Shannon Lynch: My Happy Place

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“Even when I’m a thousand miles away from my roots, I’m home.”

-Zac Brown Band

Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey with not many things to do and always wanting to be elsewhere, it was hard to find a sense of place and home there. Since moving out West four years ago, I’ve moved three times, Colorado, Nevada, and now Montana—each place feeling more like home than the previous. I’m not quite sure if Montana is the place, but I’m okay with that, I have plenty left to explore.

Jumping into a six-week course that explored the Crown of the Continent, I was excited to get to know places I’d never been to. The Crown of the Continent includes northern Montana, Alberta, and British Columbia.  And I love it. Plans have changed on the fly—rerouted backpacking trips due to flooding and recent forest fires—but that’s okay, life is always changing things up.

School hasn’t been the easiest journey for me. I’m dyslexic and have reading and writing comprehension issues. This course is challenging. Getting up at 7 am, having class at 8, then tossing on a 60lb pack and hiking 7 miles to our next destination to then read 50 pages that night, can be tiring. But when I’m in nature learning clicks for me.

Walking through and learning about my surroundings suits me better than merely reading about it.  I came into this trip not knowing any tree species. Within two weeks, I can easily spot a Western Larch, Lodge-Pole Pine, White Bark Pine, Engelmann Spruce, and so on. I had never backpacked prior to this and three weeks in, I have my daily backpacking routine down, such as how to organize and fit my pack properly. It has been rewarding to see how far I’ve come academically and physically.  I feel a sense of pride of my accomplishments. This sense of pride has been boosting my mental health.

My mental health tends to drop in school since my way of learning doesn’t fit into the “traditional” educational system. My academic struggles are not fun to deal with and can be discouraging at times.  But an outdoor classroom doesn’t have the same distractions as an indoor one, such as a kid in front of you on his laptop watching Netflix or the girl texting on her phone having an argument with her boyfriend. The outdoor classroom may have a nosey chipmunk or an Osprey diving into the lake looking for breakfast. Many of these distractions provide teachable moments. Being able to sit at an alpine lake, enjoying its beauty and enjoying my reading is very calming because I’m absorbing more out here. This course has shown me that I can progress in school and my grades so far have been proving so.

One of our guest speakers, who teaches at the Blackfeet Community College, is also an advocate for experiential education.  She said that the Blackfeet value it for their growing process. As Helen said, “how can you be in it and not outside?” Words on paper can only do so much justice.

Really getting to know this place and the people in it has made it feel like home. Finding a sense of place in a country I’ve never been to is exciting. As we have learned in class, hundreds of species and different environments all have a connection together. As I learn more and explore new places, I find new connections to these places. I like the NorthFace tagline, “Never Stop Exploring”, and use it as a motto for myself. As I keep exploring on this course, it’s refreshing to be connected to new territories and call them home. I am satisfied knowing that “Even when I’m a thousand miles away from my roots, I’m home.”

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Alyssa Swartz: Wilderness Defined Differently

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No one wants to carry around an encyclopedia in their 75 liter pack through the Scapegoat Wilderness. Even if I did want to carry around my phone, there is no service for Siri to look up definitions for me. Therefore I am challenged to create my own definition of “Wilderness.” With assistance of my WRFI reader, I have carefully crafted my own personal definition that I can only hope meets the standards of my naturalist predecessors.

Bob Marshall in his 1930 essay “The Problem of Wilderness” spoke of wilderness as “a region which contains no permanent inhabitants, possesses no possibility of convergence by mechanical means, and is sufficiently spacious that a person in crossing it must have the experience of sleeping out.” Over the past week, I have been honored to backpack through the Helena National Forest and Scapegoat Wilderness, part of a series of interconnected wilderness areas named after Bob Marshall himself. He was a pioneer, with inspiring insight and thoughts about the American landscape beyond his time.

A more recent thinker who also tackles ideas about wilderness is the writer Christopher Ketcham. In his recent article in Orion Magazine, called “Taming the Wilderness,” he writes: “Wilderness is intended, among its other purposes, to be a refuge for wild animals and plants, where the processes of evolution, so far as we humans have observed them, are to remain unmolested and unhampered.” Ketcham also defines wilderness as “difficult to reach and explore, sometimes dangerous to life and limb.” Through his writings, Ketcham inspires me to expand my own definition of the natural world and of wilderness. We must acknowledge that we have not been “humble or responsible.” This realization has led me to a passion for stepping up and advocating for the stewarding of our public lands and wilderness.

