Preserving the Dark Skies of Jackson Hole

Reclaiming the Night - Preserving the Dark Skies of Jackson Hole
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I recently completed work on my first film, Reclaiming the Night: Preserving the Dark Skies of Jackson Hole. The short film, at just over 12 minutes, discusses the issue of light pollution, how it negatively affects Jackson Hole and beyond, the vast amount of wasted energy spent on it, and how Jackson Hole can benefit exponentially from embracing the night skies, something they have thus far failed to do as demonstrated in the film, despite it being a high priority in the Comprehensive Plan.

The reduction of light pollution is a movement gaining enormous momentum around the world and Jackson has the potential to receive tremendous economic gain by encouraging both residential and commercial areas to begin turning out the lights.
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Categorized: Video
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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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Categorized: Hikes and Backpacks, Travel Logs, Wyoming
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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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Categorized: Hikes and Backpacks, Travel Logs, Wyoming
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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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Categorized: Hikes and Backpacks, Travel Logs, Wyoming
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Future Plans for Free Roaming Photography

Milky Way arching across the night sky with airglow above a tent, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming (Mike Cavaroc)
Milky Way arching across the night sky with airglow above a tent, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

I haven’t been updating this blog much, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. I’m currently wrapping up a video on light pollution in the Jackson Hole, Wyoming area, plotting a large road trip around the southwest for a follow-up video covering the region’s dark skies, and finally, making plans with my girlfriend to hike the Hayduke Trail, an 800-mile trail stretching from Arches National Park to Zion National Park with a detour through the Grand Canyon.

What Is Light Pollution?

The upcoming video, which I’m hoping to have ready by the end of the summer, will cover the basics of light pollution, how it affects Jackson Hole, some potential solutions, and the importance of the night sky to the area. It’s a personal project that I began upon teaming up with Wyoming Stargazing, whose ultimate goal at the moment is to construct an observatory and planetarium right here in Jackson, Wyoming.
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Categorized: Hayduke Trail, Travel Logs, Video
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Night Photography Explored: Part 6 – Post-Processing

Stars swirl around Polaris, the North Star, as northern lights dance on the northern horizon over Jackson Hole, Wyoming. (Mike Cavaroc)
Stars swirl around Polaris, the North Star, as northern lights dance on the northern horizon over Jackson Hole.

Post-processing can be a very tricky, and often subjective, part of the photo creating process. It opens the door to a number of different formulas, styles, and personal tastes. As a result, I’m only going to explain what I would do in the situations I’ll discuss, primarily using Adobe Lightroom. I take advantage of Adobe Photoshop for some more unusual edits, which we’ll discuss. Regardless, this doesn’t make my edits right or wrong, and they’re certainly not a definitive guide on how to process an image, but it’s how I like my night sky images to look, and therefore, it’s what I know. There are a number of other techniques and styles to look into as well though, so the important factor is finding a style that you like and enjoy and incorporating your own personal tastes into that.
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Categorized: How To
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