Blog Posts

GeoDESLA 2019 comes to a close

By Rosie Oakes

After a brilliant trip filled with rock licking, bison spotting, and fossil excavating, GeoDESLA 2019 has come to a close. Katy and I stayed in Billings today to make sure that all the students made it safely onto their flights home. While we’ve just experienced our first storm with golfball-sized hailstones, the GeoDELSA students and staff are on their way back to California, New Jersey, Michigan, Texas, and everywhere in between. It has been a total joy to work with such a great group of students and we can’t wait to hear about all they go on to achieve.

I wrote a short poem to try and sum up the science, leadership, adventure, and laughter of the last week which I read to the students at the closing ceremony last night. Here it is for all to enjoy!

GeoDESLA 2019 out!

GeoDESLA 2019

We’ve come to the end of GeoDESLA 2019,
So it’s time for a recap about all that we’ve seen.
It all started last Saturday when we picked up the crew,
All on time with their luggage in tow, it felt too good to be true!
We played no ball volleyball to learn each other’s names,
Kelsey and Kaylee proved to be undefeatable, winning these games.
The first day was about the rock cycle, and rock ID,
And concluded with a visit to Mordor and the K/Pg.
Anna surprised herself, by hiking uphill fast in the heat,
And Kole’s detailed notes were not to be beat!
We studied hydrology by throwing rocks and marshmallows,
The first few of Peter’s rocks fell out in the shallows.
We went off to Yellowstone with Dr. Loyc V.,
There were tuffs to hike up, and bison to see.
Way scrambled up the scree slope like a mountain goat,
And Julia and Aila found shiny crystals in the float.
Then off to the mudpots, which smelt worse than stinky feet,
Loyc loved it, but Noor and Marie were forced to retreat!
We watched geysers erupt and hiked to Grand Prismatic,
The backdrop for Brigid’s sixteenth birthday was dramatic.
Then it was into the Bighorn Basin to find a dinosaur bone,
Will found it cooler than when he watched Jurassic Park on his phone!
Katy was excited when people found fossilized shell,
One Chris took photos, while the other thought shoveling dirt was swell!
We worked in the heat with Jason Schein and Jason Poole,
Hamilton, Justin, and Henry prospected a new fossil site, which was really cool.
Hanna lugged water up to the site,
While Ruby found plastering was a total delight!
Angie uncovered a long bone, and now dreams of being a paleo pro,
And Sophie discovered careful fossil extraction could move pretty slow.
Our final day was a team building hike to Glacier Lake,
Lauren set the pace, and Olivia distracted people from their feet ache.
Now our trip is ending with a set of student presentations,
Pizza, chat, and general celebrations.
You’re a such talented group of future pilots and biologists,
Environmental lawyers, engineers, and hopefully geologists.
So GeoDESLA 2019, I guess that’s a wrap,
Give yourselves a cheer and a really big clap!

Hike Day!

By Aila, Brigid, and Justin

Today started with breakfast at 7:30. After breakfast we feared as there was a storm on the way. However, we did not let that stop our 5 mile hike with 1000 meters elevation. The staff informed us that this would be a student led trip so we had to take charge of how we should organize the trip. Before getting into the cars we split up all the snacks between us. At first we only took granola bars and apples, but after thinking we realized that some chips and candy would give us energy and boost moral. Then we split up the 8 gallons of water that we had to carry up so we stayed hydrated. The more experienced hikers took two gallons each and the remaining water was split up among the rest. After we filled up our water bottles, we piled into the cars. The base of the hike was about 40 minutes away from camp. When we arrived, we got topographic maps of the hike, which we had learnt to read during one of the classroom lectures, and a compass. We planned our order and set off for the adventure awaiting.

