About MeI live in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where I explore the deeper reaches of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem while also trying to raise awareness about light pollution and the importance of dark skies through photography and video.
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Juniper log resting below a fiery sunrise near Highway 191 in southern Wyoming
I’m currently catching up my connected life in Moab, Utah where I’m having a delicious sandwich at Pantele’s Desert Deli (thanks for the recommendation, Bret!), downloading photos, and going through emails. Thus far, the trip has been great! My only regret is not getting a quick interview from a guy named Steven that I met in Dinosaur National Monument when he told me about someone going door-to-door in Grand Juction, Colorado offering to pay residents to put up shielded lighting and having the vast majority of them refuse, even though it came out of his pocket and would cost them nothing. Lesson learned. Thanks for the great conversation regardless, Steven and Bill!
Stars and night sky spin above dead juniper tree, southern Wyoming
After a late start on Tuesday, I found myself driving south along Highway 191 in southern Utah, a spectacular high desert region blanketed with juniper trees with the occasional bare spot exposing millions of years of erosion along ancient seabeds in the form of badlands.
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.
This past summer, much of my inspiration shifted from the Jackson Hole valley floor to much higher elevations found up in the mountains. While the higher elevations had always been significant motivation for me, this past season saw that motivation become much more pronounced, weening my inspiration away from the roadsides. In addition, there’s also my upcoming TEDxJacksonHole talk and completing my short film on light pollution, both of which demanded a large chunk of my time, forcing me to drastically reduce my work with Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris. However, though my days are limited at the moment, I had a recent trip with exceptional opportunities found throughout the valley with a delightful pair of other photographers.
We were off well before sunrise in a downpour that showed no signs of letting up.
With several projects going on right now, I was able to find time to take a little afternoon escape into some fall colors of Jackson Hole. I headed over to the Shadow Mountain area, along the eastern boundary of Grand Teton National Park, and began hiking around the game trails to guide me through the meadows and aspen groves.
I had hoped to hike up part of Shadow Mountain as well, where even more bright colors were waiting, no doubt with tremendous views below, but I found the few hours I had to play at the base plenty to satisfy my craving to get outdoors. Since it had been almost three weeks since I last hiked, it was a welcome break from sitting at the computer and running around town.
On Monday, October 6th, 2014, I gave a TEDxJacksonHole talk on the subject of light pollution titled, Restoring the Night Sky for a Healthier Future. The talk discussed 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 were shared, the TEDx talk was significantly shorter and much more polished, refined, and to the point to make it worthy of the TED name.
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
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.