Steamboat Springs While their classmates were busy in English and math classes Monday, seventh-grader Dani Perry and eighth-graders Michael Savory and Patrick Weston were hauling around 20-pound backpacks on Rabbit Ears Pass.
Everything Outdoors Steamboat, a program at the Steamboat Springs Middle School, exposes students to outdoor activities such as ice climbing, rock climbing, kayaking and mountain biking.
The most recent trip, held March 18 and 19, was small by EOS standards, but it was beneficial, said the three middle school students who accompanied teacher Matt Tredway and chaperone Pete Perry to a secluded area in Hogan Park.
"There was nobody there," Patrick said. "We saw only one set of hikers."
The point of the trip was for the students to have fun, but they also missed one day of school, so Tredway aimed to have the children receive some educational benefit from choosing to go on an EOS trip.
"I wanted them to learn how to be comfortable in the winter," Tredway said. "It's the perfect time to be out. There are no people. There are no bugs."
The students helped build and haul snow blocks for their igloos, which they slept in instead of tents. They also carried 20-pound backpacks with food and supplies into the campsite on snowshoes.
"It made me interested in snowshoeing," Michael said. "I hadn't really snowshoed a lot here."
The students were required to gather snow to melt as their water source for drinking and cooking.
"All the water we drank was warm," Patrick said.
It was the first time the trio of students had camped outdoors during the winter. Dani, whose father, Pete, was one of the chaperones, said she had fun sleeping in an igloo.
It was surprisingly warm and soundproof, which helped the students understand why men and women who live close to the Arctic Circle live in igloos.
"It was definitely something to remember," Dani said. "My dad was real interested in it."
The students also learned how important it is to be prepared and protected when spending a night outdoors in the winter. Michael and Patrick said their igloo had a small hole in the roof, which made for a cold night beneath the stars on Rabbit Ears Pass.
"The hardest part was getting up in the morning and changing clothes," Michael said.
Tredway, who attempted to summit Mount Everest last spring in extreme winter conditions on extreme terrain, told the students to stick their personal belongings in their sleeping bags to keep them warm overnight, but the students couldn't fit everything into the bags with them.
Tredway, who camped outside in a tent, said conditions were perfect for the trip. During the day, while the students snowshoed around and built the campsite, temperatures were in the 40s on the pass, but they dropped at least 30 degrees when the sun set.
"We learned survival skills," Patrick said. "It was fun."
- To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org