Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Navigation and Animal Tracking


Today breakfast started at the usual 8am, but this morning we had a special breakfast of French toast cooked by Brian. An hour later we were met here at the ranch by Adam, a wilderness biologist who specializes in Canadian Lynx. After introducing himself Adam started the day with a map exercise, where in groups of three we found our location and an interesting feature of each map (some were topographical, some focused on parks, and one showed fire scars in the land). Once well oriented with our location, we stepped outside and learned how to use two-piece compasses. On each compass there was the standard base with the turning dial as well as a hood with a split mirror inside and a guide-point at the top. Despite its relatively intimidating appearance, the compasses were easy to use; we were able to identify a mountain in the distance and place it on a map.


After learning the basics of how to use a compass, we went out for a drive on the North Fork Road. As we drove north towards the Canadian border, we encountered several whitetail deer and mule deer. We made several stops and foraged into the woods without our snowshoes. During our first stop, we climbed down a steep hill to the edge of a ridge above a river and we were able to see animal tracks across said river. Adam walked us through the steps of identifying animal tracks and we were able to guess that the tracks were most likely belonged to a beaver. For our second stop, we foraged into a young forest, as older trees had been burnt down during the Roberts Fire and new ones were just popping up. We were able to find two sets of animal tracks. The first was that of a snowshoe hare; those tracks were parallel to the tracks of an animal, which Adam would later identify as a coyote. As we walked back to the vans, we were able to spot several moose along the north face of a mountain. On our drive up the North Fork Road, we encountered more deer and we were able to see how all of our lessons tied together, as we were able to identify avalanche paths, poor forestry maintenance, and the effects of forest fires. We would eventually turn back four miles from the Canadian border and head back to the lodge where we would have orange chicken stir-fry for dinner and later watch the Shining to wrap up the day.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Anatomy of Trees and Lumber Production


After eating a hearty breakfast of oatmeal, bacon, and eggs, we met with Rick from the Montana Department of Natural Resources. Rick introduced us to certain statistics concerning the Forest Industry and then we went out on a snowshoe hike around the property. On the hike, Rick pointed out several trees native to the land, with an emphasis on lodge pole pine. Rick discussed the dangers of monoculture in the forests and furthermore several diseases which affect the trees and spread in the park. To demonstrate the trees condition and age, he tapped several different trees, and we were able to look at life rings, thus able to determine age and spurts of growth. Likewise, he discussed the dangers of over population and clear-cutting. After showing us a portion of land which had been thinned by the Forest Service, Rick was quick to assure us that while the Forest Service does not make the correct decisions all the time, they are forced to make difficult decisions to protect the land and that the forest industry is often a gray area. We concluded our walk on the property by creating our paths back to the lodge and prepared to head to the Cross-laminated Timber Factory.

After our snowshoe hike around the property, we returned to the lodge for lunch inside and then drove over to the Cross-Laminated Timber Factory. There, we spoke to the founder of the Cross-Laminated Timber Company, Smartlam. He spoke to us about the many benefits of Cross-Laminated Timber, known as CLT, such as stability, fire-resistance, durability, and how cost-effective it is. After his presentation, we were given a tour of the factory. On the tour we saw the whole process of how the CLT is made. We saw their system of finger jointing, compression, cutting, and adhesion. After the tour of the factory, we also were able to see a wood stove that heated the facility with the leftover scraps of wood and then we were shown the area where they perform quality control tests. They test the adhesion by using a press to pull apart the wood, in hopes of it breaking with fibers instead of along the adhesions. Once the tour of the factory was complete, we drove from the warehouse to a property where they had installed multiple buildings using CLT. Overall, we were able to learn about an industry very new to the United 

Monday, January 9, 2017

A Recap of Sunday and Monday

Sunday, 1/8/17


Yesterday we learned about avalanches at The Whitefish Mountain.  The experience began with a compelling journey on a ski lift to the summit.  The ride forever solidified my perception of my teacher’s true nature.   This experience was truly remarkable, as I had never made so deep a connection with a teacher over something like fear.   As he sat directly next to me, I exposed my true nature and decided to try and bully the fear out of him.  Through numerous tactics, I was successful in my attempts to further scare him.  All in all, this was a memorable ride. 


Once we reached the summit, the learning truly began.  Following a series of presentations concerning various aspects of avalanches, including triggering factors and what constitutes an appropriate response to an actual avalanche.  After the lectures concluded, we moved to into the field, and took part in activates at two stations.  The first consisted of practicing digging in the snow to experience the true weight of accumulated snow.  We were then shown how to test a column of snow to test its avalanche risk.  Moving on to the second station, we were able to practice using a transponder to locate someone under the snow.  The process was complex, utilizing a series of increasingly fine grids to locate the buried person.  This concluded our education atop the mountain, and the ride down was just as impactful as the ride up had been.  All in all, Sunday was an incredibly informative and unique day. 

Monday, 1/9/17


Today we awoke to find a fresh blanket of snow.  Two red buses arrived at our lodgings and conveyed us to a large barn.  This barn, we learned, housed thirty-three other such buses, which were used primarily to transport tourists throughout Glacier National Park.  Each bus was coated in the same shade of red paint—Glacier red—the hue of which resembled a particular red berry found in Glacier National Park.  Each bus had six wheels, fifteen lights, and sixteen windows.  After we were shown the buses, we were treated to a presentation regarding bus tours, and we heard a few local ghost stories.  Briefly, we watched a film about trains, and we ate lunch.  Though we did not spend any time exploring the wilderness, we were exposed to an interesting aspect of Glacier Park.


