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Winter Memories
By Jon Greene, NOLS Intern
Jon Greene travels through the winter on his NOLS Semester in the Rockies.

Sunday, March 9, 2003 was probably one of the most memorable days of the trip for everyone on my Spring Semester in the Rockies. We all got to experience something we had been working hard for and patiently waiting for—the winter section.

A few days earlier, we set out from our camp at Bailey Meadows, well into the Absaroka Mountains. It had been windy and snowing for days but we all wanted to press on to the next highest camp despite the weather. The group set off in the morning on a demanding uphill trek over the ridge we woke up to every morning back in Bailey Meadows. We finally reached a spot that everyone agreed was acceptable for our new camp. The snow kept crankin’ and the winds kept gusting. We all finished building our quigloos (snow shelters); we were cold and tired, and passed out for the night.

Up on our perch, we all knew that if the skies cleared we would have an incredible view of the Grand Tetons. The whole time we worked on our new camp all we could see was the beginning of Jackson Lake and a small island near the shore. It was like the great mountains were testing us—making sure we were worthy and deserving of experiencing something so rare and beautiful. Each camp we made our home at was more aesthetically pleasing than the one before, but this one would prove to be the most superior by far.

On Sunday morning, still half asleep, I crawled out of our small quigloo entrance, looked over our tall kitchen wall and saw the sun poking through the clouds with a thick, heavy rim around it. I knew what that meant. I jumped on our “loveseat,” turned to my right and got my first glimpse of the giants themselves. Although it wasn’t a crystal clear day, the skies gave just enough to stimulate our minds, emotions, and imaginations. For the next few hours we all skied down our new community slope with the mighty Tetons as a backdrop. The beauty only lasted a short while—giving us a small taste of the true beauty of nature. But it was a genuine treat—something that very few are fortunate enough to experience. The images I carry from that day, I know, will last in my mind forever.

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