August 24, 2009
Trip Spurred Great Student Memories for Brooks
Professor of Biology Emeritus Austin Brooks - The “Fly Fishing, THE Liberal Art” freshman tutorial pre-course immersion trip has been a truly wonderful experience for the students and for this retired biology professor.
This excursion with my friend, former colleague and frequent fishing partner, Professor David Hadley, and his 12 freshmen, has clearly identified what I miss most about teaching — the students. The energy, enthusiasm and curiosity that these young men exude are contagious. I have had the pleasure of fly fishing great rivers, partnering with former departmental colleague Dave Krohne to show the students the unique features of Yellowstone National Park, feeling the exhilaration of white water rafting and savoring the natural beauty of Montana in the company of twelve great young men who are fast becoming true Little Giants.
Thanks guys for helping me to remember the joys of teaching.
August 21, 2009
Hadley Has No Doubts Fly Fishing is THE Liberal Art
Professor David Hadley - I have taken considerable ribbing from colleagues and friends about this class I am teaching this semester—Fly Fishing: THE Liberal Art. With an immersion trip to Montana to boot! Chuckle, chuckle. Two days of fly fishing. A tour of Yellowstone Park. All topped off with a white water rafting trip down the Yellowstone River. “And we pay you for that?” asked one. You call this education, a few probably wondered.
Yes, on both counts. That became clear today as we rafted down the Yellowstone.
I think education, especially liberal arts education, opens us to seeing the world in new and different ways. As we moved down the river today and I listened to the conversations among these twelve young men, I knew that their education had begun. They already were seeing their world, or an important part of it, differently.
Something they had seen many times before --water in a river--had become something more. They looked at the water for the places where fish would hold waiting for their next meal. They recognized seams in the water’s flow where faster moving current would dump insects into slowly moving, energy conserving eddies for fish to feast upon. As we passed through clouds of insects, some saw a “hatch.” These were not just bugs swarming around in the air, but insects emerging from their larval stage spent under water. They knew the water at the bottom of the river was teaming with creepy, crawly life that sustained the fish and gave them their beautiful rainbows, the brilliant orange swooshes that marked the cutthroats, and the distinctive spots identifying the healthy brown trout. When they passed huge irrigation systems spraying water drawn from the river onto fields in full-sun, 90-degree heat, they saw water wasted that could be used for the same purpose, but more efficiently and helping to preserve and conserve the water for other uses, including sport and recreation.
As we drew near the end of the raft trip, I knew these young men’s liberal education had begun. Snippets of their conversations, interspersed with the banter and silliness that has been increasing throughout the week, convinced me that they would seldom drive across a bridge or along a stream and see it as just another creek or river. They will see or wonder about its health, its fishability, where it goes and how it gets there, what impedes it, for what and how well is it used. This is education.
And, yes, I do get paid for it. Not more money, but the reward of eyes opened to seeing the world in new and different ways. Is that enough reward for beginning my 41st year at Wabash a week early?
Yep, I guess it must be. It was reward enough to make me, just days shy of a birthday I would just a soon not celebrate, join the class in climbing onto the railing of a bridge 20 feet above the Yellowstone River and jumping with them into the cold waters below. It seemed a most fitting way to end this immersion trip. What a way for us all to jump into their Wabash education—with a leap into the swirling opal waters of the Yellowstone River. It was exciting, exhilarating, and more than a little scary. But we took the plunge together.
In photos: Top right, Hadley talking with Brian Grossenbacher '90 while the students got their fishing license. Lower left, the members of the freshman Fly Fishing Tutorial with Aus Brooks on the left and Hadley standing far right.
Perkins '89: Experience Adds to Connection to Wabash
Jeff Perkins '89 - This week I’ve had the opportunity to convene with nature, twelve members of the class of 2013, three knowledgeable faculty and two other Wabash Alums who have made the beautiful state of Montana their home.
It’s hard for me to believe that 24 years ago I too was a freshman beginning my lifetime journey with the College, having then more questions than answers:
What will the future hold for me at Wabash?
What are the right choices for me at the college and beyond?
What exactly is a liberal arts education and where will it lead me in life?
