Centennial Mountains & Valley, Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, MT
As part of my three-week residency at the Taft-Nicholson Environmental Humanities Education Center, I embarked on a series of long walks, trying to traverse the length of Odell Creek, from its beginning where it trickles out of the cirque basin of Slide mountain to the wetlands of Lower Red Rock Lake. Odell Creek is an origin stream of the Missouri River, one of the great water highways of Manifest Destiny. For thirty years, my place-based installations have focused on how the United States has been manifested and the marks left on the landscape as we have “unsettled” this country. The creek descends through Engelmann spruce and sub-alpine fir and into the high meadows of sage and balsamroot past the USDA Experimental Sheep Station. It parallels the old Pack Trail cutting through a 600’ deep canyon of rugged steep walls of Paleozoic rock on the western side of Sheep Mountain. It then enters the flat valley floor where it quietly meanders through moose habitat of willow, turning and bending, bowing and circling its flow into the shallows of Lower Red Rock Lake.