In addition to Marshall and Ketcham, other naturalist writers have contributed to my personal definition of wilderness, including Thomas Lowe Fleischner and the novelist Wallace Stegner. These two authors had powerful remarks about loving the natural world we are surrounded by, and fighting for what is left of it. Both encourage acceptance of what is, but also of what can be. While they don’t deny that there are serious environmental problems, they both encourage us to strive beyond the status quo. They both want us to better the wilderness in every possible way. Thomas Lowe Fleischner states “a known and loved world has more effective advocates than one that is ignored.” Wallace Stegner writes, “Better a wounded wilderness than none at all.” These wise words have provoked in me my own, unique definition of wilderness.

Now with you I share my vision of Wilderness:

Wilderness: A home to plants and animals that did not earn our respect, but simply deserve our respect through their existence. A natural area that allows humans to escape, find solitude, and practice mindfulness. A home and refuge that must be protected and fought for by the naturalists and passionate advocates, few in number, but strong in heart.

My definition of Wilderness draws on perspectives from both science and philosophy. To me, my definition is pure, honest, and valuable. The opportunity to temporarily live in a Wilderness, as I am right now, forces me to practice being a steward of this earth. It forces us, as humans, to open our eyes to how small we are in the scheme of all beings. These vast landscapes allow me to dream bigger, reach higher, and advocate for the land that sustains us.

Although my journey to find and perfect the definition of Wilderness is just beginning, I hope and dream that with every passing night, I find more of myself among these lands; I want my dreams to soar, just as the towering Lodgepole Pines reach for the sky. They are my guides. For now I thank the Wilderness for humbling me, empowering me, and allowing me to let my light shine.

Ryan Feidt: What I’ve learned from a Great Blue Heron

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As I awaken in the early morning, I look to the east; the sun just barely peaking over the horizon. The sky is lit with reds, pinks, oranges, and yellows. There is a sweet smell of coffee brewing in my stove. I look off into the distance and wonder about my day to come. What will I see as I canoe down the Green River? How many millions of years’ worth of rock layers will I travel through? What animals will I encounter? I ask these questions because I am practicing natural history. Thomas Fleischner, a professor at Prescott College, defines natural history as “a practice of intentional focused attentiveness and receptivity to the more-then-human world, guided by honesty and accuracy.”

“The fact that we have to make an intentional effort to practice natural history says a lot about the disconnect of our species” (WRFI instructor James Mauch, 2018). The average worker must make time to explore nature. But, do they make the time? Do you? Do you take the time to be observant enough to wonder about what is happening around you? If you don’t, you should; it’s worth every second you put into it. Sometimes you can discover something magical like I did.

A long day has passed as we paddle into camp. A brand-new camp, not only to us students, but to the instructors as well. Nobody has been at this camp in a very long time. This is evident because the footsteps in the sand are covered in rain drop impressions, it hasn’t rained in a month. There are two cottonwood trees just close enough together where I put up my hammock to sleep for the night. I take a seat and admire the evening light reflecting off the west-facing Navajo sandstone canyon wall. Never will a canyon wall look so beautiful as it does in the light of a setting sun. As I sit in my hammock drinking hot cocoa and finish my readings, the sun has fully set to reveal the blanket of stars shining in the dark sky. I gaze at the sky for a few minuets then snuggle into my sleeping bag and lay for the night. I have nothing but the sound of silence as I finally start to fall asleep. Then there is a noise. I am awoken with the sound of heavy wings flapping no more then perhaps a few feet away. I can tell this bird is large; is it going to land on me? It lets out a cry so loud and so edgy, that I can only think a pterodactyl is about to land on me. It’s time to investigate. I emerge from my slumber and look around. I don’t see anything. Another cry, this time louder and scarier. I look up and see the shadow of a Great Blue Heron. This is a bird I’m familiar with in the Midwest, but the desert? In a nest?

To think if I didn’t take the time to observe what was happening around me, I wouldn’t have known that Great Blue Herons lived in the desert. Herons are dependent of aquatic ecosystems, so I figured a desert, where there is limited water, wouldn’t house a bird like the Great Blue Heron. I now know that riparian areas, like the narrow strip along the Green River, are the exception. It is experiences like this that encourage me to practice natural history. Because the practice of natural history helps us connect with the environment around us, everyone should take the time to observe their surroundings. So, I encourage you to eat your lunch outside, go for a walk in the park, or just take a minute to stand outside your front door and use all your senses to cultivate your sense of wonder.