Our time with these twelve men produced similar questions and dialogue as we began to find answers in the common experience of fly-fishing.
Wabash has a way of fostering indebtedness to her students, faculty and alums.
This week – being no exception - has taken me back to a time when I entered Wabash through the eyes of these students who are in Professor David Hadley’s Freshman Tutorial: Fly Fishing – The Liberal Art. Prior to the trip we all read Norman Maclean’s A River Runs Through It as a basis for our experience in Montana and Wyoming, which sometimes served as a common dialogue on the water and in our travels. I will not recount the week day by day as the students have done a wonderful job of this in their blogs.
I suppose days filled with fresh air on the river, in Yellowstone National Park and riding horseback through Montana make one reflect and become more introspective. Byron Trippett, a Wabash legend, who graduated class of 1930 and went on to be President of the College, reminded us that:
“Once on this familiar campus and once in these well-known halls, students and teachers as real as ourselves worked and studied, argued and laughed and worshiped together, but are now gone, one generation vanishing after another, as surely as we shall shortly be gone. But if you listen, you can hear their songs and their cheers. As you look, you can see the torch which they handed down to us."
I listened for these songs and cheers not in the halls at Wabash but on the rivers and trails of Montana. I am humbled to have had the opportunity to fly fish with part of the future of Wabash College: members of the class of 2013 and a few faculty and alums. I am reminded of the value of a liberal arts education through my experiences this week and what it has offered me over the years.
Norman Maclean wrote, “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.” Wabash is like a familiar place on a river one can return to now and then. They say you can never step in the same river twice.
I return home rejuvenated and thankful for my association with the college and all she offers those of us who are associated with her.
And as for all those questions and conversations about fly fishing, the liberal art, I turn to Norman Maclean’s A River Runs Through It when he asks, “How can a question be answered that asks a lifetime of questions?” Gentlemen, enjoy the journey of a lifetime, your Wabash education and experience.
And as for me, the river and Wabash have again helped to update the answers to those questions. Wabash only gets better as the years pass. Experiences like this week add to that connection to the past and vision for the future.
Today these newfound fly fishermen are on the way back to Indiana to meet their full class and begin the lifetime journey we know as Wabash College. As I part with these twelve freshmen classmates at Bozeman Airport this afternoon, I wish a richness of experiences, friendships and learning to the entire class as President White officially rings you in as the class of 2013.
There’s a familiarity to the place, but what is new each time is each of you. Your time at Wabash is short, as is our time in the world. Thousands of men have passed through Wabash since I was there. We flow through that very unique liberal arts institution, a river of humanity, of learning, and of community.
On behalf of those who preceded you, welcome to Wabash College.
Grossenbacher Helped Teach Important Lesson
Brian Grossenbacher '90 - August 17 rolled around and after a couple years of planning I was driving to the fly shop to meet a small group of Wabash students for the start of their freshman tutorial. I felt good, I felt strong. As I checked their fishing licenses to make sure that everyone was legal I suddenly felt sick. Not the kind of sick that can make you miss a day of work, but the kind of sick that kicks you in the stomach ... the kind of sick that makes you want to buy a Corvette or a hairpiece or a gym membership.
These kids were born in 1990 - the same year that I graduated from Wabash. Impossible! As I stumbled to my truck, I resented them for their youth - and like Joseph Conrad, I cursed them for it. It seemed like yesterday that I was reporting to football camp, pledging Beta ... how is it that almost 20 years have slipped by?
I remembered the confidence that I brought to campus. The cocky swagger that was knocked into submission by homecoming week.
Suddenly, I could taste the lack of sleep, my miniscule grade point average at mid term, final term. Just as I was brought down to earth by my first semester at Wabash, the trout had something in mind for these incoming plebes. On the water, we were all reminded that according to Teddy Roosevelt that, "All men are equal before trout." I watched one frosh miss over 30 fish. On the hook set, he was either too fast, too slow or sometimes non responsive. Regardless, he never quit, and more importantly his attitude never changed. As a true Wabash man he committed himself to making himself better, he sought advice to achieve his goals, and he committed himself to achieving them. At the end of the day he had a smile on his face, and a trout to his name.
