A dusting of snow on Thanksgiving eve!

After a very mild several weeks, the park is being graced by some much cooler temperatures and a lovely dusting of snow as Thanksgiving approaches. For this we are all very thankful! And we are all hoping that this is the beginning of lots more snow to come!


A Couple of November Mammals!

Abert's squirrels (sometimes called tassel-eared squirrels) and mule deer are two commonly seen mammals in Pueblo Mountain Park these days. Most of the Abert's squirrels are sporting a rich winter black, and we also have a few of the pretty gray (with a white belly) Abert's as well. The mule deer blend in so well with the brown autumn vegetation, and can easily be missed.


First Frost of the Season!

Last night brought the season's first frost with temps in the upper 20s. The day quickly warmed into a lovely indian summer day. An afternoon hike along the park's Mace Trail revelaed plenty of autumn color, whether you were looking on a micro or a macro scale, as illustrated by the photos. The berries are from a threeleaf sumac bush (sometimes called skunkbrush).


August wildflowers!

Along with floods and other challenges to the town of Beulah, the generous summer moisture has brought forth a wild abandon of wildflowers that typically dominate the latter part of summer. I walked but a few steps from my MPEC office a few moments ago to take these photos of stiff goldenrod (Solidago speciosa var. pallida) and smooth aster (Aster laevis var. geyeri). These and many other species, most of the Sunflower Family, are adding much color to the landscapes of Pueblo Mountain Park. Some of the spring flowers have produced ripe fruits (like the wax currant - Ribes cereum - below, also taken just outside the MPEC's door) that add to the harvest of color as we move towards the latter part of summer.


Summer in full swing at the MPEC!

Summer is here, and I am liking it! The wet spring has the land sporting tall grasses and lots of wildflowers. Rumbles of thunder and a pretty good chance of rain seem to define the afternoons. The MPEC is humming with activity: camps, hikes, and lots of other programs. Check out our website at www.hikeandlearn.org for information on upcoming programs. Then come on out to Pueblo Mountain Park and enjoy this beautiful summer with us!


Summer Solstice in Beulah beats the heat!

Summer was welcomed by around 50 of us, ages 1 - ?, drumming in the new season outside the historic Horseshoe Lodge. A great time was had by all on a lovely evening in a lovely setting!


Community Ice Cream Social!

Come Join MPEC for a community-wide ice cream social. We're renovating the Horseshoe Lodge and breathing new life into this historic gem at Pueblo Mountain Park. Enjoy ice cream, a slide presentation, tour the Lodge and view our plans for renovation.

It'll be yummy.

Saturday, June 16, 1pm to 4pm at the Lodge in Pueblo Mountain Park

Mountainside Gourmet Dinner Fundraiser

Mountainside Gourmet Dinner: a fundraiser to benefit Mountain Park Environmental Center

Get away to the mountains and enjoy a private residence overlooking the beautiful valley while experiencing a delicious four-course dinner. Hosted by Karin Kyte Romero, featuring renowned chefs Mary Oreskovich and Richard Warner of Hope Scotch Bakery and Steel City Diner!

Saturday July 28 6:00 pm Reception; 7:00 pm Dinner

Tickets: $150 each*

* A portion of each ticjet is tax deductible and will go towards renovating the historic Horseshoe lodge as MPEC's new headquarters and retreat center.

Reserve your ticket by calling 719-485-4444.

Beulah, Colorado Outdoor Summer Fun

The hiking at Pueblo Mountain Park is divine with wildflowers blooming along the trails.

Camps are in full swing now and we still have some openings, so if you have a child that you love that wants to come to camp, call us at 485-4444.

Join us for great summer programs by checking out the MPEC Website for full dates and times.

Plus you are invited to tour the Historic Horseshoe Lodge on Saturday, June 16 from 1 - 4pm for the Horseshoe Lodge Open House Ice Cream Social.


You are invited to the Summer Solstice Drum Circle in Beulah at MPEC

The summer night is like a perfection of thought. ~Wallace Stevens

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time. ~John Lubbock

Thurs, June 21, 6:30pm

A great way to usher in the summer - bring your friends, children, grandparents, outdoor lawn chairs and enjoy a summer evening in the pines. You can bring a drum or use one of ours.


Spring storm brings more snow!!!

Nearly a foot of wet snow has fallen, and it is still snowing at 5pm on this Friday afternoon in Pueblo Mountain Park. I just took this photo of the picnic tables and a bird feeder out front of the MPEC. There were several juncoes and a couple of chickadees flitting around as I took this photo. Ah, snow, and then for the next few days, ah, mud! ~ Ranger Dave


MPEC welcomes spring with some noise!

The evening of March 21, the first full day of spring, brought about 25 folks to the MPEC, ready to rhythmically welcome back spring. And what a welcome it was. For nearly 2 hours, a circle of drums and other instruments rocked the old walls of the MPEC building. Dancing was hard to resist for several folks as a wonderful time was had by all. Drum circles have become a seasonal tradition at the MPEC, where each equinox and solstice is acknowledged with some rhythmic music. So, look for our June solstice drum circle and join us for a fun time as we welcome summer. No need for musical ability or experience, and no need to bring a drum, as we have several (but, if you have a favorite rhythm instrument, by all means bring it).
Happy spring, Dave


Spring arrives in Pueblo Mountain Park!