Brianna Rykken: A Day Behind Glazed Eyes

Bri blog 2 photoWith this piece I am portraying two of the values of the wilderness; accessing the concrete, physical attributes that surround you and the reflective thought that they provoke. Some choose to see value in what is before their eyes whereas others find value in the opportunity to explore what goes on behind them. I have found the two to be more connected than one may think. Here is a day in the two intertwined realities that wilderness inspires.

                The day began heading down into Woodenshoe Canyon. The crisp morning chill was still in the air but the hot desert sun was making its way into our skin. This canyon is immediately different than the previous trips. There is a cleared, single-file trail for one! Also, a new rock layer is present, the Cedar Mesa Sandstone. It switches back and fourth from a deep red to a muddy white. It is home to many more tree than we have seen before. There are so many trees! Ponderosa, Pinons, Junipers. Everything is so green. It feels so alive.

Everything is green. It feels so alive.
I haven’t thought that since I was back home in Minnesota.
I wonder how everything is back home. I haven’t had much thought
of my family, we have been so busy. How are my parents? My sister
graduates soon. I am so excited to see them again.
Everything is green. It feels so alive.

                Camp is finally in vision. Hips are red from where packs rested all day. The wash near our site is dry but walking upstream, a vibrate swamp comes into vision. There are scattered pools throughout. The water is covered in a fine layer of pollen, but for tonight it will have to do. There are little flowers everywhere. The Naturalist Guide says they are Carpet Phlox. Nearing camp, there are tracks in the mud. There are bear prints! They have five short toes. This one must have been huge! It is so nice to be back in the wilderness.

It is so nice to be back in the wilderness.
What exactly is wilderness? Thomas Fleischner think it is where we
fall in love with the world. Wallace Stegner thinks it is simply an idea that
keeps him going. Funny how he sits at a desk and thinks about the
wilderness whereas I sit in the wilderness and think about him.
Its so nice to be back in the wilderness.

                Class begins in the late afternoon. The canyon walls rise high above us, forming the boundaries of the Dark Canyon Wilderness. The reading for today was The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature by William Cronon. “Wilderness, in short, was a place to which one came only against one’s will, and always in fear and trembling.” Why did they see things so differently?

Why did they see things so differently?
It’s a fair excuse, they didn’t know any better. I wonder who it is in
todays world who is so unable to see. Is it the miners? Or the environmentalists?
Or is it me?
Why did they see things so differently?

                The buttes around us glow under the setting sun, signaling that the day is coming to an end. A chill is creeping back into the air. Its smells of fresh pine. It is time to start tonight’s reading. Land management of Bears Ears National Monument is the focus. The administration justified this change by stating that the Monument was not “confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected…” as the Antiquities Act states, although this matter is still in litigation. It also stated that “Public lands will again be for public use.”

Public land will again be for public use.
Does this mean the workers who want the land for its resources?
What about the Native Americans who revere the land for its
sacredness? Or simply the hikers who love the land for its beauty? Is it
crazy to imagine that one day we could all see eye to eye?
Public land will again be for public use.

                The night has gone cold. One by one, the illuminating lights of headlamps are turned into darkness. The silence is only occasionally broken by the wind blowing through the trees and the deep breathes of the slumbering creatures who fill Woodenshoe Canyon tonight. The world is lit by a sliver of light brought by the infinite number of stars.

Sarah Bartz: Layer by Layer

layer by layerAs our group sits beneath the glow of the evening sky, the smell of a warm peanut butter, soy sauce, brown sugar, veggie, and rice noodle feast wafts around us. It is our first night back in the wilderness after a quick resupply in Hanksville, and I am happy to be immersed in the backcountry of the canyons once again. This section will allow us to take a deeper look into some of the different rock formations we journey through during our time on the Colorado Plateau.

“What is something you all feel a strong connection to,” asks Bri. Savoring our first few bites of dinner, we contemplate the question. Tonight marks our 16th dinner together, and each night the cooks of the day have come up with a new topic for the group to discuss while we eat.

