Spring highlights

Now that summer has “officially” begun – at least for me – I feel compelled to take a moment and look back on Spring 2017.  I would describe it as a bit of an emotional rollercoaster.  Let me say, that mid-life crisis thing is REAL!  One thing that is contributing to some of the emotional ups and downs is that we are house-hunting which, in my limited experience, seems to bring out both the best and worst, the most positive and negative outlook on life.  In me, at least!  Not that I’m of the mindset that a house “defines” a person, but, oh, maybe that’s a topic for another day.

Despite questioning my recent decade of experiences and choices (why did I work at X, why didn’t I stay at Y – this is a fun game, by the way!), we also had plenty of fun and happy moments over the past few months, which lifted my spirits and connected me to people and places.  We missed downhill skiing this season, especially since it ended up being a particularly late one – after a dry March, April and May brought some serious snow to the mountains and a few places closed in June(!), but there will be other years to ski.  We did, however, take a few weekend trips which we enjoyed – to Salida and Breckenridge.  The Breckenridge weekend was a quick getaway to visit family, but we also took a nice little hike up Boreas Pass.  Not that we actually got to the pass – even with the warm weather in March, the road was closed to traffic but open to hikers, snowshoers and skiers.  We didn’t need snowshoes or skis for this little jaunt, which was a bit of a bummer (who doesn’t love ALL THE GEAR?), but it was also nice to just hoof it.  I bought some new-to-me La Sportiva hiking boots and tested them out in the snow and was more than happy with them.  These are the moments when I question why I ever buy anything new.  After the hike, we hit up Outer Range, a brewery in Frisco, and that alone would have been worth the trip!

Then, for Easter weekend, we headed south to Salida, which we’ve visited a few times over the past year.  It’s quite the funky little town – not quite a “true” mountain town, it’s nestled in the foothills of several “14’ers” and offers killer views of the Collegiate peaks – and probably a few others too.  If we fished and kayaked, we’d probably love Salida even more – the Arkansas river cuts through it, and there is plenty to do on the river in town.

As I mentioned previously, we were there for the closing of Monarch, the local ski mountain, and what better to celebrate the end of the ski season and the beginning of river season than kayak races on the ski slopes?  Even as spectators, it was quite a show – kayaks towed up the mountain, then racing each other down (usually in groups of 4), hitting a pool of icy water and racing to the finish.  I don’t think that this will ever be an Olympic sport, but it was a fabulous time!  Some of the kayakers were definitely in it for the experience, but as the races began to eliminate people, we got to the final foursome – and that was a RACE!

While I’d love to return to ski before the races and spectate, I have zero desire to EVER paddle into that water!  Still, it was a unique way to celebrate the end of the ski season and ramp up for the river season.

The other trip that I took thanks to school was a week-long camping trip to the “Western Slope” – the west side of I-70.  Michael and I have driven this stretch plenty of times as we covered the miles between California and Colorado and back again, but we never stopped.  So, I consider myself pretty lucky to have taken this trip, even with a group of 6th, 7th and 8th graders in tow!  We stayed outside of Colorado National Monument to camp, but most (all) of our hikes were in the monument, which is a truly beautiful part of the state.  This area, geographically, is much more like what people associate with Utah – red rocks and interesting geological formations and those wonderful layers – than the Rockies, and it’s can be warmer than the Front Range (Boulder/Denver area).  While we stayed outside of the park, it was easy to get around and our campground – at Highline Lake State Park – was great, although I think that it gets really crowded during the summer with boaters.  We had one rainy morning, but that was it, which was fortunate, because if we had gone the following week, the weather would have been much rougher (rain and probably snow!). In addition to the hikes, which were spectacular, I definitely enjoyed getting to know the other 2 faculty members, and some of the students were awesome (not all of them, sorry, but being honest here!).

Just a few highlights from the trip:

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Why, yes, that IS a cup of coffee – powered me through our final hike, which we started bright and early – around 6:00 at the trailhead! Thank you to our wonderful guides from the Keystone Science School – you were the best!

I’m not sure what it says about my year that this was, without a doubt, the best part of it. If the year had ended with this trip, I think that I would have felt “Hell yeah, I love my job!”.  Instead, we returned to two more weeks – not particularly  challenging ones from an organizational perspective, but corralling the students after they had been away for a week was no easy task, especially when I sympathized with their constant wish for summer to just begin already!   The trip did make me appreciate that there are still SO many areas in Colorado that we do not know, have yet to explore, and that offer so much to see and do.  And if anyone visits that part of Colorado, they should definitely check it out!

While transitioning back to school was no easy feat, I’ve fully embraced summer – we’re eating corn on the cob, lots of salads, tomatoes, watermelon, and enjoying the longer days…

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