Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Here are just a few highlights...

from last week's field trip to Glacier National Park with 17 motivated students, seen here at camp the first night at Apgar campground at Lake MacDonald on the west side of the park (click images to enlarge):
Without wasting any time the next day, we headed up to Logan Pass and hiked the Hidden Lake Trail (covered by record snowpack) in order to examine glacial landforms on the continental divide:
While we perched at a viewpoint a mountain goat ambled by, going about its business:
After returning to the parking lot I managed to capture a herd of bighorn sheep relaxing on a steep scree slope:
At lower elevation we discussed various topics in botany, with wildflowers struggling with a late bloom due to the long, hard winter.  Here's Indian Paintbrush, one of my favorites:
Stromatolites in the Helena Formation were examined along Going-to-the-Sun Road (just below the first tunnel on the west side), and here's an outcrop of laterally-linked hemispheroids:
The Trail of Cedars offered the group an opportunity to explore an old growth grove, and here's one of the larger cedars towering overhead:
We drove over Marias Pass as we shifted camp to the east side, examining the Lewis Overthrust at the summit, where Precambrian-age Belt rocks are thrust over Cretaceous shales:
It was pretty stormy in camp that night, but it yielded a spectacular sky on fire at sunset:
A long, long hike on Gunsight Pass trail the following day took us to close-in views of the remaining bits of the Jackson Glacier and its neoglacial moraines:
Alpine glaciation is responsible for sculpting some of the most spectacular landscapes on Earth, and they are vividly on display above St. Mary Lake:
The last morning of our excursion was spent at Sun River Canyon (west of Augusta, Montana) in order to examine the multiple thrust sheets in the "disturbed belt" of the northern Rockies.  Here are two (of seven exposed in the canyon) late-Paleozoic carbonate units shingled on top of one another:
Though I don't have any photographs to illustrate the event, the most exciting experience of the entire trip was watching an enormous blonde grizzly bear charging two mountain goats.  We watched the drama unfold at a safe distance through binoculars, taking place on a high slope above Many Glacier, as the bear slowly stalked and maneuvered downwind of its prey, then charging fast, but was ultimately left unrewarded for its efforts.  Spectacular.


  1. Nice pics of what looks to be a successful field trip, despite the snow-pack. Love the Mountain Goat pic!

  2. Glacier is a great place. I've taken the family there twice since my first geology field trip back in,.....1991-92(?). Good memories.