Educational, Exhilarating and Fun! This describes our hugely successful overnight Partners for Plants trip with the Broadmoor Garden Club.

Twenty-three members from both clubs met at the Beaver Meadows Visitors Center and van-pooled to the historic McGraw Ranch. In a beautiful field there, our two RMNP rangers, Terry and Camille, gave us an overview of the restoration work they do in the park and taught us how to identify western wheatgrass, Pascopyrum smithii. This is a native species that is not found widely around the park, and has a look-alike species that we had to be careful to avoid. While collecting this seed, we let a few fall and made sure not to collect every one, to ensure that the population continues to be healthy in this field. We collected 23 bags of seed to be grown out in the greenhouse and used in reseeding projects throughout the park!

After a successful afternoon of seed collecting, many of us took a driving tour through the park where we encountered the bucolic scene of a bugling bull elk and his harem in Sheep Lake Park. Elk were everywhere in Estes Park. We even had to stop to wait for another group of them to move out of the street.

Patty Freudenberg and the Broadmoor Garden Club hosted us all for delicious wine and tapas on her expansive deck with a view of Longs Peak and surrounding mountains. We toasted the 100th birthday of the National Parks and the Denver Garden Club and heard all about GCD’s Centennial Project with History Colorado Center and the National Parks for 4th graders statewide.

GCD members were graciously hosted overnight at the Grant Family’s charming, historic cabins. We stoked up the fire to ward off the cool autumn night. Good conversation, delicious treats, like dark chocolate covered mangos, and a full moon stroll in the wildflower field capped off the wonderful day.

Our hike to Mills Lake the following morning was above and beyond all expectations! We walked through beautiful “Colorado Gold” aspen groves, past stunning Alberta Falls and up, up, up to the beautiful lake with Long’s Peak in the background. We were all amazed by the lush tapestry of fall color created by wild blueberries, chokecherries and flower foliage, which had already turned brilliant reds, oranges and yellows. Liza, our knowledgeable guide answered dozens of questions and kept us all together throughout this 5 mile hike.

We concluded this action-packed couple of days with a scrumptious lunch of salads and sandwiches on the Grant’s relaxing back porch. After filling up with the beauty of RMNP, and with the satisfaction that we helped make a difference in their restoration work, we said our farewells to the BGC members. We hope this is the launching pad for similar future projects with our “sister club” in Colorado Springs.

Sally and Cindy and Liza had lots of fun planning this project in celebration of RMNP and GCD’s joint Centennial with Jennifer Sundman, BGC’s Conservation Chair (and Cindy’s sister). Many heartfelt thanks to Rhondda and Liza, and Patty!

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