July 3rd ‘twas—when from Mexico, New York, New Mexico by way of Vermont and D.C. (respectively), East Coast, Nepal and the Philippines by way of the West Coast, our now beloved Wyoming, and elsewhere equally as important ventured sixteen wide-eyed, fresh-faced, adventurous youths, reeking of innocence and berry smoothies. We introduce ourselves: hello, we are Sierra (Berkshire County, MA) and Skye (New York City, NY), dinner-devourers, mosquito-murderers, and mildly frequent shower-ers.
It was on this fair and splendid day that the aforementioned smiling adolescents crafted what would become their “greatest souvenirs:” our notebooks, which function as journals of the field and of the heart! In them, we neatly (sometimes?) and gently tuck away our souls and close written observations of nuances in the perforations of arrowleaf balsamroot.
JULY 4TH: Four female innocents smelling faintly of sunshine (including yours truly!) woke at dawn to take a three mile run down the leveled grassland which connects our hallowed TSS campus to the main road upon which Muggles travel. It was then that we witnessed the sun rise like mango sorbet and raspberries over the Gros Ventre mountains! After a day of hiking and sharing poison (DEET; coined phrase: “Pass the poison”), we watched TWO, yes, TWO sets of spectacular (ish) fireworks from the site of the sign popular for posing tourists (“WELCOME TO GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK”).
JULY 5TH: We hiked to Taggart Lake and talked about geology! FACTS: THE TETONS ARE COMPOSED OF IGNEOUS AND METAMORPHIC ROCK WHICH WERE FORMED 2.8 BILLION YEARS AGO. THE TETONS THEMSELVES ARE ONLY 13 MILLION YEARS OLD.
JULY 6th: Early rise for listening to birds. We hiked between four communities: Riparian, Aspen, Sagebrush, and Coniferous, to observe how WATER is EVERYTHING and abiotic factors affect biotic. Our adventure of the day commenced when a few lucky individuals spotted a rare Calypso barbossa on the side of the trail. Quite a find! Such an indelible moment! Such a treat! A true delight!
JULY 7TH: Another bright and early morning for the sixteen young adventurers, for on this EXCITING DAY we did trail work at Two Ocean Lakes with a large group of paid teenage trail workers (a conservation corps) who were equally as local to the area as they were cute. Our blisters grew blisters as we shoved with our shovels, but it built character, so it’s okay.
JULY 8TH: We hiked up Blacktail Butte in order to contemplate the theme of the day (Ecological Relationships and Connections) and the questions of the day (How are living things connected? How can we go about understanding them?). In pairs, we observed different scales of interactive life, first looking at the life within a small circle of string we laid on the ground, then at all organisms living in and around a Douglas Fir, and then at the entire landscape visible from our post, which encompassed the slope of the Butte and the valley between it and the Tetons (which are quite majestic and quite ubiquitous and quite pretty and all of that).
It’s bilingual here, with Spanish being spoken only somewhat less than English (though Ancient Greek, Latin, Tagalog, and Nepali are all represented!). There are a lot of mosquitos. We are all showering enough and food is very good. Bison are all over the place. The babies are like golden retrievers.
Is it apparent that using technology tires our weather-beaten palms? Mustn’t continue any further, for the silver crescent of the bright moon o’er the swaying grass beckons our weary souls.
Sierra and Skye