320 Nucleus Ave
Columbia Falls, MT 59912
PO Box 1444
Columbia Falls, MT 59912
Reading the Forest Landscape
Instructor: Ellen Horowitz, B.S.
Wednesday, September 2 - Thursday, September 3, 2020
Everyone knows that Glacier is a mountain park, but most people don’t realize that two-thirds of it is forested. Gain a new appreciation and understanding of this vast and “overlooked” landscape. Learn to read the forests through recognition of its trees – from towering, old growth temperate rain forest species on Glacier’s west side to the stunted, twisted, high elevation (krummholz) trees found at the upper limits of treeline. And hone your observational skills as you learn to decipher the stories inscribed on tree trunks and branches by wildlife. Glacier’s forests share their secrets once you know where to look and what to look for.
*Note: Meals will provide from dinner on day 1 through a trail lunch on day 2. In addition 1 nights of lodging at Field Camp are included in the course fee. If you do not require lodging, call the registrar at 406-755-1211 to subtract $35/night from your course fee at the time of booking.
Meeting Place: Glacier Park Field Camp Meeting Hall (see campus map).
Meeting Time: Wednesday, September 2 at 8:00am
Tentative Itinerary (subject to change):
Wednesday: We’ll begin with a slide presentation to provide background information about Glacier’s forests before heading into the woods to practice conifer identification using a botanical key (guide). We’ll drive to two or three very different forest environments on the west side of the park for short hikes where we’ll become more aware of our surroundings – from recognizing the types of trees growing in an area to noticing the signs left on trees in the form of rubs, scratches, scrapes and tooth marks.
Wednesday evening: After dinner, we’ll regroup for an optional evening stroll near field camp and an introduction to Shinrin-Yoku. Also known as “forest bathing,” this Japanese practice of immersing oneself in a forest environment involves consciously connecting with all the senses.
Thursday: We’ll spend the day on the eastern slope of Glacier. After exploring extensive aspen groves along the foothills we’ll gradually hike into the subalpine forest zone and upper limits of treeline where trees grow crooked and often hug the ground instead of growing upright. Along the way, we’ll read the stories recorded on bark by animals using claws, teeth, antlers and other “writing implements.”
Food: Meals will provide from dinner on day 1 through a trail lunch on day 2. Meals will be Breakfast is continental style (e.g. oatmeal, yogurt, cereal, fruit, hardboiled eggs, bagels) and dinner is family style (e.g. garlic chicken pasta, burrito night, spaghetti night); lunch fixings (e.g. sandwich fixings, carrots, apples, trail mix, chips) are provided for each participant to prepare their own lunch to eat on the trail. Vegetarians can be accommodated. Upon request we can provide gluten free bread for lunch, gluten free pasta, corn tortillas. If you have specific dietary needs please get in touch with us upon signing up. We can figure out what we provide and if you should bring any items to supplement what we provide.
Required Equipment (all seasons): Sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots, daypack, water (2 liters minimum), raincoat, warm layers. Come prepared for all types of weather.
Weather: This course will not be canceled due to weather. Please check the weather forecast in advance and refer to the gear list for proper attire.
Physical Requirements: Moderate to moderately strenuous. Hiking distance each day covers approximately 6-7 miles.
Transportation: We will be traveling in a Glacier Institute vehicle during the course.
Accommodations: Lodging can be purchased for $35/person/night at the Glacier Institute Field Camp. Facilities include bunkhouses, a community bathhouse, a library and a kitchen. Please call the registrar at 406-755-1211 to book lodging.
Academic Credit: Please see our ‘2020 Academic Credit’ Link on our website to learn about OPI credit and FVCC and UM credit for our courses. There is a $20 administrative fee to receive OPI renewal units with FVCC.
Recommended Reading: To enhance your understanding of the park and its forest communities, we recommend the following books:
Glacier National Park: A Natural History Guide (2nd Edition) by David Rockwell (2007).
Trees and Flowering Shrubs of Glacier National Park by Shannon Kimball and Peter Lesica (2013).
*All classes and participants are asked to practice “Leave No Trace” ethics.*