Of all of the students that filled this course each showed themselves as gentlemen, and more importantly scholars that will hopefully go through life with a fly rod in their hands and special thanks to the Wabash Community.
In photo: Grossenbacher with Professor Hadley. The Grossenbacher family hosted the Tutorial group for a dinner the night of their arrival.
Great Reflections From Hadley, Alums Yet to Come
EDITOR'S NOTE: Reading these blogs and seeing the great photos from Montana has been an amazing experience for all of us back in Indiana
Readers will find three new student postings from Thursday's activities below. All three young men described the day-ending experience of jumping off a bridge into the Yellowstone River.
It's fun to note they were all quite excited that Professors David Hadley and David Krohne joined with them for the experience-ending leap!
At right is a sequence of photos taken by Jeff Perkins '89, who made a generous contribution making this trip possible. He and Professor David Hadley have taken the photos in these blogs.
This trip was full of alumni participation. When the young men arrived for their rafting trip with Flying Pig, run by Geoff Faerber '98, they learned one of their guides would be Nick Roudebush '08. (in photo at left.)
Tomorrow look for reflections from Brian Grossenbacher, Perkins, and a great summary from Professor Hadley.
Lopp Details a Day of Great Fun with Classmates
Mack Lopp '13 - Today the whole fly fishing class went on an expedition with Flying Pig Adventures. The swift, untamed Yellowstone River created a perfect place to go white water rafting along with a family from Illinois.
As we floated down the river, we passed the majestic YellowstoneNational Park, a mountain slope looking identical to a strip of bacon, floated over two sunken train cars full of whiskey, passed through Yankee Jim's Canyon without being held up by him and his friendly shot-gun, and many others unnamed. While on the river we smashed through massive waves, rammed into gigantic boulders, and "road the bull." It was where two people put their cowboy hats on, saddled up, and strapped onto the front of the raft. These two led the group into the rapids challenging everything the raging river could throw at us.
Unfortunately, Jason was the first of many to get bucked off into the river not lasting the eight seconds a TRUE bull rider is required. Water wars were constantly fought throughout the day. Patrick tried to take my raft out quickly by attacking our guide and successfully pulled him into the river leaving us without a captain. Thankfully Aus was there to take the reigns and guide us all to safety.
After weathering the storm, we recovered and struck back by dragging Jeff into the frigid waters. Blood and tears were shed during battle but eventually a treaty was made between the two Wabashrafts to join sides and make a barge out of them. From there, everyone swam doing dives, flips, and unfortunately some nasty flops that added to the pain of sunburn into the icy waters leaving us shivering until the sun eventually warmed us up.
With fly fishing in mind from the experiences earlier in the week; everyone, especially Steven, kept saying, "Ooh, that would be a nice fishing spot, what about that one or maybe this one." He and Professor Hadley would follow that up by wishing for a rod in hand. These memories were fun and all, but the best memory was yet to be experienced.
The whole Wabash class including all the professors and Curtis form Illinoisdecided to jump off of a twenty foot bridge. We all lined up, counted to three, and fell to the Yellowstonecreating an enormous splash. It was amazing and yes, we do have pictures to show for it thanks to Jeff. He decided it was more important for us to have pictures to remember the jump instead of him joining us- Thanks for always looking out for us Jeff!
Later that afternoon, the class loaded into the vans and headed for the ranch to do some old fashioned transportation, horse-back riding. I was driving the one and only Banjo through the rocky hills of Montana. He minded well for the most part, but Stevens’s horse, Brown Jug, was a trouble maker kicking Jim's horse right in the side. We then had an excellent dinner and returned to the hotel to rest up for the long day of traveling that is ahead of us.
Borden Talks of Bonding With Classmates
Nathaniel Borden '13 - Some people go to foreign countries for an immersion trip but not our class. Our class went to Montana which in a way is a new country to us, because none of my fellow classmates have ever been here. We were introduced to mountains, canyons, rivers, and many other geological features that many of us have never seen before.
