not far, ironically, from where the Teton park superintendent still strangely permits the hunting of elk.

Christmas dawns with crystal blue skies and temperatures nearly 20 below atop Snake River Overlook.

Christmas dawns with crystal blue skies and temperatures nearly 20 below atop Snake River Overlook. Photo © copyright by Ed Fuhr.

A bald eagle takes flight after being spooked from the elk carcass where it had been feeding.

A bald eagle takes flight after being spooked from the elk carcass where it had been feeding. Photo © copyright by Ed Fuhr.

A flash of movement and seemingly from nowhere a white wolf darts across the snow-covered meadow from the river bottoms where...

A flash of movement and seemingly from nowhere a white wolf darts across the snow-covered meadow from the river bottoms where it had hunted the night before. Photo © copyright by Ed Fuhr.

A white wolf sprints across the open meadow and snows toward its pack mates who are headed home.

A white wolf sprints across the open meadow and snows toward its pack mates who are headed home. Photo © copyright by Ed Fuhr.

Wolves are inherently communal creatures.  Here, a dark colored wolf waits on the white wolf.

Wolves are inherently communal creatures. Here, a dark colored wolf waits on the white wolf. Photo © copyright by Ed Fuhr.

A wolf moves across the snowy ridge toward its den on a nearby butte.

A wolf moves across the snowy ridge toward its den on a nearby butte. Photo © copyright by Ed Fuhr.

A wolf waits for one of its pack mates.

A wolf waits for one of its pack mates. Photo © copyright by Ed Fuhr.

A wolf heads towards the butte where it will spend the day, high above the snowy meadows below.

A wolf heads towards the butte where it will spend the day, high above the snowy meadows below. Photo © copyright by Ed Fuhr.

The Teton range peeks above the fog that hovers above the frozen Snake River. 

The Teton range peeks above the fog that hovers above the frozen Snake River. Photo © copyright by Ed Fuhr.

The sun quickly lights the Teton range above Schwabacher Landing this clear Christmas Morning. 

The sun quickly lights the Teton range above Schwabacher Landing this clear Christmas Morning. Photo © copyright by Ed Fuhr.