Mountain Girls!

Mountain Girls provides girls ages 10-13 with an opportunity to build confidence, peer relationships, health, leadership, and a love of nature through outdoor activities (hiking, mountain biking, running, games, yoga), mindfulness, play, and creativity. 

We will us the “Full of Ourselves” Curriculum to guide discussions, journaling and action to build self awareness, confidence, and leadership skills.

The program is led by Katie Macaulay who is thrilled to share these passions with girls.

Ages 10-13 | Mondays, 3:30-6:30pm

September-May (seasonal registration)

Fall Dates: September 23, 30, October 7, 21, 28, November 4, 18, 25, December 2, 9
Drop-Off and Pick-up at Fort Marcy Park.

Challenge Level:

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August 19: Cooking Adventures in Nature

Monday morning greeted the Mountain Kids with the chance to harvest apples at the beaver ponds, which of course included some tree climbing for those who felt called to do so!

The Eagles were very successful in the apple hunt, picking more than 200 apples in a short amount of time! They did most of the coring and slicing of apples to make apple sauce for everyone to take home. (The Hummers would have their turn on Thursday with the peaches!)

On Tuesday morning we sliced and strung apples to dry them for a lovely dried fruit snack.

The remainder of the day was spent hiking at Tsankawi,
part of Bandelier National Monument. The children learned about how the Ancestral Pueblo people once lived. While enjoying lunch in a wonderfully cool cave dwelling. Mountain Kids learned of the many different types of food and animals in the local area and the ways in which the Native peoples would have gone about harvesting and hunting them for food.

 

On Wednesday, we headed out to Rio en Medio, where we were able to gather fallen acorns and experience the sweet taste of freshly plucked red currant berries and a few raspberries along the trail.

The heat of the afternoon was spent splashing about the crisp river water, creating dams and building boats from nature to sail down the river. On our travels back to Santa Fe, the Mountain Kids spotted a couple of beautiful fruit trees full of apricots and apples, which they harvested for a juicy afternoon snack! Foraging sure is fun, and tasty. 🙂

The Eagles hiked to the Rio en Medio waterfall, crossing the river many times, an adventure in itself. It was a challenge if you wanted to keep your feet dry!  We and had a blast getting wet and exploring the frigid waterfall at the end of the hike.

That afternoon the Eagles headed to Chupadero for our Cooking Adventure Campout. We roasted our dinner in the ground (Chicken, sweet potatoes, and corn), learned how to use a handdrill and bowdrill to start a fire, and pitched a large shade structure to provide respite from the hot sun.

We enjoyed time around the campfire roasting apples, apricots and telling stories. A quick rainstorm didn’t deter us from a fun evening under the stars.

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday morning started with an early trip to the Tesuque Pueblo, where the Hummingbirds and the Eagles joined together to pick peaches for the Pueblo people.

In return for the hard work gathering the fruit, we were able to pick our own peaches to enjoy and take home. Soon after we found our way to Chupadero where we spent the afternoon slicing peaches for a fruit compote and practicing archery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone got to take home fresh peaches that afternoon. YUM!!

With our bellies full of sweet fruit, it was nice to spend Friday playing in the woods and exploring our creative side. The Mountain Kids headed up and into the mountains where we spent the afternoon building shelters at Aspen Vista, creating hand made bows, arrows, and spears (from sticks, rocks, and yarn). It was a ‘sweet’ end to a super sweet and tasty week of foraging, eating, camping and archery! What an awesome end to an amazing summer 2019! Thank you families for being a part of it! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 22: Wonders of Water

The Mountain Kids had an exciting introduction to the many wonders of water on Monday, a day spent venturing through the nearby Beaver Ponds, where the team learned about the adaptations of beavers, discovered many fascinating (and wildly unexpected) fossils, and played in the refreshing water of the Santa Fe River.

Tuesday was a day filled with much more water (and mud, too!) at Abiquiu Lake. The children were able to imagine the scarcity of water in our waterways with the Water Scarcity Game, before heading out to Abiquiu. It certainly did not take the Mountain Kids! long before they were jumping into waist-deep mud and making a real splash with a cannonball contests into the lake!

The Hummingbirds caught a glimpse of the unyielding strength of water during our hike, on Wednesday to the waterfall at Rio en Medio. Some children recognized how the trail had completely changed in some areas due to recent heavy rains, and that several of the river crossings were much wider and more difficult to maneuver. We were super impressed with the hearty group, making it all the way to the waterfall! A big hike for little legs.

