High Country Exploration
Instructor: Greg Peters
July 3 at 7 a.m.
Come experience the high country, where we will observe environmental changes as we hike from the dense subalpine spruce and fir forest of the Saint Mary Valley, to the stunning alpine zones characterized by gnarled, windswept trees that hug the ground. We will continue up to the rocky, moonscape-like tundra at Piegan Pass, where colorful wildflowers grow only inches tall. We will learn about the life cycles, adaptation strategies, and interactions of plants and animals of the high country. We will delve into how certain indicator species thrive in these zones, despite the wind and weather extremes of the Rocky Mountain Front.
Meeting Place: Glacier Institute Field Camp
Itinerary: (subject to change due to weather and trail closures) We will meet at Field Camp at 7 a.m., followed by a brief introduction to climate variations on the west and east sides of the park. We will then load up in the Glacier Institute vehicles and drive to the Saint Mary Valley. We will begin hiking the Piegan Pass trail, discussing the landscape, climate and indicator species of the area. We will stop frequently along the trail to observe the plant life, wildlife, and the changes in topography. We will discuss the connections between the local landscape, climate, vegetation, and wildlife. We will return to Field Camp and the class will conclude at 4 p.m. (If Piegan Pass is closed we will hike to Scenic Point in the Two Medicine Valley)
Food: Please bring a trail lunch, plenty of water, and snacks for the day.
Park Entrance Fees: Participants are responsible for purchasing their park entry passes prior to the course. These can be purchased online at: https://www.recreation.gov/sitepass/74280.
Equipment: You will receive a Field Camp gear list once you register. Most importantly are comfortable hiking shoes, snacks, water bottle at least 1-2 liters, backpack, rain gear, hat, and sunscreen. Weather can be varied (especially in the higher elevations), so please be prepared for extremely high winds and cold temperatures. Please bring appropriate clothing and extra layers.
Physical Requirements: Moderate to strenuous difficulty. Hiking distance covers 9 miles round-trip with 2,000 feet of elevation change. Scenic Point as an alternate hike is 8 miles round-trip with 2,400 feet in elevation changes.
Academic Credit: Please see our ‘2021 Academic Credit’ link on our website to learn about OPI credit.