Thursday we headed to Flying Pig Adventures in search for some major rapids, and I think we got what we asked for! Our class broke into two different rafts once we started. Our guide told us that we were pretty lucky; because the water was suppose to be pretty warm. We went over safety instructions and then got at it, but the so-called warm water wasn’t exactly warm by any means. The water was around 60 degrees, and none of us were expecting the cold chills we were about to get. The river started off fairly easy, but then got rough.
We clashed with speed into the waves and water spewed all over us sending shock to everyone. No one was anticipating the rush of the water that was over flowing our boat, but we kept paddling. We went on down the river swimming when possible and having raft wars while our guide was explaining some of the history of the land we were passing. Toward the end of the ride we were given the choice of jumping off of one of the bridges that over looked the water and of course all the students had to do it, but the professors decided to join us which was really cool too and a blast to witness!
After an exhausting rafting trip we changed from our drenched clothes into some nice dry warm ones, and then we headed to the ranch. We got there and then saddled up on some horses which was a sight to watch. After getting our horses and instructions we headed out on the trail which had some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. We finished the horse riding up with a furnished meal by the ranch which was amazing.
It’s hard to believe that I have done so much in such little time here in Montana, but not only have I learned a lot about the state, I have made several good friends in just the beginning of my college career.
Trip Has Farbstein Considering These Guys' Future
Jason Farbstein '13 - You know that you go to a good school when the professors jump off a 30-foot bridge into the Yellowstone River with you. Today the class participated in two activities. Both of the activities, most of the guys had not experienced yet. \
We white water rafted down the Yellowstone River, and rode horses through the beautiful mountains of Montana that reached out for miles and miles. The last day of the trip was very well constructed. It consisted of an exciting morning/afternoon and a peaceful/relaxing evening.
We spent the last few days fishing in the Yellowstone River and traveling around it, but now we all can say that we were in it for most of the day. People were flying in and out of boats today (some on purpose, others not) and everyone had a lot of fun. It was even more fun to watch some of the guides pull us in the river.
All of us ended the trip by jumping off a bridge that looked low from the water, but much higher standing on top. All of us jumped, and felt like the day was fulfilled. We all took a school bus back to the Wild Pig Adventure’s, and it turned out it was Steven’s first school bus ride ever.
In the evening we all swung over oddly named horses for an hour ride. Some of the horse’s behaved better than others. Hollywood (my horse) learned how to be controlled after about half of the ride. Brown Jug (Steven’s horse) did not do so well. He kicked Jim’s horse, and it wasn’t a pretty site. After the ride, we all unsaddled and have some of the best steak that I have ever tasted. All of us seemed to be very happy with what happened today.
The crash course on fly fishing is finally coming to an end, and I think that everyone enjoyed the trip. It seems as if no one is to fond of going back to Indiana. There have been so many great experiences for everyone. The class of 12 definitely learned a lot. For example, the unlimited amount of information given to all of us about geysers and “Burn sites” by Professor Brooks and Professor Khone.
We also heard many great stories such as “Yankee Jim” told by Nick the river guide (A Wabash College Alum.) This trip has also been a good bonding experience for all of the guys. I know that I have made a lot of good friends throughout this trip. Everyone has shared their experiences with each other, and I am sure that the friendships made on this trip will continue to grow through college and the years to come after.
Another great lesson leaned on this trip is that after graduating from Wabash College people can and will continue their lives through many different fields. For example, on this trip to Montana, the class has met four Alums that each do something different. Nick and Geoff are river guides, Brian is a fly fishing guide and Jeff is a consultant. It would be interesting to find out where each person in this freshmen tutorial is going to be in 10 years.
At the beginning of the course I was amazed that it only took 96 seconds for the class to fill up, but now after the trip I am surprised that the class didn’t close with in six seconds. The trip was an overall success, and I couldn’t dream of anyone that would not have a great time on this trip as well!
August 20, 2009
Drews '13 Spent Day Fishing with Alum
Will Drews '13 - Waking up this (Wednesday) morning proved to be one of the most challenging tasks of the day. The trip yesterday to Yellowstone sapped the energy out of everyone, especially my roommates and I. We had two alarms set for different times, but neither was sufficient to even make us turn in our sleep. So we all unfortunately had to hurry, with less than a half an hour, to get cleaned up and grab a bite to eat before hopping in the van to go on our second day of fly-fishing.