Evidence of fire on the hike

After breakfast, we all hopped into SUVs and were driven to the pathway up to Glacier Lake. Before we have left camp, we selected people to carry GPSs, waters, foods, first aids, and other supplies. We readied ourselves for a 5 mile up and down hill hike and went off. At first, it took us a while to set the pace that everyone in the group was comfortable with. Taking frequent water breaks we were making sure that everyone was staying hydrated for the journey ahead of them. Once the lake has caught our eyes, out excitement raised in an instant and everyone picked up the pace to make it to the lake. We skipped stones, ate our lunches, drank water, and had an all around good time. The clouds seemed to darken in a matter of minutes and we knew we had to leave before the rain hit us. Still having the necessities, rain resistant jackets was one that everyone had. Multiple times along the way down, we pulled over to let oncoming hikers and their friendly dogs by us. We also stopped for more water breaks, lectures from he staff, and just to take in the gorgeous view. Finally we made it down the mountain safely and enjoyed the great experience full of friends, foods, sights to see, and a great time over all.

There were wildflowers scattered along the trail
Lunch with a view

After the drive back from the trail, our group was warned about a grizzly bear sighting that occurred this morning, at the camp. It was a mother and cub near the lodge. We were nervous, but our counselors made sure we traveled in large groups around camp, and we didn’t see any animals. We all loaded up into the vans around 5:40, and drove into the town of Red Lodge. We were able to walk around the quaint downtown before dinner at 6:30. Our group wandered into a clothing store with shoes that had cow print fur on them! Afterwards, we walked to the Red Lodge Pizza Co. and we all got stuffed with pizza and breadsticks. After dinner, we received our DESLA certificates, and Rosie read us her awesome poem about our time on the trip. After that, we left the Red Lodge Pizza Co. and headed back to camp.

Paleo Day 2

By Ruby and Hamilton

Hi I’m Ruby and I grew up in Philadelphia. My day started with a moose sighting, he had massive antlers and dewlap. Normally I am used to waking up to the noises of my brother’s tv shows, but today I got an amazing video of a moose trotting. Afterwards I hopped in the car for the hour drive to the Mother’s Day Quarry. We did tasks such as flipping rocks, looking for crystals, jacketing new fossils that were found and we also prospected for new fossils. William and I were assigned to a cool dinosaur rib that was not yet extracted from the ground. We worked on extracting the rib for about 15 minutes and the rib tipped a little to one side, letting us know it was loose enough to flip. Jason S. walked over and guided us to successfully flip the rib, in which it was a success! We flipped the rib without fracturing it at all. Then we learned how to plaster the rib with JJ’s. We unrolled the JJ’s and ripped them to reasonable lengths. We then dipped the JJ into water and covered the extracted rib. 

Jason, Ruby, and Will carefully flipping the fossilized rib
Fossil flipping success!

Afterwards, we looked around for more fossils but unfortunately there wasn’t any to be found. Jason thought that it could be because the people who found the rib, already probed the area. So then I decided to help Way get water for the next plaster, this time it was a huge fossil that was found, so it needed actually plastering using plaster powder and water, rather using JJ’s. The hike back to the cars was really hot and I started getting a headache. Then I remembered Chris Vito saying laying under cars was really cooling and so I did that when we arrived to the car. I felt a lot more refreshed so I started filling bottles and refilling the plaster water container. 

We walked back and Kelsey guided us on the actual way of plastering. I dumped water half-way of the bucket and Jason Poole poured the powder. We all stirred the mixture with our arms, which got messy pretty quick, but because we stirred the mixture a bit too much it was too well mixed and diluted. We ended up throwing in the burlap and waited for about a minute to thicken. We talked about colleges during the mean time and got carried away. The mixture thickened a little too much so we had to work faster, this made things even more messy because of splashing. We finished in 15 minutes and then Rosie told us about a site that was found with awesome crystals.

 Immediately Lauren, Bridgid and I went to the site and pick-axed rocks with possible crystals in it. Chris Kelly taught us about the crystalized bands that tell us how much possible crystals that could have formed within the rock. Bridgid found an awesome rock with massive amounts of crystals formed inside and broke it open. I found really cool crystals with green, white, and pink bands and gently placed it in my pocket to take home. We headed down to the site we were at before and started helping other groups. William and I plastered another fossil with JJ’s and then Marie announced that it was time to head back. We all helped carry tools back to our cars and headed back to camp. The car ride back felt like only 10 minutes rather 45 because Hannah and I had a pretty fun time back. 