After we ate lunch at the Red Bus Barn, we went to an art museum in the heart of Kalispell. The first little exhibit that we toured through was full of beautiful water- color, all done by one artist. Our tour guide pointed out artwork that was originally hanging in the Plains Indian Museum, where we had visited with Jack a few days earlier. She said that the paintings were not allowed to hang in the Plains museum, because although they were of traditional Blackfeet Indians, a registered member of the Blackfeet did not paint them. We then went into a gallery, which was in the newer extension of the art gallery (originally a library). This gallery was full of artwork that specifically reflected Glacier National Park and it’s beautiful scenery. We saw an original painting by Charlie Russell, whom we again learned about from Jack at the reservation. After our tour of the artwork, we made our own “one page sketchbooks.” We took one large piece of paper and folded it, cut a small slit, and folded it again until we had our very own little sketch book, where we sketched a piece of artwork that we saw in the exhibit. Overall, the museum gave us even more information on the Blackfeet Indians, and the artists who painted the beauty of Glacier National Park.  

Saturday, January 7, 2017

A stroll through Glacier National Park


Today, we trekked across the great landscape of Glacier National Park, specifically, Macdonald Lake and Anna & Josh’s cabin there. We snowshoed pretty far, about an hour and 15 minutes, and then trekked the whole way back, resulting in around a 2:30 hour hike. The hike was a blast! I was with Alex a majority of the time (as always), and he kept flat tiring me with his snowshoes. It eventually got super annoying, and I tried to push him into the snow, but he didn’t fall, but I did. Not only that, but This was all quite fun, and the whole squad had a blast! Many pictures were taken, as always, and I successfully stayed silent 9 mins and 52 seconds! HOW COULD I FORGET????? IT WAS MR KELLY’S BIRTHDAY TODAY!!!! WE SANG HAPPY BIRTHDAY A TOTAL OF ABOUT 19 TIMES! Happy birthday Mr. Kelly! After writing this blog, I’m almost positive we’re going to the hot tub (first time on this trip!) Soooo yeah! Have a great day EA parents!


We also learned about avalanches. Our speaker today, Zach, told us about the causes of avalanches and how we can prevent, prepare, and determine how to deal with avalanches. Apparently there are many different ways to trigger an avalanche and also different types of avalanches. The different types of avalanches refer to the composition of the snow; they can be dry, wet, slab, and soft avalanches. Soft avalanches are like powder slides whereas wet avalanches are where there are large chunks of snow that come traveling down also. Ways to be safe and be rescued in avalanches are by using a beacon and also carrying a snow probe and shovel. This allows people to find you and also allows you to find people and dig them out.

Friday, January 6, 2017

A day with the legendary Jack Gladstone and the Blackfeet Reservation

Jack – Jan. 6 2016
This morning we woke up at the crack of dawn and ate a filling breakfast of oatmeal and bagels. Then we circled up around the crackling fire. Brian and Chill led the discussion of expedition mentality and how to act properly in a different culture, we would later use this information when traveling on the Blackfoot Indian reservation. Jack Gladstone arrived at around 8:00 am and explained the history and culture of his tribe through both song and lecture. Jack taught us about his heritage and his parents as well as how he embraces his culture in the advancing world we live in. We then quickly packed up and rushed to the vans to evade the cold weather and drove for a little over an hour to the museum. 


There we discovered all about the Blackfoot tribe through watching a short documentary and also viewing their detailed artwork and dress. Walking through the museum enabled us to really experience how they live. After this stop, we traveled to Cutswood school, a non-profit organization that teaches children, kindergarten through eighth, how to sign and speak the Blackfoot language. We attempted to play native games which have been used in their culture for many years, including sports similar to lacrosse and hockey. Two native men taught us the simple signs that the Blackfoot have used to communicate. Next we traveled to an art gallery, which sold native paintings and art created by the locals. Right outside of that building there was an unbelievable view where we took many photos right before the sunset. When we arrived back at the lodge, we were given a superb meal cooked by Jack’s fiancé which included bison, elk, and venison. And finally, before we all crashed into bed, Jack sang us some of his songs which he had written himself about the park and stories that his relatives had passed down to him.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Day 1: A Little Walk Outside

Nate – Jan. 5 2016
Today started out pretty slow. Rising for our bagel and oats breakfast at 8:30. However, our trip started much earlier. The previous night after we arrived around 5 o’clock we had a delicious chicken burrito meal and entered our first of many group meetings. The main event of the night was the water tossing; we boiled water and tossed it off the porch and into the -7 degree air. A cloud of snow shortly followed in the waters path. We learned that in these meetings we discuss the following day (what to bring, wear, etc.). After our morning meeting and breakfast, we suited up, packed our lunches and fitted our snowshoes ready to tackle the hike ahead of us throughout the Green Valley Ranch.


Soon after getting used to our new snowshoes, we started to walk down the path. This was our first time being out in the cold for a longer stretch of time, so several of us took some to adjust layers adequately. We eventually arrived at the top of a hill, looking down about 30 feet in to a little valley filled with pine trees. We were then introduced to this quote: “There is pleasure in the pathless woods”. We then made our own path into the bottom of the valley. After descending into the valley, we snowshoe to a beautiful frozen lake. It was incredible; the lake was surrounded by pine trees, with an amazing mountain backdrop. We ate lunch at the lake and then returned to our lodge. After arriving we watched a video about fire watchtowers in Montana, and read old newspapers about the forest fires around glacier in 2003. We shared each of our articles, and then ate mac and cheese with chicken and salad for dinner.