Before I go on about the day, I would like to acknowledge that this has been one great trip, and I thank Professor Hadley for being able to organize such an endeavor. The fly-fishing experiences we have had on this immersion trip have just been so awesome. I’m still dumbfounded about how lucky each of us signed up for this class have been to be able to spend a week in this beautiful part of the country, allowing us the chance to get to know some fellow classmates and learn so much before school even starts.
The fly-fishing guides we have been able to work with are amazing. In our eyes, they seem to have mastered this difficult activity, which has often been labeled as impossible to master. In what appears like a sixth sense, the guides are able to identify the most likely spots for fish to lie, easily multiplying our chances of catching a fish. One of the great aspects of our fly-fishing experience has been the opportunity to work with a couple different guides and learn different techniques from different guides. At the same time, we have also been switching fishing partners, allowing us plenty of time to get to know one another.
Today, I was partnered with Jeff Perkins '89, and our fishing guide was Chuck. Jeff and I thoroughly enjoyed the day of fishing on the Madison River. Chuck was great and allowed us to fish on the boat and in the water. We floated down the majestic river, taking quick glimpses of the beautiful countryside in between the long stretches of hard concentration on our flies as we fished. Several times we stopped in some shallows to feel the crisp, refreshing water as we waded and fished.
While some people might say that our catches of the day were disappointing, with both of us catching only a couple of fish, I would say that it was more rewarding.
Jeff had been striving to catch a fish after many close calls on Monday and today. The accomplishment beaming from his face after his first catch would easily outshine a pro catching a hundred fish in a day. Even though I thoroughly enjoy the feeling I get when I’ve set a fish and am challenging it in the battle of fishing, I am just fine with only getting a couple of catches. If you are always getting fish to hook, then you miss part of the excitement and anticipation that builds up when you’re waiting for that fish to bite; something Jeff and I experienced a lot today.
It was hard getting out of the water and knowing that this was the last time we’ll be fly-fishing, at least for awhile. However, after the long day on the river all of us were exhausted and were ready to just relax. We finished the day with an eye-opening presentation from Laura Ziemer of Trout Unlimited and dinner. This was a nice way to end an exciting, tiring day on the river.
In photos: Top right, guide Chuck shows off one of the day's catch with Will Drews. Center left, Drews and Perkins head down river. And at bottom right, Drews with Professor David Hadley.
The Beauty Captivates Daniel Turnbow '13
Daniel Turnbow '13 - The awe-inspiring beauty of the Yellowstone River ought to be the focus of any beautiful day spent on it, the play of the light between them the highlight of a cruise, and the incredibly close encounters with four undaunted deer, which are stunning to even one who’s seen too many to care in any other setting.
What should be and what catching a20-inch Big Brown Trout as a first fish of the day are entirely different. With each new fish on the line, the river, state, country, world, the universe seemed to end at the end of each cast. Casting a dry fly has no equal in anything grounded solely in the arts or sport when perfected; it is the fine art of sport. The reward for a perfectly executed cast is still only a spot in the water no matter how fun or artful it was to get it there; the game is won with a litany of other fine adjustments and constant diligence.
I spent the day engrossed in the world, the art, the sport and was drug further in with fish after fish and the joy surrounding each beautiful fish. Because of stoic nature, my guide expressed my excitement for me, pointing out the profound majesty of each haul - twenty at least in total - ranging from the ubiquitous White Fish to the obscure Cutbow Trout. It was a fever that did not end until I reeled in my final cast at the end of our drift.
Only then did I truly take stock of the breath-taking scenery, perfect light and the true value of all I had caught. Only then did the day feel real, tangible, memorable. Only then did the universe return to normal, beyond the reach of my cast.
Martin '13 Appreciates Professor's Knowledge of Parks
Jim Martin ‘13 - When Theodore Roosevelt established the National Parks, he stated, “"There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, […], the Canyon of the Yellowstone, the Three Tetons; and our people should see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children's children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred."
I have had the ability to see several National Parks, but I was ecstatic when a guided trip through Yellowstone Park was added as a significant part of our itinerary. I only dreamt of the experience the class would have, and my impressions were surpassed by the stunning magnificence of the scenery before us.
