Autumn in Glacier
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Autumn in Glacier: September 21, 2017

Price: $65.00
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Description Course Details

Autumn in Glacier

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Ellen Horowitz

Glacier National Park winters are long and severe. Snow depths can reach 30 feet, some lakes freeze to their bottoms, and below zero temperatures are the norm at higher elevations. Plants, birds, insects, mammals, amphibians and fish have incredible adaptations to survive these changes, and on a beautiful hike to Firebrand pass, we get to watch them happen. 

Meeting Time: Thursday, September 21, 8:00 AM

Meeting Place:  Glacier Park Field Camp Meeting Hall (see campus map).


  • Introductions, orientation and class overview
  • Institute bus to Firebrand/Lubec Trailhead (biology of fall color on the bus)
  • Hike to subalpine area below Firebrand Pass (beaver igloos and caches; seed dispersal; plant strategies for cold and snow; hibernators, hyper-eaters and amazing grizzly physiology) 
  • Lunch at beautiful overlook (raptor migrations and the Golden eagle superhighway above us; alpine plant adaptations to winter) 
  • Return hike (dealing with the drying wind; mammal migrations; how non-migrating birds cope; how tiny mammals cope; squirrel-pile!)
  • Return to Field Camp (what is climate change doing to autumn; class wrap-up and good-byes)

If faced with inclement weather (at Firebrand, which usually involves wind), the Instructor and Glacier Institute staff will choose an alternative, lower elevation hike.  The weather is predictably good at this time of year, but never a sure thing. Be prepared for a full day outdoors. Light rain with little wind should not hamper us. We will return to West Glacier by about 5:00 PM. This course will not be cancelled due to weather.

Required Equipment (all seasons): Warm Layers 

Course Equipment: Binoculars are useful, but optional, as well as field guides of your preference. 

Physical Requirements: Moderate. We will not hike all the way to Firebrand Pass, but the total hiking distance may cover up to eight miles round trip with up to 1,000 feet elevation gain.

Transportation: We will be traveling in a Glacier Institute vehicle.

Recommended Reading:

GLACIER: A Natural History by David Rockwell.

Glacier National Park Website, Nature and Science (written by former GI Instructor, Denny Olson) (click on all the sub-categories) 

Winter World by Bernd Heinrich