With a challenging hike under our belts, Thursday came as a breath of fresh air. We discussed where our water comes from in Santa Fe, and learned about our local watershed before enjoying a much shorter hike through the refreshing water on our way up to the Nambe Falls. Here, the children splashed and played, made mud pies, practiced stacking rocks, and enjoyed the cool refreshing water in the falls.

It surely was an exciting week filled with lots of wonderful water! Friday was a lovely day for the team to come together, once more, and enjoy several games after a hike down the Little Tesuque trail.  Thanks for a great week, all!

The Secret Language of Birds & Bugs: July 15-20

It was a bugging good week for the Mountain Kids! Monday’s adventure on the Aspen Vista trail, accompanied by the Hummingbird’s hand-crafted bug catchers, provided a lovely introduction to a variety of our local bugs and birds. Tent Caterpillars painted the dirt paths and climbed up the aspen trees which allowed for fun and easy hands-on access to the little critters! After spending the morning reviewing some of the characteristics of different birds and bugs common in our area, the Hummingbirds practiced their creativity in a few rounds of bug and bird charades!

Wade, our wonderful bug friend in town, met with the team on Tuesday and guided us on a hike to several different bugs. The Mountain Kids learned about local spiders, beetles, ants, grasshoppers, water insects, and many more during their time at the Beaver Ponds.

With lots of new information concerning different bugs, the Hummingbirds were ‘antsy’ for their visit to the Bug Museum on Wednesday. The team met with Wade, again, at the Harrell House Bug Museum, where they held different bugs, watched the spiders and tarantulas get fed, and explored several different caged critters.

On Thursday, the Hummingbirds buzzed on over to the Santa Fe Raptor Center where they met with a variety of different owls and falcons and learned about their characteristics, diets, and different habitats. Each child was able to spritz one of the falcons with water to help him cool off in the heat. Boy – it sure was a hot one! The Hummingbirds also had their chance to cool off by splashing around in the river in El Rito.

We finished our day with watermelon and ‘appreciations’.  It was sweet to hear the kids appreciating new friends they had made, the birds they saw, bugs they met and the counselors who lead them throughout the week.

Friday was a sweet end to the week spent playing in the mud and water at Nambe Falls!

June 17-21: Backpacking Wheeler Peak

We had an impressive group of campers for our three-day backpacking trip. After a successful prep day on Monday, we headed up to the Wheeler Peak Wilderness. Our spectacular winter meant that there was still a substantial amount of snow on the ground, and our campers did a stellar job traversing the trail and, most importantly, being helpful and encouraging to each other even when the going got tough.

During our first evening, our campers proved that they were ready to learn the basic skills of backcountry travel: how to set up tents, how to cook safely, how to navigate, how to sleep warm, etc.

Each camper took on a different job every day (such as being in charge of cooking a meal, or being a Leader of the Day – in charge of pacing and group dynamics) and they rose to those jobs with aplomb. We all went to bed tired, happy, and excited for the following day.

On our second day, and after an early rise, we started the trek up Wheeler Peak, the highest point in New Mexico, at 13,167 feet. It took us 7 hours, round trip, to get to the highest point in New Mexico, a stellar view that feels more like Colorado or the Alps!

Due to the snow levels, it was an even more exciting hike than usual: lots off off-trail rerouting, careful snow-stepping, and glissading down low-angle sections. Again, we were very impressed with the campers spirit and ability to help each other. They were wonderfully cheerful and resilient in the face of this challenging climb.

Overall, it was a great trip. In true backpacking style, we returned dirty, tired, and happy, having had an experience that we will never forget.

June 3-7: Wilderness Skills with Overnight Campout

What a busy and fun week we had!  On our first day we made mini-survival kits and headed out to the Beaver Ponds where we hiked, played Eagle Eye (a sneaking and hiding camouflage game), climbing the perfect climbing tree, learning how to use a compass and a topographic map, and found fossils on the walk back to the van. Phew!  

Day Two started with a discussion of Leave No Trace principles by Annie, our very own LNT Trainer!  After snack and games we headed up to the Norski Trails where we learned how to build survival shelters and then made our own in small groups. As we hiked, we had fun playing many types of games, shared by counselors and campers alike. (Thank you, Ella for bringing your repertoire:). We enjoyed singing The Bear Song and Bats Eat Bugs on the trail and in the van.

