It was a big week and a big weekend for educational and recreational activities on Grand Mesa.
From midweek through the weekend, individuals, groups, schools, government, outdoor recreationalists and a local chamber of commerce chose mesa top venues for their various activities.
On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, local middle school students shed their books and shunned the classroom for a learning field trip to the top of the mesa hosted by their teachers, U.S. Forest Service and the Grand Mesa Nordic Council (GMNC), all made possible with the help of corporate sponsor Gunnison Energy Corporation.
Then, when the weekend arrived, the mesa destination was busy with snowmobilers arriving in big numbers and cruising for fun in ideal conditions.
Cross-country ski enthusiasts found their delight in the GMNC Barnelopet event staged at County Line and Skyway.
And the Cedaredge Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a first-ever contest inviting fishermen to test their skills in a fun event held on Island Lake.
According to Anne Janik with the GMUG, the student events held midweek included about 70 Hotchkiss fifth and sixth graders, and 170 Delta Middle School students.
The Forest Service was highlighting its Junior Snow Ranger Program. "The Junior Snow Ranger program was developed by the Forest Service to get kids outside in winter, explore the forest, and have fun," Janik said.
"Most kids usually just snow shoe. But because of the Grand Mesa Nordic Council loaning out the skis, these locals students got a chance to try cross-country skiing. We are also trying to prepare the kids for being outside in winter, like how to dress (onion layers) and what to have in their day packs.
"We do a bit of snow science — fun stuff like snow crystals, snow layers and avalanche awareness, and how to keep their simulated mammals warm using various types of insulation and sheltered natural spaces outside," Janik explained.
The students were also introduced to ecology and the importance of the mesa snowpack to everyone. Janik added, "Students also learned about snow pack and water equivalent and how snow accumulation affects us in the valley. I think everyone had a good time, got to try some new things, got a little cold, but that made the hot chocolate at the end of the day taste that much better."
The GMNC groomed about a half-mile trail across from the visitor center for the kids to ski to a snow pit and participate in a winter scavenger hunt. The other activities were in and around the visitor center.
The GMNC provided the skis, Gunnison Energy paid for the bus costs for the two schools, six buses total. The Delta County Tourism Board and Western Colorado Interpretive Association provided the hot chocolate and snacks.blog comments powered by Disqus