It’s all downhill from here (obligatory Continental Divide joke).
This morning, the gang departed Denver and climbed the Big Thompson River Road for Estes Park, CO. On the way we listened to two year-old radio reports about the catastrophic East Slope flooding in 2013 while driving through the very towns affected by (and currently recovering from) the event. After lunch in Estes Park we headed into Rocky Mountain National Park where we discussed glacial geology and the physical geology of river flow. RMNP is especially beautiful this year as late spring snows have blanketed the high country in white. Above treeline we found a high slope to climb and hung out for an hour on a little peak with incomparable views. A few snowballs were thrown.
At the NPS Visitor Center high up on Trail Ridge Road, we met up with our first “guest speaker,” Bob Mann, former director of Shadowcliff, the retreat center that will be our home for the next three days. Bob led us to the Continental Divide to discuss watersheds and he gave us some important history behind RMNP, the towns of Estes Park and Grand Lake, of the National Park Service, and of Shadowcliff. Bob is the first in a series of stakeholders whose voices will inform the course over the coming two weeks. From here on out, students will be interacting with individuals and groups deeply embedded in the past, present, and future of the river. Students will shift their attention from answering our questions to forming questions of their own . . .