Day Three was our big camping day.  With storms on the horizon there was a question about whether we would be able to sleep in our shelters.  We prepared for the storm by setting up tents, a group tarp, and gathering firewood and putting it under a tarp.  Once we were ready for the evening and prepared for the storm, we worked on our shelters, made survival bracelets and enjoyed many rounds of Meet-A-Tree.  

Back at the camp, we learned about fire-making and made a warming fire for us to gather around. Then the rain came for a short time during dinner, when we retreated to the group tarp for Nacho-making, and a short stint in our tents. After the rain, we were able to emerge for a perfect evening around the fire of stories, songs and laughter.  

Our last full day together we made water filters and talked about a variety of ways to purify water in the wilderness, an important skill! We practiced filtering water with a gravity filter on our hike down the Winsor Trail to the Rio en Medio.  The campers were eager for more Meet-a-Tree so we partnered up for this fun sensory game again before we gathered to share our appreciations of the week. We then brainstormed the many uses for a bandana and each camper was gifted a bandana to take home.

What a wonderful week and a great group of campers!  Thank you all for making this such fun!

May 28-31 Backcountry Service Trip

Our first ever Backcountry Service trip was a great success! The best part, according to most, was the incredible food.  Thanks to the Backcountry Horsemen and Kevin Balciar, we ate like kings and queens. My son’s comment was: “We eat better here than we do at home, Mom!”  (Sadly, there is some truth to that, especially this time of year!;)

Other highlights included learning to build a Tyrolian Traverse to cross the raging Pecos River for our commute to work each day. Afterward, we discovered there was a log bridge which was quite handy, but it was nice to have learned this skill and fun to zip across the river to work in the morning.

We spent our first day out there getting settled, enjoying the beauty around us, building the traverse and playing games such as Eagle Eye and Ninja.  The boys worked together to build a fire, which was difficult at first, but they got better as the days progressed. They became skilled at building with damp wood, and finding dry wood when most of the wood was damp.

On Days 2 and 3 we got to work on the trails. Pete Prince from the Santa Fe Fat Tire Society, led us in the trail work, which involved finding and rolling large boulders into place to create high spots on the trail to prevent erosion.  We built water bars and trimmed trees and shrubs to accommodate the wide and tall load of equestrian traffic. It was hard work, but we were blessed with some nice cool days and clouds, ample food and water, and a spirited hard-working group.  

We hiked to Cave Creek after work on the third day. It was a beautiful walk with so many wildflowers in bloom and the Pecos River raging. On the way back the rain started to fall and we were blessed with a wonderful thunderstorm shortly after we arrived back to our tents. A perfect moment to relax in our tents and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Our evenings were spent around the fire where we made up stories during a story circle, played games, ate s’mores, and shared appreciations.   

We are so grateful to Pete, Kevin and the Backcountry Horsemen for making this trip possible and so delicious.  Thank you to the kids who came and worked hard to improve our trails. They have learned some new skills, and no doubt, a newfound appreciation for our trails.

Three Day Backpacking to Wheeler Peak!

We climbed Wheeled Peak on our three-backpacking trip to find out what we were made of. It turns out we are made of tears and laughter, dancing and determination, strength and acts of kindness.

It was a long, tough climb to 13,170 feet (5 miles one way) to the highest point in New Mexico. When the going got tough for one camper in our party, we called a group meeting to talk about how we could support one another to get there. One friend stepped forward to carry their shared backpack. We gave another permission to play his music so he could dance us up the mountain, which was cheering for all. The friendship and camaraderie of a third helped both of them to feel supported and able to carry on.

I stayed in the back with the slower campers. We took lots of breaks, enjoyed the scenery, the rainbow of wildflowers, and saw a whole family of big horned sheep. The going was hard but steady. After multiple (disappointing) ‘false summits’, we finally made it to Wheeler Peak, the top of New Mexico!

This kind of experience can’t be measured in feet and miles however, but sweat, tears, and gumption.

The memories made, the friendships gained, and the confidence that comes with overcoming hardship to achieve the seemingly impossible is what will stick with these kids as they move back into their daily lives.

I am so proud of all the Mountain (climbing) Kids! for working hard and supporting each other to reach this incredible goal.  – Katie

What an impressive week! Our courageous campers hiked, ran, skipped, and occasionally danced their way to the top of Wheeler Peak, the highest point in New Mexico, after a serious amount of preparation. Their physical capabilities and positive mental attitudes were truly impressive. We rounded the week off with some kayaking at Santa Cruz Lake. Nothing beats gliding around on cool, calm water after spending the week aiming to summit the next grand peak! – Max