Author Archives: Mike Cavaroc

Milky Way Above Cirque of the Towers

Restoring the Night Sky for a Healthier Future

Milky Way Above Cirque of the Towers

The Milky Way Galaxy stretching out from Cirque of the Towers, Popo Agie Wilderness, Wyoming

On Monday, October 6th, 2014, I’ll be giving a TEDxJacksonHole talk on the subject of light pollution, which will be titled, Restoring the Night Sky for a Healthier Future. The talk will discuss my personal experience and growing interest in light pollution, the facts and science behind how it affects each and every one us and the ecosystems we live in, and why a dark night sky is so essential and important in creating a spiritual connection to both our own species, and the infinite space around us.

On April 28th of 2014, I gave a much lengthier talk that was specific to Jackson Hole, Wyoming (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RK6VmG4rYME). Though many similar concepts will be shared, the TEDx talk will be significantly shorter and will be much more polished, refined, and to the point to make it worthy of the TED name.
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Delta Lake at Dawn

Delta Lake in the Teton Mountains

The Grand Teton towers above nearby peaks and the turquoise waters of Delta Lake in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. (Mike Cavaroc)
The Grand Teton towers above nearby peaks and the turquoise waters of Delta Lake in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

Distance (one way): 4 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Best time of year: Summer

Be forewarned: Delta Lake is a very challenging trail that requires route-finding skills and a very steep ascent up a large boulder field. This trail is not at all for casual hikers.

I had always been hesitant to make a blog post about Delta Lake because I didn’t want the secret to get out. It was my "happy place" where I knew I’d have the whole lake to myself any time I went. Judging from my last hike up there, however, it’s safe to say the secret’s out. After encountering a number of parties along the trail, as well as doing a Google search discovering many other trail descriptions for access, I decided there wasn’t much of a secret left to protect.
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Red Hills of the Gros Ventres

Red Hills and Lavender Hills of the Gros Ventres

A trail leads into the Red Hills of the Gros Ventre Mountains, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming (Mike Cavaroc)
A trail leads into the Red Hills of the Gros Ventre Mountains, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming


Distance (one way): 2.1 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Best time of year: Spring, Summer, Fall

Tucked away east of Jackson Hole is local treasure very few take the time to see. The Red Hills of the Gros Ventre Mountains are an exposed sandstone deposit that are leftover from when the region was under a shallow sea, roughly 50 million years ago. The road to the hills is engineered in such a way that immediately after coming around a small bend in the road, a dramatic view of the hills overwhelms you with a sense of natural beauty and wonder. A pullout is conveniently located at that exact location so that you can fully appreciate the view.

While the view from the road is amazing, the hike up through the hills is even more rewarding.
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Wyoming Range

Wyoming Range: Little Grey’s River to Pickle Pass

Storms over the forests of the Wyoming Range, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming (Mike Cavaroc)
Storms over the forests of the Wyoming Range, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

Distance (one way): 4 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Best time of year: Summer

A water purifier is not something you want to forget on a three-day backpacking trip. A wiser person, upon realizing an essential item was forgotten while still at the car, would have packed everything back up, gone home to retrieve the purifier, then done another trip closer to home, especially if this person hasn’t been able to go hiking much lately. I, however, have stubbornness issues.

Despite being completely unfamiliar with the terrain, particularly with reliable sources of water, I still headed into the Wyoming Mountains with two liters of water to see where that could bring me.

My initial plan was to spend three days backpacking the Little Grey’s River Loop, a hike I had read about that promised solitude, rugged mountain wildness, and wildlife.
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Backpacking Tent Under Mountain

How I Shot It – Backpacking Tent Under Evening Light

Backpacking tent lying under evening light hitting a Gros Ventre Mountain peak, Gros Ventre Wilderness, Wyoming (Mike Cavaroc)
Backpacking tent lying under evening light hitting a Gros Ventre Mountain peak, Gros Ventre Wilderness, Wyoming

With digital photography becoming so mainstream these days, many advances have accompanied the evolution of the technology. At some point, it was bound to be expected that tools that were considered unheard of in photography just ten years ago would eventually become standard items for many people who wouldn’t consider themselves photographers at all. At the same time, many tricks and developments were created to accommodate for different ranges of light, two of them being layer mask blending in Photoshop, and the other, HDR. For those wondering, this is not a rant against HDR. That time is over. It’s found its audience and at this point has established itself as a style many prefer.

Myself, I was a hardcore advocate of the layer mask blending technique in Photoshop, though admittedly, it’s above the head of many who simply don’t care to learn Photoshop.
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Teton Mountains and Night Sky

A Short Backpacking Trip to Coyote Rock

Illuminated tent under a night sky with the Teton Mountains, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming (Mike Cavaroc)
Illuminated tent under a night sky with the Teton Mountains, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

Distance (one way): 2 miles
Difficulty: Moderate-Strenuous
Best time of year: Spring, Summer, Fall

All that work and I still don’t have even one photo of Coyote Rock.

Located just east of Grand Teton National Park, high above the valley of Jackson Hole, lies a lone boulder secluded in its recession on a hill that delivers tremendous views of the region. This is Coyote Rock. Though the trail only brings you two miles from the road, the feeling of isolation and disconnection from the valley below is easily attainable.

I made a short, overnight backpacking trip to this rock late in June with the purpose of acquiring some new night photography imagery while also catching a quick escape into nature. Due to my timing, the mosquitoes were aggressively anxious for attention, but are typically only in the area from mid-June to early July, so don’t expect them if you’re visiting outside of that time.
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