The quarter has passed by in a flash and already it’s the end of the school year. Throughout the class we have experienced and learned so many things it would be impossible to recount them all here. For me the most valuable lessons were acquired during the weekend overnight trips and our four days in may action project. These are the times we got out of the classroom and had a hands-on experience of the information we were learning.
Over the course of the quarter the class participated in two weekend overnight camping trips. Long before we were able to hit the trail, we began preparations for the trips during school hours. We learned about high and low tech alternatives to the mountaineering gear available today. We set up shelters using a tarp and a poncho, and watched how to make a backpack using only a blanket and some cord. We discussed leave no trace tactics and how to make minimal impact on the environment while in the backcountry. Also, we planned out what food we were going to bring and looked over all the equipment necessary for the trip.
All the preparations finally paid off when we set out into the wilderness to put our skills into practice. We slaved relentlessly over the friction fires, and although nobody successfully created a flame everyone now has a greater understanding of the effort it takes, and knows what to do when they finally get a coal. I have learned a lot about friction fires during the overnights and think I am on the verge of success. Natural shelters were another skill we mastered. The class built a single person debris shelter on the first trip to see how it was done. One the second overnight we made the same kind of shelter but it had to be big enough for seven people. We were unable to finish this before dark but I did get the experience of spending the night in it.
I learned many other various skills as well. Like how to make a burn spoon and cordage out of yucca, and what foods I do not want to bring camping. I learned what to do if I ever find myself in a survival situation. I know what my priorities are and how to get drinkable water without purification. I can find the four directions without a map and compass and I know how to put together my own survival kit. Aside from all the outdoor survival skills I also learned a few life skills. Working with large groups of people to build a shelter or even set up camp can take a lot more effort than you think. Everyone has to take on responsibility to get the job done. In addition, I have learned how to be more aware of the environment around me. From now on I will take off my blinders and use my wide-angle vision to notice things I would have normally passed by.
I can use all of this knowledge in my everyday life and on camping trips of my own. If I ever find myself in a survival situation I have the knowledge and skills to get myself out of it. I can use what I have learned to make a minimal impact when I go camping, and some of it I can do for fun and to teach others. The life skills I acquired can be put to use in my everyday life, when working with others or off by myself.
The second part of this class that has taught me a great deal this quarter was the action project. To begin this project there was a lot of planning and discussion involved. Before we could start anything we had to brain storm a list of local environmental issues and vote on one. Once we knew myrtle spurge was the one we got to work finding information, organizations, and contacting people. More time was spent researching, planning and writing then actually putting our project into action. Finally 4 days in may came and we spent the entire week pulling spurge and canvassing the New Vista neighborhood. I was surprised at how big a deal spurge really was and how many people a seemingly small thing like this can affect. Learning about the long-term effects of invasive plants was frightening. All the issues on our original list could potentially have a huge impact like that if they are not dealt with properly. I have realized how important it is to address these problems now.
I was also amazed at how much we actually managed to accomplish. When we calculated the pounds of spurge and the money we saved the city, they were huge numbers. I know we have only made a dent in the enormous issue of invasive plants, be we also accomplished more than I thought possible with our limited amount of time. With out a doubt high school students can make a huge difference if they put their minds to it. In the future I can use what everything I have learned from this project. I learned how to make contacts and organize people for a project like this. I experienced writing public service announcements and contacting different media organizations. I can apply this to other parts of my life as well as action projects. Also I now have an extensive knowledge of myrtle spurge so I can continue to contribute to the solution by educating others. If a CAP class in the future chooses to address this issue again we have an excellent foundation laid for them. We have all the initial research on the topic done and we have many good connections. The class has formed a great relationship with the City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks, which can be used for countless other topics as well.
Throughout the entire class we have covered a ton of ground. On a whole we have contributed a small part of the solution to a huge environmental issue, and learned numerous out door survival and wilderness skills. This class is unlike any other you can find at another high school. Things like this are not normally taught to teens and not offered in many programs. I feel grateful to have had this opportunity to experience what I have. I have learned even more in addition to what I have addressed already, and all of it I can incorporate into my life. Unlike a history or science class where half the information learned ends up getting forgotten, the knowledge I obtained from this class I will be able to use again.
I feel very passionate about the issue of invasive plants. I think I know the most about this issue than the others I have thought of. Our action project got me revved up about it and now everywhere I go I can’t help noticing myrtle spurge. I would love to know what other invasive plants there are and what is being done to stop them. This is the issue I want to take on over the next three months. I can research other noxious weeds in the area and find out the people who are already working with the problem. I have many good contacts already from our action project and I’m sure the City of Boulder Open Space would love my help on the topic. I can volunteer for the city or work on my own. I could even get a group of people together to help tackle the problem by weeding or collaborating with the park service. In the very least I will be able to educate as many people as possible about these invading plants. Hopefully we can make a difference!
