Mountain Classroom entered the "final phase" of the term in New York before making their way to Vermont. During final phase students take full responsibility for their community culture and all logistics. Exams were held at a cabin over two miles from the trailhead at the Merck Forest and Farm Center. With academics over, the students headed off on a celebratory backpacking loop on the Long Trail.
The conclusion of wilderness solos meant that it was time to embark on our final academic unit in food systems: small-scale sustainable agriculture. There is no better place than Polyface Farm to start the discussions that this unit warrants. From Virginia we drove to Allentown, PA to challenge ourselves physically by running a 10K. And then it was on to Lake Taghkanic State Park in Upstate NY where we camped while visiting farms in the beautiful Hudson Valley.
Proctor's Mountain Classroom program set our sights on Salina, KS as we departed South Dakota. We visited The Land Institute to learn about their plant breeding programs as a part of our food systems curriculum. From Salina, we drove due east to Green Sulphur Springs, WV where we hiked into the hills for our wilderness solos.
Proctor's Mountain Classroom program turned our focus to Colorado's grasslands as we drove to Chico Basin Ranch to study rotational grazing and ranch management. Our experience was facilitated by Lee Derr, a local bird banding expert and grassland ecologist. The next stop was St Francis, SD, on the Rosebud Reservation. There we spent time with the White Hat family, whose longstanding relationship with Proctor has been a fixture of Mountain Classroom for years.
Proctor math teachers, Kristen Martin and Chris Farrell, joined Mountain Classroom in Salida, CO for a weekend of hiking, soaking in hot springs, seeing downtown, and mountain biking. From Salida we drove southeast to the beautiful Beulah Valley where we were hosted by Linda and David Overlin. The Overlins have a wealth of knowledge on ranching and the surrounding grasslands and are skilled craftspeople. They welcomed us to camp in their backyard while guiding us through projects in their wood and metal shop.
Entering Colorado provided Mountain Classroom with the opportunity to head to over 10,000 feet in pursuit of snow. We made home at Leadville's High Mountain Institute where we rented skis and down pants, among other gear, for going adventuring in the Mosquito Range. Our mission was to enjoy the spring skiing and learn about how adaptable the human body is at elevation and in snow camping conditions. It was a blast!
Proctor's Mountain Classroom community transitioned to a hunter/gatherer mindset as we drove away from California. On our way to Boulder, UT we paddled through the Black Canyon seeking out hot springs around every corner. Once in Boulder we began fasting in preparation for learning how to butcher a sheep under the direction of Laurel Holding and Carrie Ryan. Both have acquired their skills over many years as instructors for various organizations, including the Boulder Outdoor Survival School.
Mountain Classroom is spending our spring studying food. We started the term by getting our hands dirty on the Midland School’s farm in Los Olivos, CA. Ranch Manager, Nick Tranmer, was our gracious host, as we camped out in a beautiful field nearby campus, before heading into the San Rafael Wilderness for a first aid themed backpacking trip. After backpacking we returned our thoughts to food systems by visiting Duncan Family Farms, a large-scale organic farm growing salad greens in New Cuyama. Now we are en route to the Colorado River for a canoeing trip in the Black Canyon below the Hoover Dam.