Environmental and Geological Field Studies in the Rockies!

Complete photos here:

SoCo 2012





Following the intense summer trip, I was happy to get back outside for one of my favorite trips. Every September, I help teach a field course for sophomores. My advisor, Page Chamberlain, has been leading these trips for 25 years.

Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park

Still culture-shocked and with a lot to chew on after my Mongolia and Pamir expedition, I drove out with several other teaching assistants from California to Salt Lake where our trip begins.

Students estimate the power generated at Wyoming’s largest windfarm (43,000 homes from just 80 turbines).

Matt shoots some clays outside Dubois, WY before our trip into the Wind Rivers

The trip goes by in thirds. During the first week, we hiked in to a base camp in the Wind River Range and taught orienteering, geologic mapping, early earth history and the carbon cycle.

Hiking into the Winds. Yep, that’s an upright bass! We camp and jam in style.

Page begins lectures on earth system history beginning with the big bang

Bomber Basin, Wind River Range

During the second portion of the trip, we camped in Grand Teton National Park, and studied stream chemistry, plate tectonics and the evolution of western North America. We spent a few days doing roadside geology in Yellowstone.

Extremophiles give rich colors to the Grand Prismatic Spring, Midway Geyser Basin, Yellowstone

I also managed to squeeze in a couple fun, easy climbs in the Tetons during our short break in Jackson. First, I headed with Dan, who’d climbed the Grand Teton last year with me, and Jake up Cube Point above Jenny Lake.

Morning light on Teewinot Mountain, Grand Teton National Park. Jackson is completely obscured by smoke.

The next day, Annalisa and I got an early start to climb Teewinot Mountain. In the crisp darkness, we hiked between herds of bugling elk, before alpenglow lit up the world around us. As we ascended, we left the awful smoke from the many nearby fires. A few hours of climbing and scrambling on steep but clean rock brought us to Teewinot’s summit…such a small perch beneath the Grand Teton and Mount Owen that only one of us could stand on top at once.

Annalisa climbs roped as the route steepens. She absolutely flew up the complicated terrain.

I descend off the tiny summit block with the Grand Teton behind. What a beautiful day!

The last part of the trip has historically gone to the rough miner town of Cooke City, MT, just outside of Yellowstone, but this year we tried something new. The group went to the Sage Creek Basin in southwestern Montana to see the type of research we do. We ended up going to several areas we’ve studied in the past, and students helped collect samples that will contribute to our ongoing efforts to better constrain the history of climate and topography in North America.

Alexis and Mike check out petrified trees, Sage Creek Basin, MT

And as always, we brought instruments and played some good music. It was so wonderful to get some time to camp in a less stressful setting than this summer with a great group of TAs and students. Thanks guys!

Aah, camping! I had a blast reconnecting with my piano and jamming with the band.