It was a Thursday and it was a whiteout – one of the first major snowfalls of the season. Big, fat flakes fell heavy and thick and I thought for sure the School Programs instructors would cancel the hike planned for the day. Silly me. We layered up, packed our lunches, filled our water bottles and piled into vans. My group headed to Montezuma to hike the road leading up to Saints John. The snow was already 10 inches deep and still falling as we parked and began our 3 mile hike with close to 1,000ft of elevation gain. The students stopped every so often to slide down hills or flop down to make snow angels. At lunch we jumped up and down, ran around, and played games to keep warm as the snow piled up on our shoulders and soaked into our sandwiches.
We stopped at overlooks and old mines with the rocky peaks towering above us for lessons in geomorphology – the kids were learning about plate tectonics, rock layers, and other earth science principles. Our fearless school programs instructor, Rachel Zacher, kept the students engaged by making the lessons fun and inclusive. She had a practically magical way of dispelling whining by empowering rather than chastising the kids. She showed them that they had all the tools and skills they needed to take care of themselves and to my amazement they all rose to the challenge.
By the end of the hike I’d relearned a lot about the planet I call home, made some friends, and realized how amazing KSS really is. More than anything I came home that day with a buzz and excitement, not just about my job, but about life in general. I had that satisfying exhaustion that comes from trudging through deep snow for hours. I’d spent a day outside laughing and running and playing and focusing on how beautiful these mountains can be blanketed in fresh snow.