My name is Hamilton, and my time at the quarry today was spent between two main parts. I started off re-jacketing a fossil that had been ruined the day before by rain with Kelsey and Chris K. After two coats of of jacketing and plaster-covered hands, it was ready to go. Next I went off prospecting with Justin and Henry, and we found something. Henry brought something he found to our attention, which we thought was likely fossil bone, so we checked the spot for more. We were pleasantly surprised to find a couple more pieces, one of which was undoubtedly bone, so we brought it to Jason P’s attention. He told us to go back and look for more, so we did.

Hamilton, Kelsey, and Chris K re-plaster a jacketed fossil

We began searching the surface and digging to see if any more would turn up. As it turned out, I think it became a question of if any less would turn up. There was so much stuff uncovered it had to be left to be excavated next year, due to it being the end of the dig season. From what I saw, a lot of it was cylindrical, though fragmented with a range of color from blue to black. They had striations running down the outsides and were generally smooth on the inside where it was fractured from.

We drove back and after about an hour of free time we listened to Jason P’s chalk talk on osteology, followed by a filling dinner of polish sausages (basically hot dogs) and had ice cream for dessert. As ironic as it was having just eaten what was likely pork, we went to what may be everyone’s new favorite event: pig racing. We were all cheering for which number we thought would win, making one of the most energetic parts of our day. People were sticking their hands in the track, letting them sniff, lick, and nibble their hands. In the end, I lost every time (I always bet for #4), but I saw some cute piggies racing.

Paleo day 1 – prospecting and poop saunas

By Kaylee, Sophie, and Will

To get to our first day of Paleo, we drove 1.5 hours to get to our digging site. Big Horn Basin is uniquely positioned between the Pryors and the Beartooth Mountains. When geological basins form, rock and sediment on the mountain are the oldest in the area, while those in the center of the basin are the youngest. For paleontology, this means that bones and fossils further up the mountain–in the older sections–will progressively travel down the slope of the valley they are in. Eventually, they come to rest in the youngest part of the basin, allowing for easy collection. Big Horn is one of the most accessible fossil locations in the world, maintaining all the key components to easy recovery. The arid landscape is very exposed and can be worked with, as opposed to oceanic or mountainous landscapes. Additionally, the location is dated back to the Jurassic period, where the biome was the complete opposite to what it is today. Such an area is prolific in fossil discoveries because of its lush nature.

In the field, scientist Jason Poole showed us some of the most important jobs in paleontology. These range from prospecting the area to find new dig sites to casting the found bones in plaster. Paleontologists follow a specific, delicate protocol to ensure the safety of these important discoveries. Our job was the former, which required lots of water and patience. We were instructed to look for anything “out of the ordinary”, but everything in the desert looks completely homogenous. The heat was nearly unbearable under the zero trees, so Rosie made sure to remind us like five year olds to drink lots of water and reapply sunscreen every single minute. I drank four friggin liters of water and I was still too afraid to pee in the aptly named “poop sauna”. 

While there’s a bunch of fun things to do while looking for fossils in the Field there’s some dangers that you should be aware of. One of those dangers are the animals. One of the animals that you should look out for is either rattlesnakes. The second one are the plants. Now some of the plants don’t do anything but I mainly cactus and there small so there easy to miss so make sure you are wearing long pants and boots. The final thing is heat stroke. The weather out in the field is extremely hot, so it’s easy to get a heat stroke if you aren’t careful. An important item to bring is water at least 2 liters worth an make sure your constantly drinking.

Finding fossils in the Bighorn Basin!

Now the important thing to look for is in the field is rocks. Now the reason why this is important is because I learned that it’s important to constantly look because some fossils and rocks look the same. Also look for fossils that are near slopes and by sand stones. Now it’s also important to look for dangers such as rattles snakes and cactus. If you just keep a look out for this stuff you should have a fun time looking for fossils.
In the end, we inhaled a lot of sunscreen and got so, so, so dirty that we had to exfoliate with a metal sponge.