Majestic beauty, a term reserved for only the most impressive and intricate of sights, is a classic example of the Liberal Art education Wabash College offers. Many tourists and groups travel to Yellowstone, see the various attractions, and leave. Professor Hadley, Professor Krohne, and retired Professor Brooks provided an education far beyond what was simply at “face value.”
Professor Krohne, shared his research, and showed his passion for the biology of the spectacular national asset. His knowledge of the history of the park was fascinating, and he shared his research on the forest fires that he has been acquiring for over 20 years. A unique experience was traveling to the same sites that he photographed in the late 1980’s, and observing the changes and similarities that he has been researching.
The retired Professor Brooks, who also was my fishing partner, shared his extensive knowledge of plant and aquatic life forms. Professor Brooks brought us to a hot spring, and shared the simple ecosystem that provided life to many plants and animals in the area.
Even Professor Hadley, a Political Science Professor, provided knowledge of fly-fishing, geology, and the entomology involved. This added another dimension to the biology and fishing lessons during our tour of Yellowstone.
Majestic beauty, all unmarred, was apparent to each student; and even as the class continues the trip, we learn new and interesting aspects of our environment.
August 19, 2009
Lewis '13 Harkens the Ghost of Montana
Wyatt Lewis '13 - Although I woke up at 6:30 today, my morning didn’t truly begin until I stepped outside and took my first deep inhalation of crisp mountain air, sampling all the brisk morning had to offer. I looked around and saw that my fellow students were just as bleary-eyed as I was, but despite this, everything seemed to be tinged with excitement. You could sense it everywhere - in the frigid air we breathed, in the anticipatory silence we clung to, and the energy the professors exuded. Today we would visit Yellowstone, and the mood was infectious.
See more photos from Tuesday in a photo album here.
It’s hard to describe the West to someone who’s never been there - as an Indiana resident, I was born and raised in rolling plains of cornfields and soy beans; my idea of fun on the weekends was to visit the local apple orchard or the movie theatre in town. But Bozeman is something special. The moment we arrived in town, I was in love. It’s impossible not to be struck by Montana’s austere beauty-imposing mountain ranges lather the countryside, capped white still by the previous night’s snow, and clouds flit across the state otherwise known as the “Big Sky Country.”
The mountains loom over you, reminding you of nature’s grandeur and serving as wonderful inspiration. And the rivers are simply majestic. I’ve done my best to breathe deep not only of the cool air here, but of the West itself.
Our trip to Yellowstone was simply unforgettable. After the hour-and-a-half long drive spent trying to rid ourselves of drowsiness in whatever way possible (for some reason Wal Marts in Bozeman sell heartily-sized cans of mango nectar for a mere 38 cents), we gathered around Professor Krohne to hear him discuss Yellowstone’s geological history and it’s life cycle of death and rebirth through the forest fires. I’ve found that our experience at Yellowstone has been heightened indefinitely by Professors Krohne and Brooks’ knowledge of the park and biology.
From this moment on, words become insufficient to describe the trip - we visited canyons and valleys, geysers and hot springs, rivers and small, rambling brooks, even stopping a couple times to visit sites where Professor Krohne had been photo recording Yellowstone’s growth throughout the past decade or so. I can only hope that the pictures I know will be uploaded to the website can show some small portion of the sheer sublime presence of the mountains.
In my opinion, the only negative aspect of the day’s trip was the stop for lunch. We drove to this little town located within the park that was littered with gift shops and restaurants, all of which were highly trafficked and tourist based, leaving a bitter taste in my mouth. For a few moments, I found myself back in that which I had so happily escaped from. To my relief, we left quickly and then had a pleasant experience at a cool mountain creek, where we listened to Professor Krohne give a lecture on river ecology and spent the next half hour wading in the river and overturning rocks looking for mayflies, caddis flies, and stone flies.
The cool water managed to dispel the after-lunch lethargy that seemed to be present in everyone, as well as the unpleasant feeling that I still had lingering from my time spent among the gift shops and cafeterias.