A sure sign of spring: the park's larger pond was ice free as of March 16 (pictured above on the 17th), which is over a week earlier than usual (although March 14 was the date in 1999, so this year is not the earliest). Over the last several years, it became ice-free somewhere between March 25 and March 30.
A hike along the Tower and Mace Trails yesterday afternoon (March 19) revealed blooming kinnikinnick, one mountain bladderpod with a couple of open buds, lots of spring beauties, a Fendler senecio with one bud showing some yellow (but not quite open yet), and a few pasque flowers open in a grassy area between the ballpark and the Devil's Canyon trailhead. New green leaves were on a few mountain mahogany (small bushes in sunny, rocky areas along Mace Trail), and the wax currant are several days with new green growth. A patch of creeping holly grape along the upper road is showing lots of round yellow buds, not quite open, but soon. So, spring is popping out all over on this 20th day of March, 2007.
Ranger Dave


Participate in a MPEC Guided Hike!

An MPEC Snowshoe Hike this past winter. Photo taken
by Hal Murray, retired professor, MPEC member, and all around great guy!
Guided Hikes – March & April
No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.
~ Proverb from Guinea

So far, winter 2007 has been a snowy one, and March and April are usually our snowiest. But, snow or no snow, these two months signal the transition from winter to spring. For our hikes these two months, it is still best to be prepared for chilly weather – wear good hiking shoes, layered clothing, hat, etc. Also bring along a water bottle and snacks on these moderately strenuous hikes that are educational and fun. Most hikes last from two to three hours and are appropriate for adults and children over 12. Group size limited to 15; members free, non-members $5. Note: If snow conditions are right during a scheduled hike, the hike may become a snowshoe outing. We provide snowshoes for our hikes. Call for details! Registration required: 719-485-4444.

Ø Sat, Mar 10, 1pm Daylight Savings / Late Winter Hike Surprise, daylight savings is a month earlier. It matters not to the natural world! Depending on conditions, we may see or hear some early breeding bird activity, and we may see a few early season blooming flowers, but we will definitely be out in Nature on this late winter hike.
Ø Sun, Mar 18, 10am, (Almost) Spring Equinox Hike The sun is halfway on its sky-climbing journey between its December low point on the winter solstice and its June high point on the summer solstice. Celebrate spring on this exhilarating hike along the trails of the park.
Ø Sun, Apr 8, 1pm, Early Spring Hike Enjoy an afternoon hike and notice how spring is beginning to take hold on the landscape of Pueblo Mountain Park.
Ø Sat, Apr 14, 10am, Early Wildflower Hike Usually, by this date, nearly a dozen species of wildflowers are already blooming in Pueblo Mountain Park, including kinnikinnick, mountain bladderpod, and Nelson larkspur. Join us as we search for these flowery signs of spring.

Winter's Snow Totals Through February

February 28th's storm brought 3" of snow to bring February's total to 15" and the winter's snow total so far to 116". By month, we've received:

October: 9.5"

November: 13"

December: 48"

January: 30.5"

February: 15"

An entire winter's average snowfall for Beulah is about 115", so anything we receive the rest of this winter will put winter 2007 that much above average snowfall! Let It Snow, Ranger Dave

A Flying Abert's Squirrel!!!

I was walking down the main road below the MP EC yesterday afternoon as the latest storm was blowing in. The trees were dancing in the strong wind. I looked up into the tops of a few tall ponderosas, swinging back and forth, when I noticed what I thought was a small black branch fall from the top of one of these trees. As soon as it hit the ground, a black Abert's squirrel took off running. The wind blew that squirrel out of the tree, free falling about 60 feet, and it literally hit the ground running, apparently uninjured! I just happened to be looking in the right place at the right time to see this happen. ~ Ranger Dave


We've Done It -- Thanks Everyone!

A huge thank you to all who contributed to meeting and surpassing the "MPEC at Horseshoe Lodge Challenge Grant". The goal, which began in mid-November, was to match $30,000 by Feb. 14 (Valentine's Day). Dave just tallied up what we've brought in, and the number is $156,721.06. This includes a surprise donation of $120,000 from an anonymous donor (a different person than the anonymous donor who offered the challenge). So, add it all up, and this effort produced $186,721 towards the Horseshoe Lodge project. So, THANK YOU TO ALL WHO HELPED MAKE THIS HAPPEN!!! Read more about it at http://www.chieftain.com/metro/1171651729/8
Let's keep the momentum going for the Horseshoe Lodge!


