Prior to Colorado, I had never been camping, I had never been without electronics or isolated from the rest of the world, I had never been without a shower for more than a week, and I had never done my own laundry. I can now say I have done all of the above…and survived! Throughout the trip, I faced many anxieties and fears. For example: running out of gas in the middle of no where and having to push the vans for endless miles until we reached a gas station. Another fear was trying to fit all of my stuff into a dry bag that I didn’t think was going to be large enough for all my essentials. But by the time we started our journey on the river, I began to relax, forgot all about my worries, and was just enjoying myself and the beautiful scenery.
I think this trip really helped me learn to live in the moment and let go of some of my fears (our bus never ran out of gas, all my essentials fit in the dry bag). I temporarily overcame my claustrophobia when we crawled through the cave dwellings at Mesa Verde. I realized that I didn’t really miss being “connected” (we stayed busy immersing ourselves in our surroundings, with crew work and card games). The laundry was not as hard as I thought it would be, and although I relished my shower after the days on the river, I did manage without one for 7 days (I considered it a start to my efforts at water conservation)! In fact, I have made an effort to take shorter showers daily as a way to conserve water.
There were a number of other firsts on this trip. It was the first time I spent more than 2 weeks away from my family, the first time I ever used a debit card, the first time I slept under the stars, the first time I was ever in 4 states at one time, the first time I tried cliff “diving” and fly-fishing, the first time I had ever seen a dam or walked on a real farm. I cannot even begin to explain everything that I LEARNED on the trip. I had only ever thought that water rights/access were an issue in developing nations. I learned otherwise on this trip. The historical and political issues surrounding water use and conservation along the river are varied and complex. The problem of water conservation has really “hit home” and I don’t really see an easy solution to this ecological problem. This trip has forever changed me. The experiences that I have had, everything I have learned, and the friendships that I made, will always be with me.
In a few weeks we are traveling to Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, etc.. and I am looking forward to applying all that I have learned about glacial geology and watersheds. Glacier National Park serves as the headwater for three continental drainages (Atlantic, Pacific, and Hudson Bay) and is located on both sides of the Continental Divide. I will get to experience the Northern Rockies and see how the melting glaciers (the glaciers are not what they used to be due to changing weather conditions) will impact the geology and biodiversity of the region and what the implications of the melting glaciers are for us. I am looking forward to my trip; and because of my Colorado experience, will see things from a different perspective. Thank you Coach Sadtler, Mr. Meyer, Coach Notestine, and Mrs. Sadtler for the experience and perspective!
Thank you, Ishta, for putting so much of yourself into this course. I love that you’ve modified your behavior (taking shorter showers) as a result of your experience. Given the tremendous demands we put on the rivers surrounding Atlanta, every bit is appreciated. You mentioned quite a few things here that serve as great points of reflection: What do we consider our “essentials” after a trip like this? How can we help address Georgia’s water issues, either by direct action or advocacy? How can we make “immersing ourselves in our surroundings” a daily habit, whether we’re on a river bank or a restaurant with friends or family? How can we continue to address our fears and apprehensions now that we’re back in the “safety” of our home and daily routine?
I hope your family has a great time at Glacier–it’s one of my favorite places. I bet you’ll see it through slightly different eyes because of your experiences along the Colorado River and its tributaries.