With wind chills predicted at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, the brave students from this quarter’s Community Adventure Program (CAP) at New Vista High School headed to the mountains near Allenspark, CO to take part in their first overnight of the class! Several students had never camped before and many had never been winter camping. With a week of preparation under their belts they set off, with many layers, to experience the Colorado outdoors in early November.
As the group drove into the mountains they took stock of how much snow had accumulated in hopes of building a quinzhee shelter. The construction is quite simple, but requires some labor. It is built by piling snow then hollowing out the pile after it has settled. The dome shape and strength of the settled snow combine to make a structurally stable shelter that can be quite warm for 2 or 3 people. After setting up camp the group got to work piling snow for their own quinzhee. A hike up the hill to take in the view of Long’s and Meeker’s Peaks gave enough time to let the pile settle and after just over an hour of trading off digging out the shelter they had created a sturdy quinzhee. For the ultimate test, one adventurous student even slept in it overnight. The group took it down the next day and everyone was surprised at the strength of the structure as 8 students stood atop the quinzhee and could not break it down without shovels and a lot of energy! Check out the video below.
A few other highlights of the trip included an amazing moment watching clouds move quickly over the waxing moon, changing the light in a beautiful nighttime display. The group also had a great time playing a camo game and honing their stalking skills, as well as learning to use senses other than sight in the evening drum-stalk. CAP students had a wonderful time and learned a great deal that they can put to use on their next winter outing in December!
A big thanks to the Cheeley Family for the use of their land and the drivers who helped us get to our site.