Last summer’s Western Geology class met last week at the Potter house to share photos of their three-week trip to the Grand Canyon, southern Utah, and other parts of the Colorado Plateau. The trip, begun in 1983 and running every two summers, includes the Santa Fe, NM, area, volcanoes near Flagstaff, AZ, the North and South Rims of the Grand Canyon, and the national parks of southern Utah. Most of the trips have ended in Lake City, CO, where John (C’59) and Mary Ann Nichols welcomed the group in 1983 and where Jack (C’84) and Leslie (C’92) Nichols have continued to provide hospitality and wilderness guiding for our final days in the west. The 15 trips have included 400 students, and 26 Sewanee community members have made the three-week camping trip at least once.
The trip follows Professor Bran Potter’s semester-long course on the Colorado Plateau and emphasizes geological study, exploration, and hiking in some of the west’s most spectacular settings, including the largely untracked Capitol Reef National Park. The 2012 class included 27 Sewanee juniors and seniors, and their on-site field presentations ranged from cougar population dynamics in the forested North Rim of the Grand Canyon to the streamside settings for dinosaurs found in the colorful Morrison Formation. The hiking varies from 20-mile days in Canyonlands and the Grand Canyon to short rambles in the Ponderosa Pines of New Mexico. Photo, left: The Sewanee group at the base of SP Crater, a volcano near Flagstaff, AZ. (Everyone had just run down the slope at top speed!)
Last summer’s trip included retired mathematics professor Laurence Alvarez (his 10th) and Tom Sanders of the University Advancement Office. Forestry Professor Ken Smith and his son Sam joined the group in New Mexico and Arizona, where Smith explained the evolving land use planning of the magnificent Valles Caldera, a giant volcanic crater that is now the home for hundreds of elk. (In photo, top right, Ken Smith leads the group into the giant Valles crater near Santa Fe and Los Alamos, NM.)