After our cozy cabin stay outside of Big Sky, Montana, we continued our journey south to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The Tetons were in full fall display with yellow quaking aspens, willows, and cottonwoods, along with reds and oranges from the shrubs lining the creeks and rivers. On our first day students hiked in Grand Teton National Park. Many of them quite daringly decided to fully swim in Taggart Lake–an alpine lake fed by snowmelt!

The next day students spent an hour and half with Justina, a woman who teaches self defense. They learned elements of jiu jitsu including strikes and rolls.

The following days were full of classes, and cooking and baking for each other. Nell made two lemon meringue pies, a honey cinnamon pie, and a chocolate mousse pie, which we all eagerly ate. Maylie and Patricia made chapati and squash soup for dinner the same night Nell made pies, and the next night Maylie and Ella made latkes and matzo ball soup. We were cozy and well fed. The mountain tops had a dusting of snow on our final morning in Wyoming, signaling it was time to continue towards the high desert. 

After two full days of driving we arrived at Capitol Reef Field Station, which is nestled in the east side of the park next to the Fremont river and looking out at the Henry mountains. We hiked through a wash with canyon walls on either side that led to a lookout point over the national park. After the hike, we went to the visitor center where some students enthusiastically set out to become junior rangers. They successfully completed the junior ranger badge after they went to a ranger talk, where a ranger shared about the geologic history of the park. Did you know the Navajo Sandstone formation is from when Utah was covered with sand dunes (much like the current-day Sahara Desert), or that the dunes are believed to be deposition from the ancient Appalachian range? We didn’t!

We lucked out with our host at CRFS, Michael, who took us on an additional geology hike. We learned the holes in the rock walls are called tophony; and that the nickname for the kayenta rock formation is the “veggie ledgy.” He also showed us class two petroglyphs and pictographs (class 2 means employees of the park only show them to visitors if they ask for the panel by name). During this hike we saw bobcat prints! 

Additionally, Micheal shared his astronomy knowledge with us and gave us a star show. We got to use the telescope at CRFS and looked at Jupiter, Saturn, the moon, and the Andromeda Galaxy. He used a laser to show us a plethora of constellations. While Micheal shared an abundance of place-based knowledge with us, I think what students loved most was that he had two kittens that they got to meet and dote on. 

We are cozied up for midterms outside of Capitol Reef where students have beds with pillows, sheets, comforters, and extra quilts – a true luxury! They are all looking forward to canyoneering after midterms and continuing to build a caring, curious, and adventurous community. – Malia Bertelsen 

P.S. Time moves fast! Since finishing this blog a week ago, the group has been canyoneering near Hanksville, Utah, and spent time on a working farm in Paonia. More updates on those recent adventures to come! And just like that, the semester is now halfway through their fifteen weeks.