Until now we’ve woken up to blue skies and beautiful views. So, when we looked out our window to see thick clouds and fog, we figured our string of good luck had ended. We started the morning (again, after a phenomenal breakfast at the hands of the Shadowcliff staff) with a boat ride on Grand Lake. Representatives from the Grand County Water Information Network (CGWIN), Trout Unlimited, and Trail River Ranch joined us (Bonnie Severson from TRR even donated her boat) to talk about the history and ecology of Grand Lake, the largest natural lake in Colorado. The kids learned about ongoing water quality monitoring efforts and got the chance to take three readings throughout the lake using GCWIN’s equipment.
After the boat ride, the two representatives from Trout Unlimited joined us at the east end of Grand Lake for a tutorial on fly fishing. All of the students enjoyed learning something new (or picking up an old skill), some completely transfixed by the calming, almost meditative process of line casting. Nonetheless, no fish were caught, all having undoubtedly been spooked to the far side of the lake by our exuberance. Either that, or they sat just offshore and laughed at us.
Just uphill from their fishing spot the kids took a hike up the East Inlet Trail, back into RMNP, to Adams Falls and beyond. We expected to get dumped on at any minute when we set out, but the rain held off, and we were surprised to have an increasingly pretty afternoon to enjoy. Some of the highlights of the hike were the falls themselves, another round of field sketching practice, and the discovery of a well picked elk skeleton. Ms. Notestine brought the kids back to 7th Grade Science class with an in situ anatomy lesson. The kids were very excited by their find. We were grateful to have Bob Mann and Dana Notestine there to lend their expertise at the right moment.
We closed the evening with a sunset drive through the Kawuneeche Valley (west side of RMNP) to see some wildlife. “Some” is the understatement of the day. We saw well over a hundred elk and about a dozen moose. A parade of 12 male adolescent elk descended an eastern slope above the road and crossed over into a pasture right in front of our vans. Another highlight: we stood on the roadside for several minutes as a cow moose crossed a meadow with her bouncy calf in tow.
Tomorrow we depart this lovely place. We will loosely follow the Colorado River across the center of the state through the towns of Granby, Kemmerling, and Grand Junction, arriving in Green River, UT in the mid-afternoon.