Finding fossils in the Bighorn Basin

The drive home with Rosie is always the best part of the day. Unfortunately, today Rosie decided to be lazy and not drive home. She literally hates our music so much that she stayed in the desert with the rattlesnakes instead of driving home. One of the vans suspiciously broke down while we were less than a mile away from the basin and Rosie valiantly stayed behind on the phone with Hertz. She really hates Hertz and Beethoven hold music. One day without Loyc and already our lives are filled with misery and broken vans. 

Yellowstone Day 2 – Loyc in his natural habitat

By Noor and Peter

We arose out of our sweet little motel rooms with the morning sun peeking through the windows. We then headed to the classic western breakfast joint. Which was decked out with bison paraphernalia. 

    After this sweet breakfast we headed to Yellowstone. Following an hour of driving we arrived  at old faithful. We sat at the visitors center and waited for Loycs friend, a National Park ranger who calculates geyser activity. Soon it was time to go watch old faithful erupt. We waited for about ten minutes until it erupted. The eruption lasted just three minutes but it was an eye opening experience.

 After the eruption we headed to the castle geyser. The park ranger gave us an infrared camera, which we were able to use to measure the temperature of the geysers. The castle geyser was between 42-56 degrees Celsius. The park ranger left and Loyc took us on through a geyser trail. We saw so many geysers, some small, some big, some cone geysers, some that erupted often, and some that hasn’t erupted since 2017. We headed back to the visitor center to have lunch. We had subway sandwiches, chips and oranges and a delicious chocolate chip muffin.

Views over Grand Prismatic

After lunch, a quick drive to a scenic overlook ensued. The quick fifteen minute hike revealed a massive inactive geyser. The thing was a beauty of nature, spanning about 75 yards with a distinct crystal blue color branching out to a light green, then yellow, and finally a bordering orange. After tons of photos, we left and drove a solid hour and a half to, from Loyc’s opinion, the best boysenberry ice cream in all of Montana. We shopped till we dropped, buying tons of shirts and stickers all reading “Yellowstone”. Another hour of the open road ensued, this time landing us in Cooke City. We all grabbed a quick bite, and hit the road, driving back through the glacial torn Beartooth Mountains. We finally arrived at YBRA at around 9:30 PM, ending the day of adventure.

Loyc was happy to be back in his natural habitat, Yellowstone!

A Yellowstonian Extravaganza

After waking up at the ungodly hour of 6:00, we had a quaint breakfast at the lodge consisting of french toast and sausage. Delicious! Heading back to our lodges, we packed our things for a two day trip into Yellowstone. With our backpacks practically bursting at the seams, we headed back to the lodge to find out who we would be spending the 4 hour car ride with. Clearly the most important information about our day… 😉 We separated into three vans and began our journey into the great unknown. However, the suspense of the great unknown grew old pretty quick, and we found ways to entertain ourselves, be it talking, listening to music, or trying to identify the different rock and glacial formations we passed.  

After waking up at the ungodly hour of 6:00, we had a quaint breakfast at the lodge consisting of french toast and sausage. Delicious! Heading back to our lodges, we packed our things for a two day trip into Yellowstone. With our backpacks practically bursting at the seams, we headed back to the lodge to find out who we would be spending the 4 hour car ride with. Clearly the most important information about our day… 😉 We separated into three vans and began our journey into the great unknown. However, the suspense of the great unknown grew old pretty quick, and we found ways to entertain ourselves, be it talking, listening to music, or trying to identify the different rock and glacial formations we passed.  

     Although many of us were unexcited for the three-to-four hour drive ahead of us, all concerns ‘melted’ away when the Geo-DESLA staff pointed out various patches of glacial ice on the drive up the mountain. After a scenic drive through the Beartooths, we were treated to spectacular views of small glaciers and lakes deposited by larger glaciers long ago. Not only did this provide an incredible photo-op, but it was a wonderful place to view and learn about the impacts of glacial activity. What we thought were just a series of lakes turned out to have a much more interesting name: patternoster. Everyone agreed that this would be a great Scrabble word. Before we moved on to our next adventure, we even got the chance to stand on a glacier and touch some glacial snow. Although we chose not to have a snowball fight, (for obvious reasons), it certainly was an unforgettable experience.   