“I have always felt a deep passion for music,” says Keagan. “Good things always seem to come my way when I’m out of my comfort zone,” states Madison. “I feel most at peace when I’m outdoors,” adds Sierra. Around the circle we go, revealing the things our minds are drawn to and gaining insight on each other’s lives.

Beginning our journey down Horseshoe Canyon, and now continuing it through a section of the Dirty Devil River Canyon, through dinner chats (serious and light hearted) and by experiencing this landscape together, we are slowly exposing our inner selves. As we discover more about one another, we are also building our knowledge and observations of the ancient rocks that surround and intrigue us.

The WRFI trailer shudders around us from the force of a 50 mph sandy wind storm. Unlike anything we have experienced before, there is nothing to do but huddle together and take in the power of the Colorado Plateau. On our breezy descent into the Dirty Devil River Canyon, we begin a more in depth identification of the different formations of sandstone we see. Dave points out the top layer we will be studying. This dark, reddish-brown cap rock (being harder than the rock below it) is known as the Carmel Formation, and is the youngest of the rocks I will be discussing. It was created around 160 million years ago during a time of shallow seas transitioning from marine to continental landscape. Similarly to the way in which the Carmel layer holds and protects the layers beneath it from the elements, sitting upon this first layer’s crust brought us closer as we protected and comforted each other from the elements of a desert wind storm.

The Carmel Formation is much thinner than the rest of the layers and we quickly spot and discuss our next type of sandstone. Making our way down the remaining sloping cliffs to the river below, we trek across gritty slickrock and over ledges of vegetation.

Upon reaching the base of the canyon, we wade into the cool, cloudy river beneath smooth, tan cliffs of Navajo Sandstone. Distinct groupings of lines travel along the walls with us. These markings, known as cross bedding, tell us this rock was formed by the compression of ancient sand dunes. The particles of sand that formed this layer are said to have blown all the way from the ancient Appalachian Mountains and were likely part of the largest dune field in the history of the planet. Erosion of this layer creates many amphitheaters and alcoves with beautiful acoustics, which gave me the confidence to push past some of my self-consciousness and sing from my soul for the group.

Slowly making our way down the river, feet occasionally getting stuck in the gooey sediment, we start to notice a new geologic formation emerging beneath the Navajo. Darker reddish-brown tones sparkle amongst chunky, box-like walls with layered, ledgy swoops and curves. The Kayenta Sandstone that unfolds around us originates from the deposition of perennial rivers flowing from the ancient Rocky Mountains. Its erosion in uneven patterns creates many small shelves for vegetation. I enjoy this layer because with some imagination you can pick out figures and faces in the sides of the old, textured rock.

After a long day of hiking, we set up camp and spend another night sleeping amongst the stars. The morning sun of another cloudless day leads us further down river, exposing us to the vast cliffs and alcoves of the Wingate Sandstone. Similar to Navajo, this layer was also formed by ancient sand dunes, except these geologic masterpieces hold compacted sand from past North-West American regions. Tall, sheer, reddish-tan walls showcase a key feature to this layer- sporadically placed and grouped swiss cheese-like holes known as “tafoni.” Wingate’s tafoni are caused by the high porosity of its interior particles, allowing water to seep through and erode small to large, varying shaped caverns on its face. These holes remind me of miniature, mystical elven cities carved into the side of a hill and make this my favorite layer of sandstone we’ve seen thus far.

Desert varnish is also very visible on Wingate Sandstone. Its black/grey streaks down the cliff wall result from the minerals manganese and iron oxide mixing with water, and can be seen throughout nearly all the layers of rock I discuss.

Nearing the end of our 7th day on the Dirty Devil River, Chinle Sandstone begins to reveal itself. This geologic layer varies widely in texture, shape, and color. It holds reddish brown boxlike layers with edgy grooves (similar to Kayenta) to purple, green, grey, yellow, blue crumbly walls mixed with conglomerate rocks. Its wide range of formations and differential erosion is attributed to its varying depositional environments, including marshes, rivers, and seas. We found an abundance of petrified wood while walking through this layer, and its uranium stores have been of great mining interest throughout the years.

As we continue the rest of our way down the canyon, we encounter additional formations of Moenkopi and White Rim Sandstone. These are the oldest rock we have seen, formed around 250 million years ago. I run my hands along their surfaces and can feel the immense natural history and wisdom they hold.