Overall, I loved the class and I have learned a great deal about not only the outdoors but also other skills in life, and I will use all of it again. We had left a great foundation for future CAP classes and new action projects. I can’t wait to get back out into the wilderness!
This past weekend we set off on our second overnight camping trip. After an entire week of nothing but each other we had one day to ourselves to recuperate before we all got back together again bright and early Saturday morning. We hiked down the trail only a short, lame mile before we found the perfect campsite. I would have preferred to continue down the trail a ways after we took off our packs, but it was the consensus of the group to set up camp. Everyone ate some quick snacks and we set up camp after doing a sit spot. For a while people tried out their bow drills again and other methods of making fire, and Ford also introduced the clothes pin game.
Around mid afternoon our packs were savagely torn and ripped apart by a bear and Dorian had wisely slipped and broken his ankle. The group had to STOP and survey the situation. We split into teams, some people tended to the fire problem while others got started on a shelter. Someone also stayed to tend to Dorian’s leg. We successfully created fire using a magnifying glass and pulled together a kick ass shelter big enough to fit all seven of us. As the tasks were completed (or at least enough for the time being) our things miraculously repaired themselves and our food was returned to as it had been. People got out stoves and we all sat around the campfire to eat dinner and roast marshmallows. After dinner we hung our food and I told everyone about the winter constellations in the stars. We ended the night with songs on the guitar before everyone retired to their tents, shelters, and tarps.
The next morning everyone awoke to a clear, sunny day and we debriefed the survival situation of the previous day over breakfast. We learned how to make burn spoons and cordage out of yucca. Then, half the group, including myself, hiked to the end of the trail before we began to break up camp. It was very sad to see our beautiful shelter get destroyed, but everyone did an awesome job of scattering the remains. After a final sit spot we hiked back up the trail and piled into cars/trucks for the long ride down the mountain.
I can take a lot out of this trip. If the survival situation would have been more realistic or better enacted I think I would have gotten more experience with it, but now I know what I would do differently in a real situation. I still didn’t succeed in creating a friction fire (I will definitely practice more) but I got more practice making debris shelters and this time I even got to sleep in it. I learned just how hard it is to be aware of every part of your body all the time, and how to be stealthy enough to catch other people off guard. I also learned how to make a burn spoon and cordage out of yucca. And, some new riddles to frustrate people with among much, much more.
I can use every skill I learned on this trip in my life out side of class. I hope to practice all of them again, not to mention they will come in very handy if I ever find myself in a real survival situation. On my next camping expedition I will try to finish my burn spoon. The weekend overnights have also taught me how to be more aware of my environment wherever I am, and notice different noises and things around me. Oh yeah, and one last thing, is how to use a compass to orient a map to be exactly what we are looking at in the real world. Over all I had a blast! Thanks Ford!
Alys Hansen prefers to apply her graphic design wizardry to her journal entries instead of turning in a written journal, so here is her interpretation of the Community Adventure Program class and our first weekend overnight camping trip. Excellent work Alys!
I’m back in CAP for another quarter and so happy to be back. The first two have already flown by. The first few days of the quarter were basically an overview of what the class is about. We decorated our journals and got to know our classmates a little better. The second day of CAP we went on our first hike up to Chataqua. We played a game where we had to practice a stalking technique in order to sneak up on the person who was trying to find us.
The second full week of class we went over different aspects of what it means to be involved in the community, and an overview of what the action project will encompass. We met with the two other people who are going to join us for 4 days in may and brain stormed possible topics we could do. Thursday we refined and enlarged our list and thought up different projects we could do for the environmental issues in Boulder. Friday, we took our second hike with Valerie from the city of Boulder parks service who talked to us about different invasive species, including the New Zealand mud snail. She also told us about the impact of walking off trail and the so-called “social trails” that are caused because of it. Also what the parks service is doing to try and keep these things in line.
So far, I have gotten to know the other students in the class better and I learned how to walk in the woods with out making a sound, or at least very little. I enjoyed that game a lot and I hope we can play it again because I want a chance at being it. Another thing I learned is what it takes to make a change in the world. Things like creativity, connections, and future pull are all essential to making a difference. During our hike on Friday I learned a lot about the invasive plants in the area. I had no idea this was going on. I knew a little about nap weed previously but I didn’t now these foreign plants posed such a threat to our environment. I also learned why it is so important to STAY ON TRAIL. I was blown away by the number of social trails on the map and also the big problem with dogs in the park. And last of all I can’t forget the New Zealand mud snail that is such a threat to our environment, and there seems to be no plausible solution in sight.
