20031744_10154499665347583_6466757117516609711_nBy Brittney Jill

The feeling of awe overtook me while looking out from the 14,172 foot summit of Mt. Bross at the terrain I had just conquered. We set out from the Kite Lake trailhead and in just over six hours I had visited four peaks, all over 14,000 feet!  Being from Massachusetts, the term “fourteener” isn’t really in our vocabulary. So this hike, this accomplishment, really made me feel like I had assimilated into my new home state of Colorado.  The Colorado landscape and these challenging hikes bring in many tourists and adventure seekers looking to bag their next peak but I wondered as I peered out among my fellow trail stompers (an impressive mix of folks) what this hike meant to them.

The mountains are more important to the state of Colorado than just the tourist economy of Rocky Mountain National Park or a killer snowboarding season. These mountains are the source of a vital life source: water. Before hearing about the #hikeforwater campaign, I myself had not put much thought into the connection between our mountains and our water sources. Yes, of course we can all think back to learning about different bodies of water and where they come from and how they are formed. But how often are you thinking about that when you open the tap for a drink of water? This sparked me to investigate where my water in Greeley came from.

It took minimal effort to discover that three out of four of the major water sources in Greeley all came from rivers which were fed by Rocky Mountain snow pack: the Cache la Poudre, the Colorado River, and the Big Thompson River. Sometimes out here where the mountains are bumps on the horizon it’s hard to picture your water coming from the highest peaks of the Rockies. There wasn’t much snow remaining on the peaks we visited in late July so I tried to imagine the journey each droplet made as it melted away under the hot sun to make it into these major water sources and ultimately my pipes at home.  Imagine the adventure! Sliding down the slopes, meeting up with other droplets and forming little run-off streams, twisting and turning as it takes the path of least resistance and joining larger and larger bodies of water until it eventually ends up in one of these rivers. If water droplets could talk what a story they’d tell! Once they have made the journey from peak to valley and conglomerate in these rivers, people take over for mother nature and direct the water. Thanks to engineering, some of that water travels across the Continental Divide, into reservoirs and onto agricultural land or into city water systems which feed our businesses, schools and homes.

It’s amazing how something as simple as entering a contest can change your perspective.  Before, hiking for me was never about water, it was adventure and a connection to nature, a physical challenge, and a visit to my childhood. Now as I sit here sipping my Greeley municipal water the Rocky Mountains and feeling it flow through me, now I #hike4water.

21151713_1577973718919952_3744724959600551065_nThe #hike4water contest ends on Sunday September 17. To enter: 

  1. FOLLOW. You must first follow @lovecoloradowater and @watereducationCO on Instagram and Facebook.
  2. POST. Using Instagram or Facebook, post one photo of you hiking a 14er in Colorado, tagging @lovecoloradowater and @watereducationCO. Be sure to include #Hike4Water.

Prizes include:

  • $100 Bass Pro Shops gift card
  • John Fielder photo book, Colorado’s Yampa River: Free-Flowing and Wild from the Flat Tops to the Green
  • High quality art print of the painting “Rainbow Warrior” by local artist Blake Snowden

The contest is brought to you by Colorado WaterWise and the Colorado Foundation for Water Education   

Brittney is a student at Northern Colorado University  working toward a Ph.D. in chemistry education. When she’s not teaching or studying you can find her in the mountains or out seeing live music.  She loves spreading her passion for education, music and our earth!

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