After the scenic route past the beartooth valley, we drove to Lost Creek Falls. We gathered our lunches, backpacks, and water bottles to begin the hike up to the waterfall. The trek through many different types of brush, such as gooseberries and raspberry bushes, was quite short. However, we then reached the steep incline littered with crumbling lava rocks, large boulders, and fallen tree trunks. One by one, we climbed up to reach a comfortable(ish) place to eat, about halfway to the top. After some struggle and slipping up the incline, we were finally able to enjoy our lunches, listening to the rushing water below and screeching crows. Although many were feeling the burn of climbing, we still had to continue to the base of the cliff to examine geological formations. We took out our yellow “write in the rain” notebooks and began making observations about our surroundings. Looking at the cliff, we noticed many horizontal, elongated holes in the rock. We had never seen anything like this before! Through our macro lenses, we even noticed different crystals, which were colored green, yellow, purple, and clear. After listening to Loyc explain the rock formation to us, we found out that this cliff was formed by a volcanic explosion 630 thousand years ago. The ash was compressed over a very short amount of time, maximum of a month. This type of rock is called tuff, or ignimbrite. White striations in the tuff were caused by pumice weighed down by ash. The strange holes we noticed right away were created by gas bubbles attempting to escape. Enough of that scientific jargon.  After taking our last looks, we began the descent down back to the trail, which many of us made on our a**es. We made our way back to the cars with the seat of our pants stained.

Next on our itinerary was driving to the overhang cliff at Tower Falls. Here, the overcast clouds parted and we were in complete sunshine. Immediately, we noticed the columns spread horizontally across the valley, next to Yellowstone River. The domed mountain where the columns formed was yellow, and the river was perfectly blue. We then looked back to the overhang, and saw identical columns in the same exact plane. We later found out that these are called basalts, which are extrusive igneous rock forms. At one point in time, the overhang and rounded mountains across the valley were connected, and the basalts joined together. 

Our last stop on the first day of our Yellowstone extravaganza was the Mud Volcano. Unfortunately, we were delayed on the boardwalk by bison. Indeed, bison. They were just chillin’ next to the walkway, sometimes crossing from one side to another. Now, seeing as we are all quite reasonable people, we stayed a safe distance away, meaning we were stuck until they passed through. Finally, as if Moses himself had parted them, the bison moved far enough away that we could pass. Our first stop was the Churning Cauldron, a bubbling brown mix that smelled oh so wonderfully of rotten eggs. Mmmmmm, tasty. With the wind blowing directly into our faces the entire time, we got the full sensation of the uncomfortably moist mist of Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S in case y’all were wondering about the chemical formula (: ). We learned about the formation and properties of the Churning Cauldron, which is a lot of technical, sciencey blab that I’m sure you don’t want me to go on about. Seriously, don’t get me started. We walked around the rest of the looping boardwalk, experiencing the heavy fumes billowing off the mud pits. We also enjoyed how everything seemed to be brighter and happier after taking a few deep wafts of the surely medicinal, sulfuric fog. But, on a serious note, everything there was amazing and we had an awesome time seeing the wildlife and naturally occurring volcanic springs. Truly a once in a lifetime experience… unless you go again. Then it’s a twice in a lifetime experience. 

With our heads bursting with knowledge, and frustration at tourists who held up traffic for the greater part of 20 minutes to view two antlerless elk, we made our way to Madison for dinner. On the way, we became privy to what was perhaps the most educational piece of information all day. We had the unique opportunity to travel through a remote location where a crime could be committed without persecution. For safety reasons we cannot disclose this information on the interweb, however, we assure you no children were harmed in the composition of this blog. Once arrived in Madison, many of us ended our day with a nice juicy bison burger. Although some students experienced moral conflict over consuming the animals we had admired all day, the consensus was almost unanimous that bison is quite tasty. 

