on November 27, 2016 by in Golden News, Comments Off on ‘It just illuminates the senses to be in nature’

‘It just illuminates the senses to be in nature’

There are few better ways to appreciate the unseasonably warm late autumn weather than a morning hike at Bear Creek Lake Park.

For park ranger Jody Morse and the six women who participated in the Senior Naturalist class on Nov. 16, their hike wasn’t so much about the clear blue sky or wind through the trees, as it was about keeping their eyes on the ground, searching for animal tracks and scat.

“This is an inquiry-based learning experience,” Morse told the students at the park’s visitor center. “I see things differently than other people and want to give all of you the same tools.”

The park hosts Senior Naturalist classes throughout the year to provide seniors with hands-on learning about a variety of park-related subjects.

The Nov. 16 class started with an hour spent in the visitor’s center, where Morse displayed some of the park’s mammal pelts and got students thinking by asking them questions like: Why did you pick this pelt up? What does it tell you about the animal? What might it tell us about what it eats?

As they worked through the pelts, students shared their thoughts and some of their favorite wildlife encounters.

“These claws aren’t near as big as I thought they would be,” said one student as they examined a bear paw.

“Big enough to get the job done,” another replied.

“I just like this conversation,” Morse said. “I like them using phrases like, ‘I wonder’ or ‘I think.’ “

Once Morse had shared some facts on bears, coyotes, foxes, mountain lions and beavers, as well as some tips for spotting and studying tracks and scat, it was time to take to the trail.

The class moved to Muskrat Meadows, where they spent an hour wandering on and off the trail, pointing out deer tracks, dog scat and beaver chews.

“Often, you don’t see the animals –; just what they leave behind,” Morse said.

But on the way back to the cars, participants were treated to an eight-animal deer herd, less than 30 yards away.

“It’s awesome being out on a day like this,” Jeffco resident Barbara Guinn said. “It just illuminates the senses to be in nature.”

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