A Lesson on Snow at the EC Winter Retreat 2013

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

-Robert Frost

Snow muffles the sounds in the La Plata Canyon. Last weekend for the winter retreat, a group of us from the Environmental Center hiked to “The Naked Lady Hut” for activities and some delicious food. Though the food was delectable and the leadership workshops enlightening, it is not the stay in the cabin that struck me most about this Saturday. A simple comment Rachel made offhand in one of her “snow spiels” grabbed my attention and got me thinking.

Imagine the spring, when three days of nonstop snowing will mean snowmelt high in the mountains and a full river of runoff. Imagine the month of May when the river will feed into the fields of crops and the farmers will be happy. Imagine late summer when the lack of early snow will create less water for the rivers, making farmers not so happy. I cannot speak for all farmers but I know for certain that some people are not aware of the sources of their water beyond their faucets. If we do not have the knowledge that our own water comes from runoff from the mountains, we may not care about fighting for the conservation of the mountains.

This lack of knowledge of the connectedness of aspects of the environment leads to something else of which I have become acutely aware. I always assumed that everyone knew how plants grow from seed to sprout to fruit to table but my eyes were opened this year through the Campus Sustainability Team’s project: The Real Food Challenge. The Real Food Challenge strives to collaborate with college cafeterias to use 20% “real” food by 2020. Through a survey, our team saw that most students wanted more local, healthy food involved on campus and decided to embrace this challenge. In the case of the Real Food Challenge, real food is classified as local, environmentally sound, humane and fairly traded; or any combination of the four. Along with attempting to bring this to the FLC campus, we will also work to educate the campus about what “real” food is and where our current food comes from versus real food. Education will be a large piece of this project in addition to promoting local food. This project is long term, and will not be easy but by tackling this issue, hopefully we can reconnect the circle of understanding food and its source.

Just as farmers need the mountains and snowfall for their crops and we need the runoff for our watersheds, the understanding of the connections between our resources and us is necessary. If we can teach others about where food comes from or at least encourage them to conscious of it, it may lead to the awareness of other resources. Starting with the food our school consumes is one step towards reconnecting our species with its life source.

-Hallie Wright

cooking vegetables for burritos

EC zero waste team member Jessica Smyke cooks vegetables for burritos. All EC students that attended the retreat enjoyed cooking and eating the delicious food. Photo courtesy of Rachel Landis.group of Fort Lewis College Environmental Center students       EC staff members learn about leadership while looking out at the beautiful snowy mountains in the Naked Lady Hut in the La Plata Canyon. Photo Courtesy of Rachel Landis.









Fun in the Snow

Molas Pass     Photo by Coe Roberts

Molas Pass in winter, Photo by Coe Roberts

With Wolf Creek reporting five feet of snow in five days everyone should be thinking about getting outside and enjoying it.  Most people are flocking to the ski areas, however, if you’re not into the lines or the cost, there are many other ways to have funFor Fort Lewis students, Chapman Hill is now open, and with the freshly groomed powder, there should be a nice base for the rest of the ski season. There are snow makers and a small terrain park. A rope tow makes it easy to enjoy the hill without getting too exhausted. The hill is located along the northeastern edge of the rim. If you’re looking for a little more exercise and a view, then backcountry cross country skiing, or snowshoeing, is the perfect activity for you. Most backcountry trails are free and easily accessible to anyone. If you don’t know of any trails, and you’re a Fort Lewis student, then you could visit the Outdoor Pursuits office in the student life center. Those people with an Outdoor Pursuits membership can enjoy miles of groomed trail across from the Durango Mountain Resort, Purgatory, just by showing their O.P. membership sticker.  If you’re not a student then you can try visiting http://www.atwdurango.com/maps. All the trail maps are provided by the San Juan Public Lands Center. Skate skiing is a great exercise and if you can ice skate then you’ll have no trouble picking it up quickly. You must have a groomed track to skate ski, so I would suggest going to one of the local Nordic centers to try it out. Or if you already have skate skis then the Hillcrest golf course has free groomed trails.

The recent snowstorms are a great excuse to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. There are so many ways to have fun, skiing, snowmen, snow angels, snowball fights, and the list goes on.

-Oliver Luneau