Your ROCKing Bloggers:

Julia, Anna, and (most importantly) Kole

GeoDESLA day 2 – Chucking things into rivers and calling it science!

By Olivia, Hanna, and Way

After a delicious breakfast we went to rock creek and took our time to observe the water and questioned ourselves why the creek is the way it is and how the creek is affected. We found out that there are different ways that a river is effected from the amount of stability the river has to the increasing amount of sediment the river carries. we measure the pH, (how acidic or basic the water is) the hardness, (how much the water has eroded and reacted with the rocks) and the Nitrate and Nitrite (how much humans affect the water and its nutrients).

The river can change depending on how much velocity it has and the amount of water that is traveling in the river. During our time at rock creek we were tasked with finding the Discharge of the creek by finding the volume and velocity of the water. However finding the width of the creek proved to be a problem. We couldn’t walk to the other side of the river because of safety hazards. So we brainstormed an idea of wrapping the rock with the measuring tape and throwing the rock to the other side of the creek. Some teams were better at this than others. We had to get the length, width, and the velocity. Each team picked a starting and end point to time their marshmallow, finding the velocity. This measurement then became our lengthy. The width was an estimation or some teams decided on tying a rock to a measuring tape and throwing it to the other side of the creek. This proved to need multiple attempts. After this we packed up and headed to our next site for lunch.

The 2nd site we visited was following Rock Creek, the same as the previous site, upriver. This site was in the town of Red Lodge so immediately we noticed some major differences from our first site. The rocks within the creek that had been moved down through time were bigger than downstream now becoming definite boulders. The boulders along the sides were man placed to help prevent erosion along the main road. The town has also built a wall along the creek for this same reason. This directly changes how the creek looks and behaves.

Rock Creek in Red Lodge

We noticed there was more white water meaning it was rather shallow compared to the last site. After lunch we split up into groups and measured the PH, NO3+NO2, along with the hardness of the water. Our assounding results were that of nearly no change besides the general landscape. Unfortunately we could not throw rocks across this area to measure the width or the depth of the creek so we resorted to guesstimating. We found that the discharge was also rather close to site 1. After we had done our experiments we refilled on water and headed out to our next area.

After a quick break at a gas station, we drove to the East Terrace of the Rock Creek, which is an area of flat sediment deposited by glaciers approximately twelve thousand, or more, years ago. Here we sketched the gorgeous view of the West Terrace, rivers, mountains, and the town of Red Lodge.

Next, we traveled over to the West Terrace to learn about groundwater wells. Some wells are drilled into the terrace ranging from ten to thirty feet deep. However, other wells are drilled over one hundred feet into bedrock, despite gathering less water than the shallower wells on the terrace. These bedrock wells are more reliable for cleaner drinking water since they are not as susceptible to contamination from human activity (fertilization) as the wells drilled in the terrace.

Later, when we returned to YBRA we attempted to predict the annual hydrographs (graph of the changes in the amount of water present throughout the year) of the streams and the wells. We learned that in both the wells and streams the amount of water is the lowest during the winter (November to January) and steeply increases in the spring and continues to increase during the summer months, until August, when it begins to decrease. In fact, the rate of increase during the spring is steeper than the rate of decrease during late-summer, which is interpreted to be due to the rapid melting of ice and snow in the mountains during spring. The hydrology of this are is very interesting and we enjoyed learning about the morphology of the river.

GeoDESLA Day 1 Introduction to Geology

By Angie, Lauren, and Henry

The first day of GeoDESLA started with an introduction to geology but before that when we all woke up we got to experience a beautiful morning. The sun was shining and the morning was very cool. Henry who is from houston was very amazed by the sights because he is not used to seeing any mountains in the morning. After breakfast Our director Rosie Oaks explained the 3 different types of rocks(Igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic) so we were able to recognize them out in the field. We also learned how to describe the various aspects of rocks so that they are easily identifiable. We then applied these skills in the Ybra quarry!