The rest of the day was marvelous as well; once again, I won’t do Montana the injustice of putting it’s beauty into words - I’ll just say that the rest of the day was well spent visiting fumaroles and mudpits, observing wildlife walking in front of our van, watching Old Faithful erupt, and listening intently to Professor Brooks explain how the study of microbiology began with the discovery of a small bacteria called thermus aquaticus that lives among the red algae present in the creeks at Yellowstone.
I’ll just say that Montana is riveting; tomorrow will be another day spent on the water fly fishing, and I suppose that in my own way, I also am “haunted by waters.” It’s my hope that the ghost of Montana will follow me in my memory when we depart this place, beckoning me to come back, and that one day, I might be able to answer that call.
Photos: Top left, Wyatt Lewis is in photo on far left.
Neary '13 Impressed with Area's Beauty
Patrick Neary '13 - We started the day off by looking at the trees. We noticed how the lifecycle works after a forest fire. It was neat how different areas respond. That was neat however, everyone wanted a little more.
About eleven o'clock our dreams came true. We noticed a bunch of cars stopped on the road. Then we noticed the reason, a buffalo was just chilling out next to the road. However, the best buffalo experience was about thirty minutes later. We noticed the traffic blocked up for about half a mile because a couple buffalo had decided to walk down the middle of the road with the park rangers running them off with there trucks. One walks about 5 inches form our van. This was the highlight of the day.
These are memories that I will never forget, Yellowstone is one of the most beautiful places on earth.
August 18, 2009
Orton '13 Finding Reward in the Experience
Alex Orton '13 - Today was our first day of fly fishing. Well, I think I fished; I’m not yet sure if casting your fly into the water and watching it float there for 8 hours counts as fly fishing. The least I can say about the day is it was a learning experience.
See Jeff Perkins '89 is traveling with the group. See his photos from Monday's excursion here.
I find it selfish to complain when I am traveling 11 miles down the Yellowstone River with bald eagles flying above us, crystal clear water below us, and beautiful mountains all around us. It was just a tad bit frustrating, only made worse by the fact that the fish were biting, but I was not quick enough to hook them. Our tour guide Brian Grossenbacher, a Wabash alumnus of 1990, said to me after what seemed like about the 30th fish that got away, 'Alex, what did you do to the fish gods this morning?'
After the day was over, all I had caught was a 4-inch trout, which I don’t wish to count but I am just so I can savor the little pride I have left. What I am slowly beginning to understand is while the goal of fly fishing is to catch fish, it’s really not about the fish at all. It’s about the experience and the struggle, being out on the water and using all your skills and brain-power to try and feel satisfied with yourself. In reality, the fish sit in the water all day without a care for you, your fly, or anything else in the world, so you can’t blame anything but yourself if you can’t catch anything. All in all, after a 4-inch fish and hours of mental struggle, it was a very successful day.
Poe '13: Fishing, Bison All New Experiences
Trevor Poe '13 - The morning started at 7 o’clock. We woke up in order to shower and take advantage of the hotel’s continental breakfast. After breakfast our group left to go to The River’s Edge, which is a fly fishing store in Bozeman. It was here that we met our tour guides for the day. I was paired with Will and our tour guide took us in his truck to the drop-in point for our trip.
The weather was very cold and we could see that it had snowed last night on some of the taller mountains. We soon learned that fly fishing is more difficult to learn than we had thought. Will and I had difficulty casting and our guide had to constantly correct our form. We did not catch many fish at first, but Will was able to reel one in right before we stopped for lunch.
Our boat stopped for lunch with some of the other members of our group. Everyone had a fish story to tell, but we were all eager to get back to fly fishing. On the rest of our trip down river I caught two fish, Will caught eight, and we spent lots of time enjoying the wildlife and scenery that Montana has to offer.
Around 5:30 we reached the end of our long journey down the Yellowstone River. I was glad when the car ride back to Bozeman came; because I was so sunburned I didn’t think I would be able to continue the journey by boat. Around 6:15 Will and I were dropped off at the hotel. We quickly showered and rejoined our group for dinner at the Montana Ale Company restaurant. On the car ride everyone shared their fish stories. Some even talked about fish 24 in. long.
