The past couple of weeks have brought a distinct shift in the season, as summer comes to a close and fall settles in. Those of us who live, learn, and work on the Jackson Campus have watched firsthand as the aspen trees lining the east side of the canyon change from green to gold. The blue ceiling of summer has given way to dramatic skies, alternating light and dark over the buttes and canyon. Instructors have had to scrape early-season frost off of windshields in the mornings. Puffy jackets abound until mid-day.
As our physical surroundings in Coyote Canyon change, the campus itself takes on a new feeling. Just as the bright yellow leaves start falling, a new wave of Field Education students is descending on the canyon, too – these days, both leaves and students fill the paths and walkways of the Jackson Campus. Bright duffel bags and pillowcases line lodge porches, as school groups begin the cycle of coming and going that will continue through the fall season. Blaze orange hats, a classic sign of fall, flash atop students and instructors alike as they head into the field or come back after a long day.
Instructors excitedly dig into fall programming, showing students the wonder of this place at dusk through the magic of elk bugling. Having heard this sound for the first time recently, I can personally attest to its awe-invoking power (as well as its eerie nature.) Pika research is another fall specialty, bringing students face-to-face with a unique species poised on the front lines of climate change.
While some in the valley may see fall as a barrier between themselves and the ski season, I hope we can all take time to appreciate the change of pace it offers. The cooler air and new color palette encourage cozy layers, reflection, and reinvigorated exploration of this incredible place we call home.