The quarry rocks were white to oxidized orange, chalky, easily broken (there were chunks the size of water bottles next to dust of the same rock and everything in between) yet hard and jagged. When looked under a lense, they appeared to be made of very fine well sorted sediment, such as silt or clay. What do you think this rock is? Its Limestone. We dumped acid on it to confirm. Because it fizzled under hydrochloric acid, we knew that it was limestone.

After that adventure, we set out to beiger pastures in the Bighorn Basin. We observed sedimentary rock layers, one of which was black and charred. This layer in the sediment marked the mass extinction that killed the dinosaurs. This layer contained charcoal from the trees that died during that era, which some of us collected samples of and smeared in our notebooks. It was a strange feeling, touching the dirt that some of the last dinosaurs walked on.

We then walked down to a small valley, one that held the remains of many dinosaurs and possibly more that have yet to be excavated. This place was nicknamed “Mordor,” for being a few degrees hotter than the surrounding area. The walk down there was led by Henry and a few others, with Angie and a few others enthusiastically following.

The walk down to Mordor

After finishing the walk, on our way back we stopped for ice cream and milkshakes at Red box care at Red Lodge. It felt so good, refreshing, and relieving after that long walk. Once we got back to YBRA we were taught about both topography and geological maps, but all through the class, thunder rumbled in the distance. The edge of a storm rolled over camp and as the dinner bell rung, it rained. When dinner was over and some time had passed, another lesson was held covering geological maps and how to read them. We learned that older rocks surround the basin on the surface while the newer ones are in the central parts of the basin.

Angie and Lauren are not so happy about tonight for the army of moths will attack again. They come into the cabin for the LIGHT and attack us as we lay in bed with our phones. Bring a blanket and pull it over your head, for then they will have a smaller target. Till the next day….

Lights out on Day 1

By Marie Kurz – GeoDESLA Instructor

Our advanced guard of 3 has now grown to 26: 19 students and 7 staff in a little fleet of 4 Ford Expeditions. In an auspicious start to the week, and a vast improvement on last year, everyone arrived on time with all their bags in tow. We drove up to YBRA with enough time to find our cabins and drop off bags before heading to the Lodge for dinner. Tonight was busy, but it will only get more so – YBRA will be almost at capacity with 72 come Monday. After dinner we gathered in our classroom for staff introductions, an overview of safety, daily logistics and camp rules, and to hand out some useful swag. Then, with a beautiful sunset in the background and the lights of Red Lodge coming on down below, we set out to learn everyone’s names during games of no-ball volleyball and human chess. Now everyone is tucked in, the staff have sorted all our gear for tomorrow and it’s time to say good night to GeoDESLA 2019 Day 1.

P.S. In addition to the blog, you can follow our adventures on Instagram, @GeoDESLA.

The whole crew (minus photographer Chris V.) with the ephemeral Grizzly Peak “volcano” in the background.

We’ve Arrived!

By Katy Estes-Smargiassi – GeoDESLA Assistant Camp Director

We’ve Arrived!

Rosie, Katy, and Marie arrived in Billings late on Thursday night and made their way to Red Lodge on Friday to begin scouting out some of last year’s sites and see what’s changed in a year. Our very first stop was the all-important Walmart trip to pick up the last few supplies and snacks. After Rosie kept the rest of us from getting too distracted, we grabbed a pack lunch and headed out to Rock Creek, where Marie will be teaching her fluvial geomorphology lesson. We were glad we stopped- the creek water was much higher than in summer 2018! We made a few changes to how we’d arrange Monday’s lesson and then hopped back into the truck to do some more scouting.


Our next stop was to scout our trail for the final day hike we did last year. The views were stunning! Rosie was our diligent note-taker for the hike, ensuring that we know every detail of the trail.

After a quick stop in town we finally arrived at YBRA. For Rosie and Marie, it was wonderful to be back at camp and to see many old friends. For Katy, it was exciting to be there for the first time and to experience the beautiful views. After a long day, it was nice just to grab a shower and have dinner with friends in the lodge before doing some final planning before bed.

We can’t wait to meet all of the students this afternoon! See you soon!