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Class in the woods

We just back yesterday afternoon from an awesome 4 days and 3 nights in the Clearwater National Forest, right near the Idaho-Montana border. What an incredible place to have class! It’s the Montana Field Course (though I think both times we go out into the backcounty, we’re in Idaho), and we learn all about the Forest Service and how they manage the National Forests.

Although you can learn a lot in the classroom, there’s nothing quite like seeing the stuff that you are learning about. Where we went this past week, we could see past clearcuts, boundaries between private forest land and national forest land (and how different the two sides looked), evidence of beetle kills, evidence of past burns, and the vast expanse of public land that we have out here in the West. It was really awesome. I love to be outside anyways, and it was just the best to get to be outside for class. We went on some incredible hikes up to peaks and ridgelines, sat in sunny meadows for lectures and cooled off in the cold mountain streams. The wildflowers were unbelievable and there were even a few huckleberries for eating.

We finished off the trip with a refreshing dip in the Lolo Hot Springs followed by some deliciously greasy french fries (a treat after eating instant oatmeal and other similar backpacking foods for 4 days!) We’re back in Missoula now, with much of the group heading up to Glacier National Park this weekend. I have heaps of work to do (for another project and my wedding, which is coming right up!) so I am staying in town to try to get as much done as I can. But, I’m excited for next week’s adventure to the Bitteroot-Selway National Forest… definitely an awesome way to finish up my courses here at VLS!

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