Garfinkel's Picturesque Postcard from Class in Jackson Hole

July 10, 2014

Hello, Michigan softball fans!

This is Becca Garfinkel, a senior catcher from West Bloomfield, Mich. I am writing to you from Camp Davis, the University of Michigan Field Research Station in Jackson Hole, Wyo., where I am taking an American Culture course about the US West.

My class, called "History and Literature of the Rocky Mountains," is just one of the exciting and unique classes that Michigan offers students at Camp Davis. Here at camp we are sharing space with students in geology, earth science, and environment classes. My class is an interdisciplinary and experiential learning course that takes us from Yellowstone to the Tetons to downtown Jackson Hole and more. Every day we venture out of camp to either hike a trail or drive to a nearby point of interest, where we can learn about the development of the Western frontier right where it really happened! It is two weeks into the class and I've been able to snap some shots of the incredible things we've seen -- check them out!

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Rendezvous Peak

This is me (far left) and my bunkmates at Rendezvous Peak at the top of the Teton Range. Behind us you can see some other mountains in the range and the canyons below, which we have learned were formed by the movement of glaciers thousands of years ago. To get up here, we took a tram from Jackson Hole all the way up Rendezvous Mountain. In the winter, the tram transports skiers to the top for some extreme downhill skiing. We had class at the top of the mountain, where we took some time to sketch our surroundings and learn about the geologic processes that formed the landscape we were looking down upon.

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Yellowstone Lake

This is me at Yellowstone Lake on the last day of our four-day camping trip to Yellowstone. Our time at the park included tours of Yellowstone’s exceptional hydrothermal features (numbering in the thousands, they hold more than 50 percent of the world's geysers), an analysis of Thomas Moran's painting "Yellowstone Falls" at an overlook of the Falls themselves, and several wildlife sightings, including elk, bison, and both black and grizzly bears (we broke the previous class record of bear sightings with an impressive nine bears spotted! But don't worry, we kept our distance). On the day this photo was taken, we hiked to Yellowstone Lake at the edge of the Caldera and discussed our reading for that day: chapter two of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. No better way to "live deliberately" than to enjoy a view like this!

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Inspiration Point

Here is a class picture at Inspiration Point, a cliff overlooking Jenny Lake at the base of the Tetons. The mountains in the distance are part of the Gros Ventres range, formed millions of years ago by a geologic process called compression. To get to Inspiration Point we took a ferry across the lake (you can see one of the boats in the bottom left corner) and hiked a steep mile to this spot. After a quick lunch and discussion of the reading for that day (a history of the 19th century fur trade) we went on to hike past the 100-foot Hidden Falls, an incredible and powerful waterfall, all the way through Cascade Canyon, one of the canyons I mentioned earlier that were formed by the movement of glaciers during the last Ice Age.

Hope you enjoyed the photos! This has been an incredible experience and I'm lucky to be able to share it all with you. Go Blue!

- Becca