Across the Divide

We’ve had an exceptionally busy past couple of days in and around Rocky Mountain National Park and the Colorado River’s headwaters. We got our feet wet on Day Two, figuratively and literally, by exploring an out-of-the-way area called Endovalley on the eastern side of the park. Finding our intended trail washed out (all of the creeks and rivers are at peak runoff stage) we instead went on an off-trail circuit through the woods, including absorbing rock scrambles and interesting stream crossings, before spreading out and settling down by the Fall River for an introductory round of solo quiet time and journaling. In all my years of leading outdoor trips, I’m still surprised by students’ enthusiastic reactions to this practice; we simply don’t get enough opportunities to be stationary and unplugged.

We learn that the bark of Ponderosa Pine trees has an amazing and powerful vanilla smell.

Even a short hike off-trail can yield more adventure than miles of well-trodden path.

Andrew absorbed in his journal.

From there we met up with our guide and host and teacher for the next couple of days, Bob Mann, former director of Shadowcliff and mountain man extraordinaire before heading up and over spectacular Trail Ridge Road.

Lesson on glacial geology high above Horseshoe Park.

Epic snowball fight near the summit. At this elevation I could make and throw about five snowballs before putting my hands on my knees and gasping for breath.

Bob talks to us about watersheds at Milner Pass.

We were a worn-out bunch by the time we arrived at Shadowcliff!

Day Three was no less full. After a classroom session to learn about systems and sustainability, we went out on the water with Kayli Foulk, Executive Director of the Grand County Water Information Network, to investigate how transmountain water diversion projects have impacted Grand Lake on the western edge of the park.

Pontoon boat ride out onto Grand Lake to gather water clarity data.

In the afternoon we hiked along the Upper Colorado, swollen with snowmelt but nonetheless surprisingly small, in the Kawuneeche Valley near the headwaters, finishing in high spirits despite the arrival of a cold, steady rain.

Traversing a snowbank in the Kawuneeche Valley.

Thankfully, by the time we finished dinner back at Shadowcliff, the weather had cleared somewhat. After a wonderful and somewhat mind-blowing presentation by Taylor Quist of the Fiske Planetarium in Boulder about the life cycles of stars, we got a chance to look at Jupiter and all four Galilean moons and our own Moon through her telescope.

We have definitely had a jam-packed couple of days, more than this tired writer can find the energy to adequately voice. A big tip-of-the-hat to Bob Mann and the staff at Shadowcliff for having put together such a slate of programming and guest instructors!

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2 Responses to Across the Divide

  1. Michele Reiner says:

    What a great start to a grand adventure. You have really packed a lot into a few days. Snow seems so foreign as we head into Atlanta’s summer and it is great to see the engaging photos. I can’t wait for the next update.
    PS Austin, call your mother : )

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Austins grandma says:

    What a wonderful experience!

    Liked by 1 person

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