Sunday, September 21, 2008

Afield Again

Subalpine September snow flurries might intimidate some, but one thing we've learned here in Montana is that if you plan on working in the field, you can't wait on good weather. Such was the Anaconda Range's Storm Lake the perfect setting for our first field trip of the new school year.

CFWEP's Youth Court program took its alternative community service venture beyond new boundaries the weekend after Labor Day with an outing into the wilderness. Literally.

Wilderness photographer and enthusiast Chadeayne Roush, your anything but typical septegenarian, met our students at the Storm Lake trailhead for a 7-mile excursion into the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness area that included a semi-summit of Little Rainbow Peak (9,989') and a walk over Storm Lake Pass to the awe-inspiring Goat Flat.

None of the 13 students who made the hike had ever ventured on a hike of this distance, let alone this destination into the wilderness backcountry before. The trip was an awesome experience for the group nonetheless, as one put it best while taking in a windy vista of the Big Hole valley through a snow-speckled screen:
"I think I just found my new hangout."

Prior to making the trek, the Montana Wilderness Society's John Gatchell and Montana Tech ecology professor Dr. Michelle Anderson delivered evening lectures and discussion on the unique and important benefits that wilderness areas provide to humans, plants and animals.

Wilderness is an unspoiled setting where all of us, regardless of species, can sink in and simply be ourself without anything else getting in the way, even if it only lasts for a day. And at many times throughout this day, the students faces said it all.