Hike of the Week: Learn about local flora and fauna by hiking with Walking Mountains Science Center | VailDaily.com

Hike of the Week: Learn about local flora and fauna by hiking with Walking Mountains Science Center

By Nathan Boyer-Rechlin
Special to the Daily
A tigerswallowtail butterfly perches on a larkspur.
Bret Hartman | Special to the Daily

The other day, out on a trail just outside of Minturn, I was walking through a quiet aspen grove, marveling at how green the mountains seemed, when I saw it: my first larkspur of 2020.

I’m sure these flowers, some of the earliest wildflowers to bloom each year, have been out for a week or two, but this was the first one I’d noticed. Around another corner was a whole field of them. On another quick hike a few days later, I noticed moose tracks making their way through a wetland full of a gorgeous, yet-to-be identified subalpine wetland flower.

The hills truly are alive this year, and it’s always a joy to get back out on the trail and work to relearn all the flora and fauna that I’ve gotten a little rusty on throughout the winter.

At Walking Mountains, we take pride in enhancing the backcountry experience of all who hike with us, and we would love to help you put on your naturalist hats, and have you join us on the trail. We’re excited to finally be kicking off our backcountry programs, which have been adapted for COVID-19 regulations.

From full-day hikes with a naturalist to citizen science opportunities and our new “Science Behind, on the trail” series we’re excited to offer a variety of new programming out on our backcountry trails and national forests. Keep an eye out on our website in the coming weeks, and here in this column, for information on some of these great new community programs.

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Kicking off in just a week is our yearly summer hiking club. If you’re interested in expanding your knowledge of our mountains’ flora and fauna, enhancing your experience while hiking out on the trail and joining a community of hikers and naturalists on the trail, we would love to have you.

This year, the club is hiking each Tuesday and Wednesday from June 16 through October 15. Each week, we hike to a mountain lake, and to a local summit, pass or alpine destination. We put on our naturalist hats while we’re at it. The club is a paid membership, but if you’re just interested in joining for one hike we have single registration available as well.

This truly is a wonderful family on and off the trail, and we love sharing new places and opening up the science of the natural world to all who hike with us.

If you’re interested in the club experience and our 2020 schedule, reach out to hike@walkingmountains.org or visit our website http://www.walkingmountains.org/hiking.

Nathan Boyer-Rechlin is the community outreach coordinator, hiking guide, and trails guru at Walking Mountains Science Center. You can reach him at 970-827-9725 ext. 144, or nathanbr@walkingmountains.org.

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