The Year's First Wildflower, Right On Schedule

It's been a snowy winter, but the last few days have been warm, and I had a feeling that all this sunshine created the right conditions for spring beauties to begin blooming. So, a quick hike up the Tower Trail, and sure enough, right where I always see the first bloom of the year, there was one Claytonia rosea, pale white and in bloom (pictured above)! The flower (less than an inch wide, only a few inches tall) was tucked against the stem of a Gambel oak, growing through last year's fallen oak leaves. Just a few feet from the bloom, a deep snowbank was melting its water into the minerally soil. Typical of this species, as soon as the days warm in late January or early February here in the park's south-facing shrublands, the spring beauty is ready to let us all know that, winter or not, snowy or not, spring is around the corner. So, if the winter cold and snow has you down, hike a quarter mile or so up the Tower Trail, look carefully on the west (right) side of the trail, and get a taste of spring! Several other spring beauty plants appear to be ready to bloom in the next week or so! ~ Ranger Dave


Winter snow and School programs

As you can see from some of the other postings, winter is in full swing here at the Pueblo Mountain Park. The feet of wonderful snow we have received this winter have not slowed down what we are here to do at MPEC, bringing children to the outdoors to teach them about nature. Foresight and good fortune have helped our programs to continue unabated as the snow falls.

We have scheduled more program days this year than ever before! The demand for our programs is a testament to the quality educational experience that children receive when they visit the Mountain Park during the Nature: the Natural High and Earth Studies programs. My hat's off to Dave for creating great programs that show amazing results.

While we are experiencing the kind of winter that makes living in Colorado great, we have been able to share this winter wonderland experience with students from Pueblo District 60 schools. Almost all of our snow has fallen on the weekends, allowing for safe driving conditions during the week. Also, we started programs two weeks early this school year, scheduling a very busy fall and early winter to accommodate the extra program days. This foresight has allowed us some flex time during the coldest and most blustery (did I make up that word?!) time of the year. We have been able to reschedule where needed to keep the kids coming up to the Park this winter.

Our programs have remained on schedule thanks to our supply of snowshoes. All of our programs have become snowshoe programs, and the kids love it. Linda and I have only made minor adjustments to the Earth Studies program to account for the winter and we have been test driving a new snow oriented Nature: the Natural High curriculum that the kids seem to really enjoy.

I cannot tell you how many times in the last month I have heard "this is the best field trip ever!" I am so proud to be a part of this great organization. It is so cool to see the joy on the students faces when they see the snow piled up to the top of the fence here at the MPEC. They hardly know they are learning!

Let it snow!


Love Photographs: A Fund-Raiser for the MPEC at Horseshoe Lodge Project!

at the Stompin’ Grounds Coffee Shop in downtown Beulah!

February 10th and 11th 8am to noon

You’ll receive an 8x10 high quality color or b & w photograph

(indoor or outdoor)

Cost: $15 ($10 goes to the MPEC Horseshoe Lodge Project)

Take a photo with the one you love, or something you love and help to rebuild the historic Horseshoe Lodge that we love!

Photographs may be picked up on/after February 16th at The
Stompin’ Grounds. Must be paid in full the day photo is taken.

For more information, contact the MPEC at 485-4444
or The Stompin’ Grounds at 485-0852.


Grandma Emma's Snowshoe Fund-Raiser for the Horseshoe Lodge

Here are some photos of this past Sunday's Snowshoe Fund-Raiser for Women, organized by the wonderful MPEC member and supporter, Susan Finzel-Aldred. As a volunteer member of the MPEC's Horseshoe Lodge Action Group, Susan is organizing several of thee fun events in memory of her naturalist Grandma Emma. The day also included a tour of the Horseshoe Lodge, treats, and a slide presentation on the Lodge Project. If you would like to organize a similar program for your friends or group, contact the MPEC at mpec@fone.net.


Pueblo Mountain Park's Icy Canyon

All the snow and winter cold has turned the park's Devil's Canyon into a world of ice. I snowshoed into the canyon about 10 days ago with my 3-year old grandson Jude, his first time ever on snowshoes. He walked about 85% of the way to the canyon (and fell about 85 times, most of them intentionally). Although big for his age, he's still a little guy, and the hike in pretty much wiped him out. I carried him about 95% of the way out. Anyway, the canyon was amazing, with massive amounts of frozen water in all sorts of configurations decorating the canyon's walls. Large icicles (we hiked up to one - very awesome), frozen waterfalls... I did not have my camera, so I made a point of snowshoeing in the next day with my camera. Here are a few photos that I took that day (taken Jan. 18 or 19, I believe).
This is my 31st winter in Beulah, and it is turning out to be one of the best for x-country skiing and snowshoeing. The consecutive storms and chilly temps have created an excellent base...hopefully, this will all last. I've measured 97" of snow so far this winter. Over 20" more than last winter, and less than 20" away from an average winter's entire snow total. With a normal amount of snow in March and April (statistically, March and April are number one and two in snowfall - we'll have to wait and see what these months bring) and winter 2007 will go into the books as well above average. Yes, we're still very much in winter, and I'm enjoying it, but I'm also thinking about wildflowers, because all this snow should translate into a great wildflower season this spring and summer.
So, this is the first time I've "blogged." The MPEC's great computer tech (Board Member Greg Smith) and my brilliant wife (Board Member Helene Van Manen) convinced me that an MPEC Blog will be a great way to share stories and happenings, so here we go... Let me know what you think, share your own stories, comments, sightings, photos.
Now a blogger, Ranger Dave