'Backpack' scavenging offered

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— Partners in Interpretation and Yampatika are offering families a scavenger hunt in a backpack this winter.

The scavenger hunt doesn't take place in the backpack, but over the snowy trails of the city park and ski area known as Howelsen Hill. More appropriately, the contents of the backpack might be described as a winter nature discovery kit.

"The backpacks contain books and all the materials people need" to learn more about the natural winter environment, said Karen Vail of Yampatika.

"There is a thermometer to measure snow temperature, magnifying glasses to look at snow crystals and insects, and cloud cards" to help identify weather patterns.

Vail said most people will be surprised to find out how many insects are active in winter.

"Even in the snow, there are snow midges those tiny little microscopic" insects, Vail said.

The backpack also includes a map of Howelsen Hill, where the scavenger hunt takes place along a one-mile loop.

Scavengers are urged to call Yampatika ahead to reserve one of the two backpacks, Vail said. They can pick it up at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Tenth Street and begin their hunt on foot from there.

People interested in snowshoeing can also reserve a limited number of snowshoes from Yampatika at no charge.

Once at Howelsen, the scavenger hunters will seek out the locations of six points on the map, where envelopes containing instructions can be found hanging in the trees.

The instructions guide the hunters on how to use the contents of the backpacks in exercises including tree identification.

For example, hunters will learn how to discern among the lodge pole pine, subalpine fir and Douglas fir growing on Howelsen.

Other trips offered by Partners in Interpretation through March include: Emerald Mountain snowshoe tour on Tuesdays and Saturdays, a Rabbit Ears cross-country ski tour on Wednesdays, a snowshoe tour on the Uranium Mine Road on Thursdays, and a Vista Verde snowshoe/cross-country ski tour in the upper Elk River Valley on Fridays.

Guided nature ski tours are offered at the top of the Why Not ski run at the top of the gondola from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Meet at the big red sign.

Look for more details in Partners' advertisement in today's edition of Steamboat Today, or call Yampatika at 879-8140 or 871-9151.

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