Operations suspended due to COVID-19

Due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, all Boulder ICO outings, including any listed below, are suspended until further notice. If possible, the listed outings will be rescheduled when our operations resume.

Boulder Valley ICO Blog

It Works!

Thursday, February 27 2020

Posted by Michael

So the thing is that, in ICO, the kids usually come and go, and, so, it's sometimes difficult to know what, if any, impact we're having. And, I'm sure that, with some, the impact is, in fact, negligible. But, then, there are some kids who, you can tell, seem to "get it". Some of those kids, like Ali Doumbia, go on to become program volunteers and, so, you're never left wondering if your hours committed the program had an impact. But then there are kids who don't stay on the radar. Years go by with no news. And, then, like Ali's classmate, Alma Garcia, they pop up, smack in the middle of the radar screen. And, in that moment, you know the impact we're having is real, not imagined, not hoped-for, but actually just what each of us wishes for from the hours that we invest in this program. Tabling tonight at the Family Resource Summer Program fair, I learned that Alma (who was staffing another table) now works for Boulder Parks & Recreation, doing outreach to the same community we serve. And, yeah, we'll now be running trips in partnership with them. But, just in case you didn't get it, just in case you were...

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Wildlife tracking part 1

Friday, January 31 2020

Posted by Drew

We kicked off our wildlife tracking at the end of January with a short hike up Gregory Canyon. After inching our way up a very icy trail, we cut over to the north side of the canyon and followed game trails up a side gully, crossing a frozen waterfall along the way. Animal sign was abundant near this water source. There were deer droppings (of course) but also bear scat from last fall. You can see bits of fur as well as berry seeds in it.

The kids also found the remains of a hornet's nest, thankfully without the hornets.

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ICO is an inclusive organization and so we were thrilled when 19 kids showed up ready to hit the snow.

We were greeted at the East Portal trailhead by an abundance of snow, sunny skies (not unusual) and an absence of wind (very unusual and very welcome). We immediately set about getting the kids strapped into their snowshoes.

It was a truly spectacular day in a beautiful winter wilderness setting

We hiked our way through the deep winter forest, dodging skiers and crossing log bridges over frozen streams

read more about Snow Caves & Snow Ice Cream

The skies cleared after the first snow of fall as we headed up to Moraine Park in RMNP. Our all-boy crew of six wasted no time in instigating epic snowball wars once we arrived at the campground and got the tents set up. We then took a short hike down to the meadows to do some Tenkara-style fishing on the Big Thompson River. 

Wood-chopping was the skill of the day, and was much-needed as the night turned cold and windy. We had a dinner of cajun rice and beans followed by smores around the campfire and then turned in. The wind pretty much roared all night, nearly flattening the tents at times.

After a breakfast of french toast croissants, we saddled up and hiked 3 miles up the canyon of the Big Thompson to The Pool, where we got in some more fishing, rock climbing and snacking.

read more about Car camping in Rocky Mtn National Park


We made the 3 hour drive to the Snowy Range on a hot summer day to find the road to the trailhead completely blocked by huge drifts of snow. Apparently the cold wet spring we had in Colorado was even colder and wetter in Wyoming. Usually there are only a few lone patches of snow in the gullies and passes by mid-July. It was clear that we would have to adapt our trip to the conditions--not an uncommon occurance on wilderness trips.

We lunched by the highway, then saddled up and began walking the road toward Lewis Lake, climbing over drifts and seeing plenty of evidence of just how snowy the Snowies can be.

Still winter at Libby Lake picnic ground

With progress slow we decided not to try for the pass, but spent some time fishing at Lewis Lake (the fish were few and winter-skinny), then searched around for a camp spot. We finally found a place that was level but dry and called it a day.

At a group powwow the next morning we decided to head for the pass and see if the lakes in the basin below (our original destination)

read more about The Snowies: Backpacking & Fishing in The Snowy Range!

Casey Club Drawing in Nature

Monday, April 08 2019

Posted by Deb

We had a great time drawing in nature in Eben Fine park! The weather was great, the artists were present and produced some great work. What a great way to end the day!