Similar to the particles that form the ancient rocks around us, each of us on this journey come from a variety of landscapes and histories. The more time we spend together in these canyons, the greater understanding we have of each other and the environment around us. By immersing myself in the many layers of geology here and the people experiencing them with me, I begin to discover the different layers that form myself as well.

Madison Pettersen-Bradford: Arid Adaptations

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My wristwatch alarm goes off at 7:30 a.m. I am snuggled up to my two other tent buddies buried deep in my sleeping bag with a hat, long underwear, and Smartwool socks on up to my knees. My legs and arms are squeezed up close to my body as I gather the courage to get out of my sleeping bag into the cold desert air so that I could get dressed, eat breakfast and get ready for the day.

1, 2, 3! I rip open my sleeping bag with my limbs still glued to my body while I do a little foot dance/body wiggle until I find my clothes. I quickly throw on my clothes and awkwardly dance to warm up as I walk to the boiling water where my group members are chatting about their body temperatures during the night while eating oatmeal.

Don’t worry, it got warmer that day and I stopped my cold dancing.

Every night is different but eventually I figured out the best attire for the coldest nights. My formula: long underwear + hat + Smartwool socks + rain pants + crazy creek chair under my sleeping pad (for extra insulation) + and finally, my favorite item, which we so rightly named “the second sleeping bag” (a knee length down parka) = warm and cozy night. So there, I adapted. It wasn’t comfortable, I had some cold nights, but I figured it out. The best thing about my system is that there are layers, so if I get hot I can take it off. I can tell you, though, that barely ever happens.

Adaptation in the desert happens in a similar way. Over time, much longer than the couple of weeks I spent figuring out my perfect sleeping attire, plants and animals will adapt to the changes around them. For example, if the environment becomes increasingly dry, the plants that find a way to conserve or find water in some way will survive and reproduce until all of those plants are adapted to the new environment. In the end, the plants will be well suited to their changing environment. Take the cactus, a commonly known desert plant, over a significant amount of time the plant was able to store water in its body as it waited for the next rain. If it rained significantly, the cactus might even immediately grow new roots to trap more water. Additionally, the recognizable spines on the plant are not just a defense mechanism against other animals, but a strategic way to not lose too much water to evaporation which would happen if the cactus had “normal” leaves. Adaptation is not an easy process. It takes many years for a plant to “figure out” how to live in its ever-changing world and many plants don’t make the cut. So then, despite its difficulty, adaptation is necessary for survival.

But adaptation is not just limited to me being cold and the cactus staying hydrated. In the desert, all plants and animals are constantly adapting. Contrary to what I once thought, the desert has a variety of mini ecosystems throughout, each plant and animal filling some niche in the landscape. Backpacking, especially in a group, seems to simulate this pattern. Each person is filling a role in our group so that we can work together efficiently and effectively, kind of like what happens in an ecosystem. Somebody gets the water. Somebody navigates. Someone cracks jokes. Someone has an insane amount of knowledge. Each of us contributing and pushing as we work together to explore the canyons, adapting to any challenges we may face.

Water is one of the most limiting factors in the desert. Much of the adaptations in the desert have revolved around limited access to water. Some plants, like cottonwoods and willows like to “set up camp” near water flows in canyons so they have constant access (much like us backpackers) whereas other plants enjoy constant sunlight, like the narrow leaf yucca, or even prefer growing in rocks, like the round leaf buffalo berry. My point is that it is necessary for the organisms of the desert to adapt to their environment, in the face of competition from other organisms, in order to survive.

As I have alluded to before, I have had to adapt to this desert as well. I don’t have all the luxuries I have at home like food, water, clothes and other things at my disposal. Some days are challenging and overwhelming because I’ve never been exposed to this environment before, but I have been pushing through because I get to experience something so fragile and rare and cool.

Adaptation doesn’t just apply to camping in the desert or being an organism in the desert but can apply to anything one does. Although challenging, by adapting one can experience something they never thought possible. Maybe even think in a new way. In our ever-changing world it is ever more important to be able to adapt in thought and action.

