Welcoming in a New Year in the Wind River Canyon can present some exciting opportunities for a great celebration, but this year we knew a snowstorm was moving in. An old friend took flight just ahead of the snow, and it was good that he did, as it turned out. Wyoming news predicted a few inches in the town just to the north of the canyon (Thermopolis); they received six inches. The small-town (Shoshoni) twenty miles south from the middle of the canyon where we live received no snow at all!
We got blasted with well over a foot of snow with winds that howled in from the north all night long, then flipped directions as the blizzard moved on! At 3 o'clock in the morning I swore a train was coming through the Wind River Canyon; it was just the wind trying to carve stone with snow; the sound was incredible. Drifts of snow swirled around our cabin with whipped cream peaks of three feet by morning! A two foot drift ran 85 feet all the way down the back of our canyon home and had the consistency of cement; the temperature was twelve below zero!!!
The Wind River Canyon was closed and wouldn't reopen till late in the morning of the brand New Year----we couldn't even get out of our yard without the help of the good neighbor with the bulldozer.
In the winter here in the Wind River Canyon wildlife activity slows to a halt. This gives me time to go through photograph files that I never had the time for in the summer, because I'm too busy with my hummingbirds. Usually these pictures are shot during times of inactivity. I may look at them or do some preliminary post-production, but the hummingbirds always get first priority. While we were stranded by the deep-snow I found some photographs that stirred my creative juices, which is good because I have a lot of juices and I couldn't go anywhere anyway. Showy Milkweed Flowers and a BumblebeeShowy Milkweed flowers and Bumblebee photographed in the Wind River Canyon in the state of Wyoming. The wonderfully complex wildflowers are Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) at their absolute height of bloom. These wildflowers are considered to be some of the most complex of flowers and are comparable to Orchids in their complexity. This image was photographed after a rare rain shower (look very closely) as the sun emerged. Most species of Milkweed are toxic, yet it is the only food for Monarch Butterfly caterpillars! I encourage their growth here in the Wind River Canyon. These Milkweed wildflowers are some of the most wonderfully sweet smells anywhere in nature.
Bumblebees have always fascinated me. These furry, chubby little things buzz around doing their job and are friendlier than you'd first imagine. First, it takes a lot to piss-off a bumblebee; they are usually easier to get along with than family:-) But they have stingers without barbs, so if you make one mad he can sting you over and over and over.....the stinger doesn't stay in and the bumblebee doesn't die like a honeybee.
That fat bumblebee only lives one summer; they all die but the Queens. Around here they bury themselves in the ground and go dormant; a time called diapause. They reemerge in warmer months to start a new generation; they also make other young Queen bumblebees as well as drones.
Here in the Wind River Canyon it gets quite cold on late summer nights. By early morning, even in mid-August, it may be 45 degrees Fahrenheit----the perfect temperature for petting bumblebees! I know this sounds a bit nuts, but it's loads of fun. A bumblebee will be stranded on wildflowers because of the temps and the cold makes them nearly immobile. They "vibrate" to warm themselves up, no real danger there. It's crazy fun to pet bumblebees, and I have taught others this weird pleasure of Mother Nature's magic. Milkweed, Wind River Canyon, WyomingMilkweed photographed in black and white in the Wind River Canyon in Wyoming. It's definitely winter here in the Wind River Canyon, we've had two good snows that will be with us for a seemingly long time. On the other hand, the icefalls in the canyon are the best in years; stop and take a look with your binoculars if you are near.
Here's some good advice, go back and take another look at those pictures; you'll never know what you find when you've been stranded by a blizzard on Mars.
All content of Wind River Canyon Blog and HogbatsPhotography.com is produced by Michael John Balog, a resident of the canyon, and all rights are reserved and protected by internationally recognized copyright laws. And if you believe that, I know this guy that has a bridge for sale.
Happy New Year to everyone who loves and helps the wildlife; they really do need your help.