Please Do This Today!

Friday, March 22 2019

Posted by Michael

Dear BVICO Volunteers & Supporters:

We have a huge opportunity to almost effortlessly resource our program through a new fundraising tool available from King Soopers. After you register your King Soopers loyalty card to BVICO, a percentage of what you spend at King Soopers is donated to BVICO. If you don't already have a King Soopers loyalty card, you can pick one up for free at the customer service desk at any King Soopers or City Market. If you already have a card but have forgotten the number, their website can look up the card number for you using your phone number. To get started with all of this, just click here. The organization code to use in registering your loyalty card to BVICO is: TP399. You can also look us up by name: Boulder Valley Inspiring Connections Outdoors.

If you can give this just a few minutes of your time today, it'll mean a lot for the long-term financial strength and stability of our program. It really is very simple and easy to do. I created our organizational account on...

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ICO volunteers up their first aid game

Thursday, March 21 2019

Posted by Drew

Our mission at ICO is to provide kids with wilderness experiences that are safe, fun and free. We want parents to be confident that their kids' safety is always our top priority. To that end, ICO encourages our volunteers to take first aid training, and pays for most or all of their course costs.

Three of our volunteers - Michael, Deb and Drew - attended the MEDIC Solo School Disaster and Wilderness First Aid course held Mar 16-17 at Thorne Nature Center. Over 16 hours of intensive instruction, this course focuses on dealing with medical emergencies when help is far away, with emphasis was on Response and Assessment, Musculoskeletal Injuries, Environmental Emergencies, Survival Skills, Soft Tissue Injuries, and Medical Emergencies. 


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Essay Contest for 4th to 6th Graders: Why the Outdoors Matters

Monday, March 18 2019

Posted by Michael

The Sierra Club and other similar organizations is sponsoring an essay writing contest on why the outdoors matters. Please share this opportunity with any kids you know who might be interested. There is prize money! http://www.scholastic.com/outdoorsallianceforkids/

ICO volunteers are available to help edit/revise essays should there be an applicant who wants this sort of help.

Study: Kids Who Spend Time in Nature Become Happier Adults

Thursday, March 14 2019

Posted by Michael

In the ICO community, we think this is pretty obvious, so this is just more evidence of what we know to be true:

Study: Kids Who Spend Time in Nature Become Happier Adults


It was a blustery day but the sun was out and there was plenty of snow for our romp in Rocky Mountain National Park. Camp robbers visited during lunch, much to the delight of the kids, and, though the day was chilly, everyone reported having a good time. On the way home we stopped by the area where we might have fished had the weather been a bit more cooperative. We did see many fish but were glad to have chosen snowshoeing over casting in the wind.



It was a blustery day but the sun was out and there was plenty of snow for our romp in Rocky Mountain National Park. Camp robbers visited during lunch, much to the delight of the kids, and, though the day was chilly, everyone reported having a good time. On the way home we stopped by the area where we might have fished had the weather been a bit more cooperative. We did see many fish but were glad to have chosen snowshoeing over casting in the wind.



Instead of watching the most boring Super Bowl in history, ICO kids got to spend a sunny winter day exploring the beautiful canyon of South Boulder Creek as it winds through Walker Ranch.

The water was low and so the fish were wary. But the kids showed real improvement in their flycasting skills - including dealing with the inevitable snags on trees and creek bottoms. Although no fish were caught, everyone enjoyed fresh-cooked quesadillas with peppers and chorizo, Bobo's bars and chocolate chip cookies. 

But the big attraction was the canyon itself. We followed the trail up to the bridge, and then left it for a bushwhack and rock scramble through tall pines and snowbanks up to the upper trailhead just below the dam. A short, steep scramble up the canyon wall brought us to the car and ended our day of enjoying some of the finest winter country in the Boulder foothills.

Sam and Tupak traverse the rocky canyon

We had a small group for our first outing of the new year, but they turned out to be ready to have fun in the snow.

