Mountain Classroom: Transitions and Tumbleweed

Posted by Mountain Classroom


It would only be fair to say that a lot has happened in the last week and a half. This past weekend Aunt Lori came to visit and Pete and Coco took some well deserved personal time. We spent our days in the Littleton Public Library, the Leanin’ Tree Art Museum and in Boulder enjoying some Ben & Jerry’s and random little shops.

Proctor Academy Mountain Classroom

On Monday, Lori went back to Proctor and we continued our journey to Chico Basin Ranch, just south of Colorado Springs. Unfortunately, before we began our ranching experience, we had to say goodbye to three of our members. 

Proctor Academy Mountain Classroom

It is never easy having one person leave a group, but with three rapidly gone the group has been going through an emotional period and important changes. We have been transforming in order to find a new balance and a new flow. While all of our basic systems such as cooking, cleaning, setting up tents, etc. have changed a little, the most important shift has been the emotional impact each member of the group has on one another. 

Proctor Academy Mountain Classroom

As we arrived to Chico Basin we met up with one of Coco’s favorite past grad school advisors, Lee, who soon taught us about the wonders of the cholla cactus and Tipi Buttes, ancient sea vents that were prominent in the area. We immediately discovered hundreds of clam and nautilus fossils that dated back to times when the Colorado prairie was 250 feet under water. After our initial adventures, we headed to the ranch for our first experiences of tumble weed. The massive amounts of tumbleweed, two stories high, is due to an extreme amount of water this year, by extreme we mean eight inches.

Proctor Academy Mountain Classroom

Later that evening, we had an opportunity to enjoy a home cooked, home raised brisket meal and talk about the ins and outs of the ranching life with Duke, the ranch owner. 


Proctor Academy Mountain Classroom

The next morning we jumped right in to the tumbleweed; clearing lanes ten feet tall in order to set up birding nets. We raked, we shoved, we pushed, we fought our way through the masses and had a fun time. Later that day, we traveled to head quarters where we found dogs, cats, horses, cows, sheep, metal, and leather shops.

Proctor Academy Mountain Classroom

Although we all enjoyed loving on the animals, we also learned about the hardships of ranching - the manual labor, unpredictability of the market, and rainfall. Finally, we saw the functionality of the nets we set up as we learned how to band birds and were able to release them once again. We captured many types of birds and in the process learned about the wildlife biology, specifically the migration of birds and prairie ecology systems. 

Proctor Academy Mountain Classroom

We finished our experience at the Chico Basin with a relaxing afternoon in Colorado Springs and look forward to our upcoming backpacking trip. 

Until next week, 

Leah and Will R. 

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