In continued preparation for their spring Outdoor Ed trips in March, the middle school cohorts ventured to Steamboat Lake and Rabbit Ears Pass over the past two weeks for learning in the field. Each trip included an array of applicable curriculum, all of which extends from the classroom into real-world application. From an academic standpoint, the trips centered on avalanche protocol and the science behind slides. Students worked in groups to dig avalanche pits all the way to ground level, which was roughly seven feet down in both locations. From there, they were able to identify different snow levels and assess their varying consistencies. Most importantly, they saw first-hand that the bottom layer in and around Steamboat currently consists of 18 inches of ‘sugary’ snow – highly granulated, not well compacted, and prone to slide – which is particularly dangerous since it makes the layers above it less stable. Therefore, they acquired direct knowledge of why this year has been one of the most dangerous avalanche seasons in state history, and why to stay away from any slope steeper than 30 degrees. Both trips likewise centered on the practical and enjoyable methods of snowshoeing, and thereby assisted students in appreciating the surrounding beauty of our local wilderness. Within their hiking groups, they worked in partnerships and applied NOLS methodologies: look out for your own health by eating and drinking what you need; look out for your trail group’s larger health and pace; stay together; develop tolerance for adversity in reacting to the elements; leave no trace. Such strategies may seem intuitive, though they take a lot of practice in actuality, and they are critical for both the skills that kids will need on their longer outdoor adventures in the spring and for their daily collaborative undertakings back on campus. Both cohorts developed stronger bonds with their peers, sang songs, scouted scenery for the Macbeth film, became more familiar with their gear over longer stretches of mileage, learned about aspen groves and weather patterns, and generally enjoyed the various riches afforded by a classroom without walls. On route 1A up Rabbit Ears with the 5-6, we passed a couple heading southeast. All of the students moved a step off trail to their right to give the duo room to pass, and we readjusted our masks to make sure everything was in order. One hiker leaned in toward me, saying, “This is fantastic. Do these kids realize how lucky they are?” Before I could reply, several students piped in, “Yeah, we do!” I smiled in concurrence, and we ventured on up the hill.