The Rockiest Week: Part 2

As the Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK) crew and Urban Rangers left after the camping trip, I was left up at Rocky Mountain National Park to begin a week full of learning! As mentioned in my previous post, this week I am working at Rocky Mountain National Park to do several things. For one, I’ll be shadowing a few staff members and helping out with some volunteer crews.

I am located at a regional office so my supervisor wanted to give me at least a little bit of park experience during my time this summer. Since I was already going to be up there with ELK, we decided to make it a week trip to get that park experience. I believe it to be important that I get to compare and experience the differences in working at the regional offices versus at a park level. At either level there are things to learn and differences in operations, I’m glad I get to have a little glimpse of that.

My week started out with a free day to explore the park! First on my list was to drive on Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous highway in the country! Since every time I’ve gone to Rocky Mountain National Park it’s usually been in snow season, meaning Trail Ridge Road is closed, I woke up early to drive up there!  It was kind of a gloomy day, but that didn’t bother me at all! I love to see foggy and cloudy mountains with that fresh rain scent; it’s one of my absolute favorites! Not only had I not been up Trail Ridge Road, but I hadn’t been on the west side of the park either. This day was full of exploring Trail Ridge Road and the west side of the park at Grand Lake, but also all the adventure that follows! While driving up Trail Ridge Road I was left in awe; not only was the elevation taking my breath away, but so were the views. Here’s a picture of the Forest Canyon Overlook, a decent picture I took but somehow these pictures just don’t do it justice! Even though I live in Colorado, these mountains never get old, so I’m glad to call this beautiful state home.

Day two was spent meeting some really great people! I started the day with meeting up with Sofia, who is a Mosaics In Science intern. We spoke about our backgrounds in education, where we come from. and what we’ve been up to all summer long. It has been really nice to get to know other interns, and especially the Mosaics In Science interns since they are run by EFTA as well but are a different program with almost the same mission as LHIP. When we met Sofia was working at the Sheep Lakes Information Station. That station is well known for the frequent sightings of bighorn sheep, hence the name! Sadly during my time there I didn’t get to see any, but I did get to attend an education program led by park rangers at the station about bighorn sheep! This image is of the park rangers and park volunteers at the Sheep Lake station taking a funny group photo for the park’s funny photo contest. I guess that’s a thing they like to do here in the park, as employees and volunteers get a good laugh and see who can come up with the best ideas for pictures. Oh boy, do I love park people! They are always wonderfully nice and have great outgoing spirits. Volunteers and park rangers brighten my day when ever I visit parks. Speaking of volunteers, I also got to meet up with the volunteer manager of Rocky Mountain National Park, whose name is Lindsay Lewis! We spent hours talking about the amazing volunteer program at Rocky, her journey into the National Park Service (NPS) work force and the tips she has for someone just starting their journey in NPS, like me. Moments like this are so useful! For one thing, I get to meet amazing people that make this park function on a daily basis, but also I get one-on-one connections with these people that I would never normally meet if not for this position. So I am forever grateful that this week is granting me all the opportunities possible during my time this summer as an LHIP intern.

Towards the end of the week I got to help out Nina, an intern here at Rocky Mountain, on her citizen science project. Nina is here for the summer creating a phenology project for visitors to do when they are here in the park. Phenology is the study of cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena, specifically in relation to climate and plant and animal life. This project is specific to Lily Lake, aimed towards studying the plants and wildlife of the lake area. The plan is to have brochures of the project and have every day citizens and park visitors grab one at the visitor center, so while spending time at the lake they can record their data onto an app and upload it. Since Lily Lake is ADA accessible, close by, and there is no park fee to go there, this location was picked for those reasons of easy access to many as the perfect spot to do the project. I basically was helping Nina finalize some features on her project. Since I don’t know anything about phenology or her project, I was able to give some advice on what to do after viewing and doing it with my fresh eyes. I’m glad I got to help her out by testing it out before she gets to try it out with some local YMCA kids. Here’s a link to check out the project! If you ever find yourself near Rocky Mountain National Park’s Lily Lake, be sure to participate and upload some data you find!

  Here are some videos of my wildlife encounters during my time up at Rocky Mountain National Park:

Mama black bear and her two cubs

While on a brisk hike, I looked up and found a deer staring back at me and eating.

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