Touching the Tetons

October 25, 2016 | James Stuart

It’s one of those narrow, meandering paths through the sagebrush that seem to lead to nowhere. Few people will venture down this path away from the convenience of their cars.

But a quarter of a mile farther, our Mount Ellis Academy students enter a lodgepole pine forest. We hike along the edge of an old glacial moraine, a mound of dirt and jagged rock that was pushed out of one of the Teton valleys.

Just on the other side of this moraine is another world. Large boulders lay piled on top of each other. It’s a playground for adventurous students, but more importantly a fire has burned here. We have come to see how nature has bounced back. The young aspens and buckbrush that depend on fire are flourishing.

It’s a unique way to start a school year, outdoor school in the Tetons. Later we will snorkel with schools of brook trout and redside shiners. There is a real need for students to experience nature: to touch it, to connect with it. That’s why we are here.

Oh, and the Teton Range as the backdrop to your outdoor classroom … well, it sure beats the posters on the wall of my other classroom.