ReWilding Fall 2016

Glacier National Park, MT

As the Crown of the Continent, Glacier is the headwaters for streams that flow to the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and to Hudson’s Bay. What happens here affects waters in a huge section of North America.

Flathead County & Glacier County, Glacier National Park is a national park located in the U.S. state of Montana, on the Canada–United States border with the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. The park encompasses over 1 million acres and includes parts of two mountain ranges (sub-ranges of the Rocky Mountains), over 130 named lakes, more than 1,000 different species of plants, and hundreds of species of animals. This vast pristine ecosystem is the centerpiece of what has been referred to as the “Crown of the Continent Ecosystem”, a region of protected land encompassing 16,000 square miles.

The mountains of Glacier National Park began forming 170 million years ago when ancient rocks were forced eastward up and over much younger rock strata. Known as the Lewis Overthrust, these sedimentary rocks are considered to have some of the finest fossilized examples of extremely early life found anywhere on Earth. The current shapes of the Lewis and Livingston mountain ranges and positioning and size of the lakes show the telltale evidence of massive glacial action, which carved U-shaped valleys and left behind moraines which impounded water, creating lakes. Of the estimated 150 glaciers which existed in the park in the mid-19th century, only 25 active glaciers remained by 2010.

Scientists studying the glaciers in the park have estimated that all the glaciers may disappear by 2030 if the current climate patterns persist.

The region that became Glacier National Park was first inhabited by Native Americans. Upon the arrival of European explorers, it was dominated by the Blackfeet in the east and the Flathead in the western regions. Under pressure, the Blackfoot ceded the mountainous parts of their treaty lands in 1895 to the federal government; it later became part of the park. Soon after the establishment of the park in 1910, a number of hotels and chalets were constructed by the Great Northern Railway. These historic hotels and chalets are listed as National Historic Landmarks and a total of 350 locations are on the National Register of Historic Places. By 1932 work was completed on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, later designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.

Glacier National Park has almost all its original native plant and animal species. Large mammals such as Grizzly bears, moose, and mountain goats, as well as rare or endangered species like wolverines and Canadian lynxes, hundreds of species of birds, more than a dozen fish species, and a few reptile and amphibian species. The park has numerous ecosystems ranging from prairie to tundra.

Glacier National Park borders Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada—the two parks are known as the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park and were designated as the world’s first International Peace Park in 1932.

Image result for glacier national park map

Student Comments

I thoroughly enjoyed the variety of learning opportunities in this course as well as in-depth debriefing experiences. The experiential nature of the learning as well as the creativity involved in using different kinds of capacities – cognitive, bodily, sensory, etc. make the learning highly transformative and impactful.

The Rewinding experience takes you front and center to ecosystems that are dynamic, changing, regenerating and dying. As I am in so many psychological constructs. The ability to adapt to weather on hikes, challenge your comfort level and be in with nature, rather than reading about it, is essential for beginning our learning for the semester. I now feel nature deeply, as well as my connection with it, in a way that resonates with the very reason I am pursuing this master’s program.

Professor Lori Pye is not only inspirational in her depth of knowledge, I learned she is a leader to be trusted with my physical and emotional self. You cannot get this by only long distance learning.

This is one of the most extraordinary places on Earth. This program is a gift!