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Lynn Brant remembers about the 1962 field camp.... most of this narrative is from an article in the Fall 2005 Earth News from the Department of Earth Science, University of Northern Iowa

Lynn Brant

Geology field camp, as any old geologist will tell you, can be quite adventurous, sometimes even educational.  My experience in 1962 was like that.

     After a spring field course of mapping and measuring sections in a Pennsylvania quarry, five of us piled into a brand new International Travelall, the mother of all SUVs, and headed to Montana to see the real thing.  The five of us made it, but the Travelall didn't.  It was a nice, straight portion of a South Dakota highway.  I totaled the vehicle and sent Nan to the hospital in Pierre.  A few days later, we retrieved Nan and resumed our travels in other vehicles of the Penn State caravan.  Nan carried a 40-pound backpack that summer with her recovering collar bone which was broken in the accident.  Tough woman!

     Nan's roommate during her two days in the hospital was Florence Williams, the wife of a rancher, who, I think, had fallen off a ladder. When we came home we stopped at their ranch and had a nice visit. Their place was near a former town site called Wendt. Dick Williams was kind of a show-off. He pretended to be a big drinker, fast in his cars, and all the rest you would associate with a cowboy. Actually, it wasn't a show -- he really was that sort of guy!!  But he was likeable.  We stopped there in 1963 (maybe twice) because I got to know the Williams pretty well over the years.

     We entered southwest Montana and then crossed Centennial Valley on the gravel road that nearly mired several of the vehicles. But, oh, what scenery!  That was as close to heaven as I had ever been.  The green valley and snowcapped mountains set in the "big sky" of Montana!

 Lynn Brant    Penn State's camp was a small Forest Service campground at the end of a long, lonely road.  Lima was ten miles away and the Lima Peaks rose around us.  Accommodations were two persons to a tent, and the dining hall was a tarp strung over a picnic table.  The nearest telephone, refrigerator, and running water were in Lima.  The nearest grocery store and fresh meat were in Dillon, some 40 or 50 miles away.  The camp managers bought food once a week in Dillon, and on that one night each week we had fresh meat, some fresh fruit, maybe some wine, and delicious strawberry pie from Skeet's Cafe.  The rest of the week was kind of thin.  It was that summer that I learned that two eggs for breakfast was a real luxury.  We had a chance to get a shower at the Lima Hotel on Saturday, whether we needed it or not.  By Friday or Saturday my socks stood up by themselves!  The evening entertainment was singing ribald songs around the campfire and, of course, working on our maps.

     Undergrads in camp that summer were Ron Smith (who later got his MS with Al Guber), Ed Dowling, Jim Lovejoy, Art Fuller, Al Bowser, Lynn Brant, Linda Williamson, Peter Groth, Nan Stewart, and Malcolm Stewart. Graduate students, some getting introduced to their thesis work: John Haas [PhD66], Sam Romberger [PhD68], Ivo Lucchitta [PhD67], Baerbel Koesters [PhD66], who later married Ivo and had a career with USGS/NASA, John M'Gonigal [PhD65] and his wife, and Skip Lenker [Earle S Lenker, PhD62], who had his T-bird along. There was a highschool-aged helper, Ron Bortree, Rob and Marsha Scholten, and Peter Scholten (only ten years old that summer but he was as fast up the mountains as his dad!). I think maybe Marsha was the main cook that summer. Then Lauren Wright and Ben Troxel visited for a while and went out with the students to help teach.

     Before going west in 62, one of the veterans from 1961 advised me to always be first up a mountain (to demonstrate enthusiasm). I tried!  But Rob was fast and his wife and son were faster. There were several times I headed up the hill as fast as I could go, and even though I was the first of the students, I was met by the Scholten family on the top!  Once we were some distance from the vehicles when Rob finished his lecture and the whole group headed back. I decided to be first but Rob was ahead of me. Neither of us admitted to being in a race but that we were. He beat me but I gave him a good run!!

     We worked in teams of two, and each team was responsible for mapping a designated area.  Al was my partner, and we mapped a 28-square-mile expanse of mostly Mesozoic sedimentary rocks on the south side of the Lima Peaks.  To reach the area each day we drove a 1948 Jeep (just like the ones used on MASH, except ours was a faded maroon color) to Lima, down the paved road at 40 mph (because that was its top speed) and then several miles across ranch land to where we started our walk of up to seven miles to reach the far corner of our area.  We mapped on air photos.  There were no topographic maps for that part of Montana in 1962.

     One day Al and I tried approaching our area by crossing the mountain.  We got the Jeep up to a grassy meadow near a sheepherder's wagon.  Then we started across the talus toward a saddle on a ridge.  I thought I heard water running, but because we were on boulders on the side of a steep mountain, I couldn't figure out where the water was coming from.  Then I noticed that I heard it only when I took a step.  Holy Smokes!!!  The whole side of the mountain was slowly moving down slope with every step!  Surrounded by big boulders and with a cliff below us, I realized that if we started a rock slide they wouldn't even know where to look for our remains!  We quickly got off the slope and returned to the Jeep, shaken but alive.  No geology done that day!

     When the course ended, the five of us who had been in the ill-fated Travelall started home together.  My companions were Pete, Linda, Nan and Malcolm, plus a ground squirrel in a cage.  Malcolm and I had decided to grow a beard that summer, at a time when nobody grew beards.  Pete was clean-shaven: to impress Linda, I suspect.  Malcolm was married to Nan, so he wasn't trying to impress anyone.  We left Lima in a Plymouth station wagon that had been seriously abused that summer by one of the grad students (always blame the grad students).  We made it to Butte by nightfall, where we tried to turn around in a school and found we had no working transmission.  (I swear, I wasn't driving that time!!)  We were stuck on the edge of a town that had a reputation for being rough.  Besides, the copper miners in Butte had gone on strike that very day.  But we were tough.  We had just spent a summer in the mountains of Montana and we had our sleeping bags.  No problem.  The police didn't see it that way in the middle of the night, though.  We had to explain why we were sleeping in the school yard and why we were driving a vehicle registered to The Pennsylvania State University.  Our beards and the caged squirrel didn't help matters.  Neither did the fact that Pete was in his underwear as he locked up the car again.  "You get some pants on before daylight.  You're in a residential area young man!" said the cop.

     It took two days to fix the transmission, but in the era of sending checks through the mail we waited for six days before the garage would let us go.  Meanwhile we checked into an old hotel in downtown Butte for only $5.00 a night for all five of us, six counting the squirrel.  For that we got a parlor, a bedroom, and a bathroom with a tub, as long as we promised not to sleep in the bed.  So we rolled out our sleeping bags, placed the squirrel on the fireplace mantle and went to sleep.  Money was short.  We made a rule that if you couldn't eat it or read it you didn't buy it!  We ate for five nights in a row in the three Chinese restaurants in town because Nan thought we could get the most food for our buck that way.

     After Butte we traveled to Glacier National Park and home to Pennsylvania through Billings, Montana, and Iowa.  Coming down the long hill into Billings from the rimrocks we heard on the radio "Ramblin Rose" by Nat King Cole for the first time.  Every time I hear that song I think of that sunny, hot day in August so many years ago.

     There were other adventures that summer, like the time the sheriff and I went up that lonely road with a loaded 30-30, which we figured we might have to use (and not on a bear!).  But as everyone knows, there are some stories from field camp best left untold.  Within a few years Pete and Linda got married, Nan and Malcolm got divorced, and Al married my sister.  And I lived happily ever after.