The wind was howling as usual when we arrived at Moffat Tunnel, but calmed down considerably once we got into the trees and a bit higher up in the S Boulder Creek Valley. The sun was out and the snow was deep and fresh, making for excellent snowshoeing conditions. We reached our spot at the first meadows in decent time. The crew set to work right away at digging a cave in the deep drifts while we melted snow for hot chocolate. Drew forgot to bring a can opener to make snow ice cream, but we had plenty of food: cheese cubes, Bobo's bars and chocolate chip cookies.

Max used a snow claw to groom a butt-sledding course down the gully and the kids took breaks from digging and snacking to hurl themselves down the chute. All in all it was an excellent snow outing, one of several that we'll be running this winter. Don't miss out on the fun next time!

Atzin was a champion snow digger

read more about Snowcaves & Snow Ice Cream

Drew Smith to Receive Colorado Sierra Club Volunteer Award!

Friday, December 21 2018

Posted by Michael

In recognition of his tireless work in leading great outings, running our after-school program at Casey Middle School, and managing our excellent gear depot, the Colorado Sierra Club has, happily, chosen to recognize Drew Smith with its Chapter Volunteer Award for 2018 at a ceremony to be held on January 12th from 5 to 7 p.m. at The Alliance Center in Denver. Contratulations to Drew for this well-deserved recognition! We would not be the program we are without his significant contributions to ICO and the kids we serve. If you can, please join us on the 12th to honor Drew's contribution to our program.

Foul weather was no deterrent to fun for this group of kids. Despite temps in the 40s and increasingly wet weather, they fished the upper reaches of the Big Thompson River, played camouflage and hide and seek in Moraine Park, then watched elk and listened to them bugle at dusk. Although we had to pitch a tarp to stay dry, the kids kept going as long as the supply of hot chocolate, cider, toasted marshmallows and burritos held out. The only regret most of them expressed was that we weren't staying overnight. Next year we will.

read more about A Day in the Park (Rocky Mtn Natl Park, that is)

Trip Journal: Fishing on Boulder Creek

Thursday, September 27 2018

Great weather and the training that the kids have received in our after-school club payed off today with several of the kids catching fish on Boulder Creek. Thanks to Drew and Michael for pulling this one off. 

Trip Journal: SC @ Casey - Fishing

Thursday, September 13 2018

After a couple of weeks of honing our Tenkara skills, we got out on the water at Boulder Creek. It was a lovely warm fall day, the creek was flowing nicely, but the fish were laying low. Although there was a lot more fishing than catching, everyone learned a bit more about the art of fly fishing, and will be that much better at it on our next outing.

We got off to a wet start, greeted by a thunderstorm just as our cars pulled up to the Abyss Lake Trailhead. We waited out the storm by eating a lunch of falafel and pita bread, then saddled up and began the easy hike up to camp in cool pleasant hiking weather. This group of kids were strong hikers, and we made it to our forest campsite in little over an hour.

Our crew pitched their tents and began exploring, many choosing to wade or swim in a nearby beaver pond once the sun came out. Dinner was bean and cheese burritos. Our time around the campfire was cut short by a rainstorm at sunset, and we all scurried into our tents for the evening.

read more about Abyss Lake Beginner's Backpacking

Howlin' Good Time at Mission: Wolf

Monday, June 25 2018

Posted by Deb

What do you get when you mix 3 awesome kids, a bunch of wolves and wonderful staff and leaders? A howling good time at Mission: Wolf!

We had a wonderful tour, met, pet and received lots of "kisses" from the ambassador wolves at Mission: Wolf in Westcliffe, CO. We also helped move lots of dirt to support the beginnings of a new deck for the education center.

When we weren't at Mission: Wolf, the kids had a great time collecting artifacts in the National Forest and running through the woods playing wolfie games.

Thank you to BoulderICO leaders Sam Blankenship and Caroline Hogue for managing a great trip!

All in all a weekend to remember!

