Majestic! Divine! Breathtaking!
These are the first words I thought of when I saw the mountains of Grand Tetons National Park as we drove toward Yellowstone to begin this journey. It has been a lifelong dream of mine to photograph and see these two amazing parks. But I never imagined when I finally made it to see and photograph the beautiful land and wildlife in these parks that I would be doing so with limited mobility and using a wheelchair. I have been photographing for over 33 years but predominantly photographing in the state in which I live, focusing on local and regional subjects, and the years went by without my getting to see these parks.
Over the last six years I have been battling a lot of health issues, developed various symptoms, and was finally diagnosed last year with seronegative myasthenia gravis, a weakness disorder. And since this past winter, I have had multiple vertebral fractures some of which required surgery with rods and screws, and this has significantly restricted my mobility in standing and walking. And to top it off, I am in the early stages of multiple myeloma. Therefore, it became very important to me to make this trip out to Wyoming.
Earlier this year, I finally solidified plans to go to the Tetons with a side trip up to Yellowstone. My journey started with flying out of Richmond, Virginia to Denver, Colorado with my spouse who drove the rental car through the beautiful countryside of northern Colorado and Wyoming to the parks. Driving through the country and seeing the colorful and rugged landscape and geology along the ride made my first sighting of the beautiful Tetons even more spectacular.
At these two national parks, I photographed a wide range of new wildlife species such as bison, western elk, moose, and pronghorn, but I did not capture the elusive grizzly bear. Although, I waited so long for this journey to Wyoming, I see myself coming back especially to the Grand Teton National Park which I do favor over Yellowstone National Park.
The Grand Teton National Park allowed me, with my limited mobility, more opportunities to find other ways to photograph the magnificent mountainscapes with the fall foliage and wildlife such as from my vehicle or by walking a short distance to overlooks. This accessibility allowed me, as someone differently abled, to take in the stunning, gorgeous, and peaceful views of the mountains with rivers and lakes. I found it very healing.
As a nature lover and photographer, I could not have imagined, as I have often tried to do over the years, just how extraordinary these two national parks were. Even though my limited mobility prevented me from hiking trails and walking around much, I still found ways to adjust my photography skills. Whether I photographed from a vehicle, wheelchair, boulders, fences or a stool, I was still able to find ways to be creative and capture captivating images that will make people appreciate our natural world.
Lori A Cash is an award-winning wildlife and nature conservation photographer who has over thirty years experience photographing wildlife and nature. As a photographer, she has always had a love for the natural world and hopes that her images will inspire others to appreciate our natural world. Lori resides in Hampton, Virginia and loves to focus her conservation efforts by photographing and storytelling about the biodiversity around the Commonwealth of Virginia.