I will never forget to long drives with John Denver, Vampire Weekend and Kora's playlists on the speakers, the exhausting hikes that endured with altitude fatigue, the beautiful nature, and certainly the amazing volunteers and staff that made it so memorable (shoutout to Hrittik’s doll - you’re the best one <3).
Oh the volunteering part? It was really good as well. We got our hands on sustainable farming to combat food insecurity in the Gunnison basin, and community gardening for the school district in Salida, both CSA-related programs (Community-Supported Agriculture), which was fun, productive, and eye-opening to learn about the technology, methods, and procedures they have doing these work. We also did gruesome trailwork on gargoyles, which had us tremendously appreciate the work put in these simple-looking routes. We did some land maintenance through cleaning up wood twigs and pigsties (amazing!). All of these put us into perspective and blah blah blah… But really though, it was an experience to connect and talk to people who are helping to enrich and protect the landscape and communities of Colorado.
There were curriculums and purely educational excursions as well, where we talked to scientists, conservationists, activists about different issues around conservation like domestic sheeps vs. bighorn sheeps vs. wolves, or Ne$tlé’s increasing influence on water and politics in Colorado, or smaller activities like testing water quality or spraying native seeds in the forest. I also enjoyed learning about climate change in tribal parks without mentioning the word.
Still what popped out most was the beautiful scenery in Colorado. As we toured around the Western Slope, there was almost a pervading connection to nature. I loved the morning breeze of the mountains, the vast eternity of tree lines, and even though I’m not supposed to, the aromatic smell of pine needles. I loved seeing the water lines in rivers and reservoirs, and longed to break AMIGOS rules of only being able to wade in water.
Colorado was a distant, peaceful getaway in the summer, but it felt home for the cool people, pretty nature, vibrant rhythm, and constant reflections during the trip.