We pulled into the Canyon of the Ancients Guest Ranch in the beautiful McElmo Canyon, and our hosts warmly welcomed our excited group of first-and second-grade Telluride Mountain School students. The ranchers were moving cattle into the fields, and our hosts directed us straight to our cabins out of harm's way. So it began, and we dove into ranch life, living amongst chickens, sheep, lambs, cattle, cats, dogs, and rabbits. The trees were perfect for climbing and shade, and the kids began to melt into the scenery, but the ranch was just part of this fantastic adventure. We traveled to remote and enchanted ruins in southwest Colorado. Lowry Pueblo, which stands taller and more significant than most Ancient Puebloan ruins, taught us about the gatherings of Native people from all over the region over one thousand years ago. We visited a house and grand kiva where Native Americans would join for trading, ceremonies, and greetings. We walked the surrounding land, seeing pottery shards at every step, imagining what once was there. The contours of the land helped us visualize the dwellings that lay beneath us; an entire civilization that was once living there was now rubble. The kids learned games, threw the Atl-Atl, painted, and reflected. Hovenweep National Monument was just down the road and dated human habitation from over 10,000 years. A place to hunt and grow food, it was home to over 2,500 settlers in the 1200s. Near the end of the trip, our hosts, Yanua and Manual, treated us to an incredible Navajo Taco workshop complete with blue corn mush, a traditional Navajo dish representing friendship, healing, and strength.
This was a trip for growth, independence, adventure, exploration, and a lot of fun.