Sierra Deimling: The Hunt for Attentiveness

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If you’re a WRFI student meandering down Horseshoe Canyon and it happens to be both Easter and April Fool’s Day, consider yourself lucky.  We departed our sandstone haven of a campsite and headed down the canyon that special holiday morning, eager to explore more of the canyon’s wonders.  As we walked I pondered my reading from earlier that week. Practicing natural history was something I had never heard of prior to reading Thomas Fleischner’s essay “Natural History and the Spiral of Offering.”  Becoming a natural historian requires “intentional focused attentiveness and receptivity to the more than human world.” I was too caught up in trying to implement Fleischner’s idea into my hike to suspect any Easter of April Fool’s affiliated mischief from my instructors.

WRFI instructors Dave and Ryan have been helping us practice natural history by creating activities centered around one of eight principles of natural history.  The principles include attentiveness, reciprocity, expression, vision, accuracy, humility, affirmation, and gratitude. The activities have undoubtedly been the most pleasant school assignments I’ve ever been given.  One day our group sat silently at the head of Horseshoe Canyon as Dave instructed us to focus on just one of our senses for several minutes to teach us attentiveness. We listened to the chirps of the canyon wren. We felt the damp sand grind between our sore toes.  We smelled the stagnant pool of water littered with juniper berries and pine needles. We saw the Earth hold us like tiny fish in an enormous bowl. So, yeah, natural history assignments don’t suck.

We continued to descend the canyon and my mind wandered from natural history to Easter eggs and family.  My family spends Easter in the wild, and while I was stoked to be with WRFI, I was missing the Deimling Easter egg hunt.  My stomach sadly growled at the thought of my sister ripping into Cadbury Eggs while I crunched on more stale granola.

Dave and Ryan stopped us at the bottom of a draw to give us our natural history activity of the day, focusing on the principle of receptivity.  We were to walk up the draw and stop every 20-ish steps to do part of a yoga sun salutation, involving sweeping our hands high to the sky and down to the earth.  I slowly cruised up the draw and did everything I could to be receptive, not once thinking anything suspicious of the activity. You can imagine I was quite taken aback hearing another student scream they found a chocolate egg.

A scale large enough to measure my stoke upon realizing I had been tricked into going on an Easter egg hunt does not exist.  Picture hiking through the desert for days, where both water and chocolate are extremely scarce, only to find candy in a prickly pear cactus!  Discovering a juniper tree decorated in Hershey’s reminded me of a hunt my parents would set up. I was ecstatic.

Of the eight principles of natural history, three were particularly relevant to our surprise hunt, with attentiveness being the most obvious.  If someone else didn’t yell that they found candy, it’s likely I would have made it up the draw completely unaware that I was flanked by treats.  Realizing how unattentive I had been made me wonder what else I had missed during the course. How many wildflowers have been ignored in my pathway?  How many lizards have darted across my toes while I wasn’t looking? How many shooting stars have been shielded by the shelter of my sleeping bag? I don’t want to miss candy in the desert, but I especially don’t want to miss these special natural phenomenons.

A second principle the hunt helped me embody was our word of the day, receptivity.  To be clear, I did not conclude that if you successfully practice natural history the land will offer you processed sugar.  The meditative portion of the hunt helped me receive endless opportunities to connect with the land. I receive astonishment from watching incandescent sandstone pierce the crystal blue sky.  I receive a sense of caution from pricking my finger on a petite barrel cactus. I receive clarity from looking at the fragile ecosystem as a whole and remember why I am a WRFI student and environmental studies major.

Above all else, the hunt brought me gratitude.  Grateful to be guided through this land by two instructors who care about us enough to get up early and hide candy in desert crevices.  Grateful we hiked for six days without seeing a trace of civilization. Grateful to be spending my semester covered in dirt, sleeping on red rock, happy as can be.

There may not be any more surprise Easter egg hunts around the corner, but the lessons of natural history will remain with me.  I am preparing to wander the Dirty Devil Canyon with Fleischner’s principles in mind. I will pay attention to the varieties of lichen brightly splattering the rocks.  I will reciprocate the good the land does for me by leaving no trace as I travel. I will sing wildly and off-key with my friends to express the joy I feel in canyon country.  I will visualize my place in this ecosystem once I’ve left it, thinking about how I can defend it. I will embody accuracy by filling my brain with the knowledge of others, not diluting my experience with my opinion alone.  I will be humble under the grandeur of the cliff faces. I will affirm my ability to survive with my pack full of resources by marveling at the coyotes surviving on next to nothing. I will forever and always be grateful for my time taking in the Colorado Plateau.