Monday, December 17, 2012

Lubrecht Fall Retreat

Blog entry by Jocelyn

"This is it! We're done! 18 essays, dozens of books, and countless field trips later, we made it to the end of the the semester! I can hardly contain my excitement. I now have time to read books... FOR FUN."

To celebrate the end of the semester, the Wilderness and Civilization group took a trip up to the Lubrecht Experimental Forest owned by the College of Forestry and Conservation here on campus. We left on December 12 at about 1PM and drove the hour long drive up to Lubrecht. After arriving, we threw all of our stuff into the various old boxcars where we would be staying the night, put on our boots/skis/snowshoes, and spent the afternoon playing in the snow. We split up into two groups and took off in different directions: one with skis and snowshoes and the other with nothing but our boots. But, alas! Both groups were on the same loop trail and we met about halfway through the hike. Both groups howled. The ski/snowshoe group hid behind the trees waiting to attack and the other group ran in their direction armed with snowballs. An epic battle occurred. Only one was injured and there was no clear winner of the battle. We then continued in separate directions.

At 5:30 we met back in the kitchen for dinner and made an amazing meal of spaghetti, mashed potatoes, and salad. After dinner, we went up to the conference room where a Christmas tree and Santa Claus (aka Sarah Hitzemann) were waiting. We all enjoyed some spiced apple cider that Natalie made, the most amazing brownies ever made by yours truly, and even made our own ice cream. Each person was told to bring a present up to Lubrecht for this trip, so we put all of the presents under the tree, and then sat around for a gift exchange. Dixie ended up with all of the materials necessary to play Rolling for Chocolate, Avery got a blister kit with detailed instructions by Jessica, Leydon got a solar powered battery charger made by Shannon, lots of people got various foods, and Natalie even ended up with a plastic pink dolphin from Brazil. Successful gift exchange. Later that night we all went back to our box cars. My box car sat around in our long underwear by the wood stove real late talking, relaxing, and reading.

The next morning we had an amazing breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, and coffee/tea then cleaned, packed all our stuff up, and headed to the Swan Valley. We met Adam Lieberg from Northwest Connections in Ovando, Montana for a lesson on winter animal tracking. Adam took us into the Blackfoot Community Conservation Area (the same place we went with Jim Stone from Blackfoot Challenge) and we hiked through the snow looking for tracks. It was the perfect day to be out there: it was relatively sunny that there was probably half a foot of snow on the ground. Adam taught us how to identify tracks in the snow based on gait, the distance between tracks, etc. We found so many tracks while we were out there: weasels, snowshoe hares, elk, coyote, red squirrel, etc. Sadly, we never found any "sexy" carnivore tracks. But it was a great day and Adam is an incredibly passionate and knowledgeable teacher. After tracking with Adam, we all got back in the cars and headed back to Missoula.

Getting lost at Lubrecht?

Small group photo while hiking at Lubrecht.

An epic battle in the snow.

Santa Claus with a salad.

How to keep warm at Lubrecht-continual stokage.

Tracking with Adam from Northwest Connections.  Here we saw some coyote tracks.

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