Rocky Mountain Field Seminars
Learn ♦ Explore ♦ Adventure
in Rocky Mountain National Park
June 28, 2013 Hidden Valley Lichen Garden
July 12, 2013 Hidden Valley Mountain Meadow
August 16, 2013 Hidden Valley Pine Forest
Course Level: II
Course #s: S3085, S3086, S3087
Instructor: Kevin J. Cook
LOCATION: Hidden Valley Picnic Area: approximately 9 miles inside Rocky Mountain National Park off Trail Ridge Road
Time: 8:00 Am - 12:30 PM
Course Description: A prudent sense of safety keeps us looking at the ground as we walk, and trails trick us into looking straight ahead to see what’s coming. The consequence of looking down and looking ahead is that we miss what’s around. Places become something we pass through so offhandedly that we — person and place — become ephemeral to each other. Marvelous old trees, spectacular wildflower assemblages, hard-to-find animals, and other wildlife surprises can remain hidden in secret places along the trails that allow us to pass through. In the “Secret Places” seminars, we will explore just off familiar beaten paths with a mind for discovering the wild life richness that bestows character on place.
Secret Places 1: Hidden Valley Lichen Garden
New understanding of life’s distinctiveness informs us that lichens growing on a tree are more closely related to a squirrel living in that tree than to the tree itself. So if plants grow in a garden and animals live in zoos, what kind of place do lichens really inhabit?
Secret Places 2: Hidden Valley Mountain Meadow
Meadows are like private arenas walled off by rock outcrops and stands of trees; and in those arenas wildlife goes about its affairs, each species according to its kind. Because every meadow has its own mix of species, every meadow has its own character.
Secret Places 3: Hidden Valley Pine Forest
Every treeland takes its character from the kinds of trees that grow in it. The three different pines in Rocky Mountain National Park make very distinctive treelands when separate and when mingled.
Course Level: II
Short-distance walks throughout the day on primarily level terrain
Brief Instructor Biography (additional information available at www.rmna.org): Since 1974, Kevin has explored Colorado to experience its wildlife firsthand. Realizing that no species lives alone, he studies all plant and animal groups with a special enthusiasm devoted to the myriad connections among all life. To understand these connections, he studies fungi and protists as well, taking his passion from the textbooks and journals into the field to find the creatures for real. He writes natural history columns for newspapers and magazines, edits
technical articles for scientific publications, leads wildlife observation tours, and teaches various bird and wildflower classes. He contributed one of the essays to Houghton Mifflin’s 2007 book, Good Birders Don’t Wear White: 50 Tips from America’s Top Birders.
Expectations: Professional conduct will be expected from participants at all times. Individual ideas will be respected. Except during course breaks, cellular phones, pagers, and personal entertainment devices are strictly prohibited in the classroom and during field sessions.
Tentative Course Schedule:
8:00 AM Welcome and introduction to RMNA at trailhead
Meet participants; describe seminar, explain procedures and expected outcomes.
8:30 AM View “secret place” from outside and assess overall character: vegetation, animals, sounds, smells.
Enter “secret place” and study place-specific context of wild life encountered.
12:30 PM Seminar concludes.
SCHEDULE NOTE: Weather conditions will dictate the actual timing of seminar activities. If safety indicates going afield in the morning, the schedule will be modified accordingly. Light, misty rains are just a part of being a naturalist in the field; however, thunder and lightning will keep us indoors, where specimen material will be available. Lunching will flex with progression of the schedule and what works best for the circumstances.
Binocular for watching wild life without disturbance (Bring it if you have one, but do not buy a binocular just for this seminar.)
Sunglasses: These become more and more desirable the longer you spend at high elevation with no relief from full sunlight.
A windbreaker with a hood will keep you warmer than an extra sweater layer with an exposed neck.
Lightweight gloves, mostly to reduce chilling by the wind
A walking stick to negotiate uneven terrain (Bring it if you have one, but do not buy a walking stick just for this seminar.)
Remember to Bring the 10 Essentials:
Rocky Mountain National Park recommends that hikers always carry the 10 essentials in their daypacks.
Raingear Map and compass Flashlight or headlamp
Sunglasses and sunscreen Candles Matches or other fire starter
Pocketknife First-aid kit Extra layers of clothing
Sack lunch, snacks, water
Note: Rocky Mountain Field Seminars recommends that participants for all courses dress in layers and wear comfortable, sturdy hiking boots/shoes. Participants should be prepared for sudden changes in temperature and weather conditions.