In early October, we did a few day hikes around aptly-named Buena Vista, Colorado. The first took us from Denny Creek Trailhead to Browns Pass.
Anna recently completed her Master Naturalist training! The classroom training was extensive and covered subjects from the ecology of the prairie to the geology of the Rocky Mountains.
One of her favorite topics during the training ended up being prairie dogs. They are fascinating creatures, and a true keystone species, with about 160 other species benefiting from their presence. Prairie dogs turn the soil as they dig their complex tunnel systems, inadvertently aerating and fertilizing the soil. They are a great food source for larger animals like eagles, hawks, and ferrets. Plus, their abandoned burrows serve as homes for other animals, like burrowing owls and rabbits.
Master Naturalist training requires not just absorbing information, but also teaching it. In mid-April, each trainee had to create and present a lesson plan on a topic of their choice. Anna decided to give a talk about the water cycle and water conservation, geared towards 3rd graders. Her water cycle drawing connected with people, but the real hit was her Lego dioramas depicting the river and various ways humans use its water. She filled the river container with water, then poured the water into other containers representing a variety of city and agricultural uses. This demonstration visually showed that our water supply is limited, and that we need to conserve and share the water with wildlife.
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Day 137: Snag Creek (Mile 2174.5)-Near Big Huckleberry Mountain (Mile 2197.5); 23 miles
We began the day with a 1500 foot climb, then immediately dropped, losing all the elevation we had just gained. Washington was already showing us its steepness and greenery.
Close to lunchtime, we ran into North Star’s friend Stephen coming towards us on the trail! We had arranged to meet him, but planning on-trail meetings can be challenging. We were excited that it worked out.