Outdoor Science’s Gunnison Expedition


Erin Gray, Editor

Last Wednesday afternoon, a group of 20 students from Mr. Ottmer’s new Outdoor Learning Class and four teacher sponsors took off from the Coronado parking lot and made their way West to Gunnison where they camped out for five hot days and four cold nights.
Arriving on Wednesday night at Gold Creek Campground, they quickly set up their tents and ate their first camp meal together before heading off to bed. Thursday morning started early and the students met their first challenge: backpacking. Most had never done it before, and the steep uphill trail was not entirely welcoming.Everyone pushed through though, and they found themselves at their next campsite: Lamphere Lake in the Fossil Ridge Wilderness. Some students fished, some explored with Mr. Ottmer, Mr. Urban, and Mr. Muth, and some enjoyed the serenity of the lake while making friendship bracelets.
An early night turned into yet another early morning, where multiple campers got up together and watched a magnificent sunrise from 12,000 feet in elevation. A couple hours later, the camp was packed up again and the class hit the trail to begin the trek towards their first campsite.
After stopping at Western State University for lunch and a long and competitive game of Groundies, they made the trek further into the mountains. A stop was made at the Blue Mesa Reservoir to talk about water rights and arising issues with the Colorado River, and finally the group arrived at the Rainbow Lake Campground, greeted by roaming cattle and more spectacular views.
Saturday was just as eventful, with a 7 am wake up and drive to Black Canyon National Park and a hike down the impressive Curecanti Creek Trail. The students were able to dip their heads in the creek to cool off from the heat of the day, and learn more about the dam systems put in place in that area. They returned back to Rainbow Lake exhausted, but not too tired for a night hike illuminated by the full moon followed by an entertaining and thoughtful campfire with a camping fan favorite: s’mores.
Throughout the trip, students learned the importance of “Leave No Trace” and how to execute it correctly so they could keep the natural environment as pristine as possible. They also learned about the alarming decrease in Pika population, and were even able to spot a few while at Lamphere Lake. Amelia Echols, a student on the trip, said, “ Something crazy was seeing and hearing the Pikas in person.” Along with this, she said that the class “learned a lot about the correct ways to camp and backpack in order to protect the environment and stay safe from wildlife.”
Mr. Ottmer talked extensively about his gratitude that he was finally able to see his dreams come to life after years of this class in the making.
Outdoor learning introduces students to a brand new learning environment along with challenging the way students view education. This trip, the first of many, has changed Coronado forever.