Casa de la Esperanza had a great day hiking with Cottonwood Institute last weekend as part of their Summer Nature Awareness Series. After the ride down from Longmont, participants packed up lunch, played a few name games and were ready to start learning. Juanita from Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) joined them at the South Mesa Trailhead and proceeded to lead a bi-lingual nature and hiking lesson for the first part of the day. The group learned about OSMP land use, native plants, animals and some day-hiking basics.
Within the first half-mile of the hike the group heard a rattle snake (la serpiente de cascabel) by the trail. Everyone was able to spot it in the grass, from a safe distance and alerted other hikers to the danger and great wildlife site. For many it was the first rattlesnake they had seen or heard. It made for an exciting start to the hike! On the way up the group also spotted many plants from beautiful prickly pears in bloom to yucca and native grasses. Insects and spiders caught the attention of several participants while birds were what others were looking out for. The sweet smell of ponderosa pines on a hot summer day delighted many, but not more than the shade they provided. After lunch along the trail the group headed up just a little further toward Shadow Canyon before deciding the heat required a stop by the stream on the way back. Down the trail they went taking in the last views of Eldorado Canyon, Devils Thumb and the sweeping plains to the East.
After cooling their feet in the icy water of South Boulder Creek the group played a final game of camouflage before riding back up to Boulder. Back at Casa de la Esperanza everyone was tired from a long day of hiking and filled with stories and excitement. Stay tuned for news from the family overnight camping trip in July that wraps up the Summer Nature Awareness Series with Casa de la Esperanza.
View and download pictures of Casa de la Esperanza’s many adventures with Cottonwood Institute at the Shutterfly Picture Share Site.
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Written by Madeline Bachner, Cottonwood Institute Instructor and Program Director