Snowshoe, snow science and Scrumptious Brunch |

Snowshoe, snow science and Scrumptious Brunch

Story and photos by Carolyn Pope
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It’s tough to dispute that our valley is a place of astounding natural beauty. That’s one of the reasons we choose to live here. Oftentimes, though, it’s easy to take our habitat for granted or overlook the details – magnificent or microscopic – during our daily routines.

Last weekend, the Gore Range Natural Science School offered a snowshoe and brunch in Avon’s Mountain Star neighborhood for board members and donors. After the informative hike, guests were treated to a brunch at the splendid home of Rich and Susan Rogel.

Led by the knowledgeable Steven Wiseman, the group traipsed and tripped through the trees on awkward webbed feet. Wiseman guided us through groves of different trees, pointing out what makes each grove individual.

Lodgepole pines, for example, prefer their sunlight indirectly, compared to the aspen, which bask in the bright heat like New Yorkers on spring break in South Beach.

Sunlight is the food of life – it triggers hibernation of animals, migration of birds and growth of vegetation. It’s longer days bring out the songbirds – not the rising temperature.

The trees colonize, just like birds, insects or mobile homes.

One of the great ecological debates in our valley involves the pine beetle – that nasty little creature that kills pines, leaving patches of dead, brown kindling.

It’s not actually the feeding on the tree that kills, it’s the blue-stain fungus on the beetle, which robs the tree of moisture.

The beetle, however, is a natural part of the ecosystem. The trees were meant to die, and they know it.

The abundance of cones on these nearly dead trees signal the end of a cycle. The cones are held together by a resin, like maple syrup, and they are opened to spread their seeds by the heat of wildfire.

Those cones means the tree is ready for fire to come along and clear way for new, stronger trees.

That’s the great thing about the Gore Range Natural Science School – you take food for thought home with you; lots of cool little factoids about the world around that, if you’re moving too quickly, you’ll never notice.

And, if you did notice, you probably wouldn’t know what you’re looking at, except under the guidance of the school’s teachers. The school offers a plethora of courses, for youngsters to oldsters, throughout all the seasons.

After the snowshoe, the gang gathered at the Rogel’s home and chowed down on the feast prepared by Mountain Catering. Many of the board of directors were present, including Alan Danson, Susan Pollack, Joe and Brenda McHugh, and Rand Garbacz. Others who hoofed through the woods included David and Kathy Ferguson, Nancy Brodsky, and Ann Mintz.

For more information on the courses offered by the Gore Range Natural Science School or to make a donation, call 970-827-9725 or vist

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