What's Up with Western Expeditions?

By Anne Mead

Life in the mountains has been fabulous so far. We had a big change from the heat of the desert to very chilly mornings and evenings in Silverton, remedied by lots of hot Cocoa and nightly camp fires. Since arriving, we have been adjusting to the altitude with lots of day hikes to places like Boulder Gulch, Ice Lakes, and a great educational hike in Cunningham Gulch led by local geology and history expert, Scott Fetch. After our hike with Fetch that gave us a much more in depth understanding of the mining history of the area, we got to go underground! The Old 100 mine tour led us into a former working mine where we got to see the tools and work that miners used to do.
We had a great time. Another treat was a wonderful and informative two days with the Mountain Studies Institute. The group learned research techniques to monitor Pika (http://www.mountainstudies.org/climate-change-work/2014/11/5/pikanet-a-citizen-science-monitoring-program-for-the-american-pika), a project that we will continue on our backpacking trip! We also learned a lot about the importance of wetlands in the area as we toured a Fen in the area and experienced the restoration that is currently taking place (http://www.mountainstudies.org/ecosystemwork/2014/11/7/fen-restoration). As a warmup to our backpacking trip that begins tomorrow, we took an overnight trip to Velocity Basin-an incredible view, former site of Shaun White’s secret winter training (which the expeditioners loved!) After we set up camp, we donned our daypacks for an impressive and very steep hike up a 12,600 foot peak that allowed for phenomenal views in every direction. There was a lot of exhaustion and altitude induced laughter that night and we had a really nice time cooking by the lake. As a final bit of luxury, we had a bit of time spent in town today where the kids bought ice cream, t shirts, and enjoyed the sites to see! Tomorrow we embark on our five day backpacking trip and spirits are high with lots of excitement.

From Melanie Eddington, Western Trip Leader