At the restaurant I tried Bison for the first time, and I am pleased to say that it was very good. We told our waitress, Ashley, that it was Jason’s birthday and they brought him a free cheesecake. We are all upset that he didn’t tell us sooner that it was his birthday because we could have received a free dessert at every restaurant. When we got back to the hotel our group went swimming and went to bed. Tomorrow we are going to take a tour of Yellowstone I don’t want to be asleep for any of it.
August 17, 2009
Chang '13 Climbing Mountain a Perfect Start
Steven Chang '13 - Our first day on the immersion trip was definitely an eventful one. Not only was waking up at a very early hour (4:30 am) an interesting start to our day, but the entire process of flying to Montana was an eventful one. Particularly my meeting with John Cena! For those of you who don't know, he's an actor/ex wrestler and he was at the Chicago O'Hare Airport!
When we landed in Bozeman, Montana, the temperature drop was definitely a wake up call to all of us! As we watched the beautiful mountain scenery pass by as we drove to the "M" mountain, we were amazed by the simple yet entrancing elegance of the Montana landscape. When we started the trail to the mountain, we soon found that this particular exploit would be a challenging one. The steep incline quickly tired out our bodies and it definitely made many of us realize that we were very out of shape.
As I climbed up the mountain with my new friend Jim, I realized that this was the perfect beginning to our immersion trip and our time as Wabash students. Slowly walking up the trail and wincing with each grueling step, we finally reached the top and experienced the most beautiful view I have ever seen. It seems that we are in store for a truly amazing time in Montana.
In photo: Chang gets a little help from new friend Jim Martin; at left, one of the first stops was getting the students a fishing license for the week. Biology professor Dr. David Krohne is caught smiling in the cool mountain air!
Kaczkowski '13 Describes Trip's Great Start
Matthew Kaczkowski '13 - Wabash College is a wonderful place. Although I am a freshman, there are so many opportunities at this school. One such opportunity included the chance to take a freshman tutorial called “Fly Fishing: The Liberal Art.” Twelve students, including myself, signed up for this tutorial in a short 96 seconds. After initially reading the course description, I could understand why the class filled to capacity in such a short time. This course granted students an immersion trip to Bozeman, Montana to fly fish and whitewater raft.
To start off our time at Wabash, we arrived on campus on August 15th. As students arrived one by one, we introduced ourselves and talked with Professor Hadley. After we finished the introductions, Mr. Mike Exel, a fly fishing guide allowed us to practice our fly casting technique on the Mall. There was a wedding scheduled so we had to move the operation to Little Giant Stadium. We practiced for quite a while. As our shoulders grew weary from the casting, we adjourned to Professor Hadley’s home for a cookout.
We woke up early Sunday morning and after a long saga of plane flights we arrived in Bozeman at about 11:30 local time. Jeff Perkins ’89 met up with our group at that point. We had a quick lunch then checked into our hotel. It was a good break.
In any event, we went for a “leisurely” hike up what Professor Hadley described as a hill. Our class later found out that the hill was a fairly steep mountain. After a rough hike up the mountain side, our class had a great view of Montana. It was something we were so proud to have done. Professor Hadley gave us a quick rest before he shuttled us off to the house of Brian Grossenbacher ’90, an expert fly fisherman and guide. We were given dinner and Mr. Grossenbacher told us some great stories of fishing and of his time at Wabash. He expressed how the tools Wabash gave him allowed him to do whatever he wanted in life and we all found it fascinating. It was a great meal after which we returned to the hotel for some much needed relaxation.
I don’t know how to really describe the emotions felt through this trip. I have met 11 other freshmen who are genuinely nice people who I am glad to share my first college class with. I have been granted the privilege of taking an immersion trip before I have really even started school. Most of all, I have been invited to participate in what I feel is a trip of a lifetime while learning a new hobby in fly fishing. I am ecstatic about how the rest of this trip will turn out. The start of this trip has involved me in my class work in a way I never thought was possible. I applaud Wabash for this opportunity and cannot wait to start fishing soon.
In photos: Top right, Brian Grossenbacher ’90 and Professor Hadley; lower left, the guys make their way up the mountainside.