I can use the information I have gained in class to contribute to and make a difference with our action project later on in the quarter, and to be more aware of my environment. You won’t see my dogs off leash in open space any more. I can also inform other people about these invasive species that are causing so many problems. I’m excited about the new class and the new quarter and can’t wait to learn more and go on the camping trips!
Alys prefers a more creative and artistic way to express what she learned each week from CAP. This is her journal entry that highlights her experience with the Community Adventure Program.
Presented by: Lynne Sullivan at the Foothills Nature Center
The clinic that I attended, Dirty Little Valentines, brought up many interesting and odd points. The strangest point being that there is a peculiar parallel between human and animal courtship. Lynne Sullivan, the creator of Dirty Little Valentines, addressed several different questions throughout her presentation that brought about some clarity in the subject of the animal kingdom
Well, here we are again. It is the second time for this class. When I signed up for it, my advisor raised one eyebrow and looked at me.
Boulder, Colorado has very interesting and unique geology compared to many other places in Colorado, or even the country. As you can clearly see the Flatirons are very unique for a rock, at least for the size they are. Even though the geology in Boulder looks all very different, it is mainly one single type of formation of rock you see at such places like Sanitas or simply on the Flatirons, this is known as the Fountain Formation.
In the Boulder area the oldest rock you can find is around 1.7 billion years old, which means it is from the Precambrian age(rock age is measured with carbon dating, which measures the radioactive elements contained in the rock). Rocks from the Precambrian age are either granite or metamorphic. In Boulder’s case for example you will only find metamorphic rocks, which basically means the sediments, which can be things like sand or mud, were pulled into a subduction zone in the ocean, then through heat and chemical reactions metamorphic rocks were formed.
Then about 600 million years ago, which is known as the Paleozoic Era. Colorado’s Precambrian age rocks were flooded, as the rest of Colorado, by the ocean. For 300 million years the lands of Colorado were covered with water, this left many rock sediments in the area for future rocks to be made. Then at 300 million years ago, known as the Pennsylvanian age two very large mountain ranges were pushed up by earthen forces, these are known as the Ancestral Rockies. Due to the weathering of the ocean waters the two new mountain ranges were composed of mostly sandstone and shale. Sandstone is a red rock, with a sandy surface, this is created from sediments of sand. Shale is a very fragile rock that is very flat and this is created from mud sediments. All this, and the addition of lots of iron, which makes it have a red appearance, creates the Fountain Formation.
Around 260 million years ago water from the east came in, this water brought lots and lots of sand with it, in turn this sand created the Lyons formation. Today we see Lyons Sandstone used in many parts of the Colorado University campus. Due to the massive amounts of sand now in the Colorado region, the Ancestral Rockies were burred by sand. Over the next 150 million years Colorado was constantly getting more and more deposits from ocean streams coming in and coming out. This lead to the deposit of many types of sand and gravel. This sand and gravel ended up creating the Dakota Hogback, a fine place to see the Dakota Hogback is on one of the trails at Mountain Sanitas, very beautiful.
Around 65 million years ago, our mountains began to finalize themselves. The previously buried mountains were pushed up through the earth. Many streams became very fast moving rivers, this ended up pushing many smaller pieces of debris towards the plains of Colorado. The old mountains that had just been uplifted, were injected with hot molten magma that spewed from the earths core. This magma caused the mountains to get a very unique look to them. Once the hot molten magma reached the top of the mountain it erupted out the top in the form of a volcano. There are only a few select places you can still see any trace of volcanic ash or rock here in Colorado.
This is how Colorado became what it is. Through the every changing times of the past, Colorado had many different influences by the ocean mainly. All of these influences combined to create the wonderful geology of Boulder, Colorado.
Has anyone here ever had a reality check?
Heck, I have them all the time
Mine came to me -far off in the wilderness
By an old sage tree
As I stood there this random rhyme came to me
My heart said this
Everything good seems natural
And natural is the only thing free…factual?
I thought this was intriguing because indeed in my mind nature is the one truest flavor
And damn we don’t imbrace her like we should and care for her like loving people would but she’s Truely genuine
And now that I think about it her uniqueness beauty and life constitute the one real, living and true Definition of sublime
But it’s fading fast my friends it’s fading fast
I can’t quite grasp how long this painting will last- before its annihilated by the human mask
And when that day comes these stupid humans will meet my wrath
Do the math
It’s not gonna be much longer
The chaos of this place will turn your reality somber
Not much longer
Little by little more and more
These corporate hores will exploite the beauty for their selfish score
And then beautiful the earth will be no more
This is not gibberish or folk lore people this is the real war
Decide which side your on- then look closely and you’ll see your choice of sides could be very wrong
But heck am I just blabbering?
Or when are you gonna have a reality check