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Tabling in Longmont

Saturday, April 21 2018

Posted by Michael

Kudos to Joy Weigel and her husband, David, for helping to table Earth Day in Longmont. We had a surprising number of folks express interest in volunteering with us -- testament to the great vibe in Longmont that we've been hearing about. In a short chat with the mayor, we've flagged the need for a gear depot in Longmont. Things are moving ahead. 

It was SNOW fun!

Sunday, March 04 2018

Posted by Deb

We had a great time playing in the snow yesterday at Moffat Tunnel. We dug snow caves, had a loooong snowball fight and ate snow ice cream with hot chocolate. It was a balmy 57 degrees and everyone left soaking wet and happy!

Thanks to the wonderful recruiters Sandra, DT, Lee and Catherine - and also to volunteers that helped staff and drive to the outing, Sandra, DT, Grant and Drew.


After some on-again, off-again business with recruitment, we decided to give it a go just because the forecast was for outstanding snowshoeing conditions. And that they were. With only Ashley and Lukas filling out the junior ranks, everyone got plenty of time with a shovel, digging our mutli-person snowcave. 

Sierra Club @ Casey

Thursday, February 08 2018

Posted by Michael

Having been doing the ICO thing for a longish time, much of it can seem routine but I'm happy to report that something truly new and lovely is happening in the program. The after school club at Casey Middle School (that we're calling "Sierra Club @ Casey") is proving to be a real success and a lot of fun. We've enjoyed good rates of participation and repeat participation. Indeed, we had two new kids join us this week. And you will surely see many of these kids on our outings. Significantly, the atmosphere of these club meetings is really quite pleasant. We have a great group of attentive, disciplined, and respectful kids (of both genders) who are all there to learn. 

We also have a core group of volunteers who have been at the first two of these meetings: Drew, Bob, Deb, Michael, and myself. But, even if you aren't already a fly tier or an angler, please consider volunteering with us at these events. Learning to tie flies is not that difficult and you can take free classes at Rocky Mountain Anglers...

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Our first trip of the year was a success. We arrived at the Sourdough Trailhead near Beaver Reservoir in cloudy conditions with a bone-chilling wind coming off the Divide. It's been a low-snow year, so we quickly decided to leave the snowshoes behind and get ourselves into the forest and out of the wind. Despite a few drifts, the trail to Beaver Bog was mostly hardpacked and easy to walk. There were big snowdrifts in the bog, which was somewhat out of the wind, and the kids set to work piling up snow for a quinzhee while we melted snow for hot chocolate. The chocolate and the hard work of digging out the snow cave kept everyone warm. But the snow was dry and cold and did not consolidate quickly, and the quinzhee collapsed just as it was nearing completion. We refashioned it into a high-backed snow bench that blocked the wind while we had snacks and chocolate, but everyone was getting cold and we decided to cut the trip short and head back to the warmth of the cars. A short trip to the winter mountains, but a good one. Many thanks to our recruiters, and to volunteers Kate and Libby.

Brune's Article on his Mission: Wolf Outing with Boulder Valley ICO

Monday, October 16 2017

Posted by Michael

This last summer we led an outing to Mission: Wolf with Michael Brune, the Executive Director of the Sierra Club, and his family. This is report on the experience. Kudos to Deb, Caroline, and Katie for making this happen.


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It's a long drive to the Beartooth Wilderness but worth it every time. The beauty, the solitude, the fishing all seem to be without end in this wonderland of flowers and crystal clear lakes. This time, we even treated ourselves to a bit of time in a hotspring on the return trip. 

A glorious escape from the oppressive heat of the lowlands, our group went fishing, hiking to an alpine lake, and butt-sledding down alpine snowfields. We had a bear visit our camp (and sample some of our food) and saw ptarmigan on our dayhike to Upper Diamond Lake. The Antolins win the prize for the fastest ICO hikers ever; even with fully-loaded packs, they were up to the lake in less than time than most day-hikers require, leaving us with plenty of time to enjoy the scenery. Happily, Diamond Lake now seems to have a sizeable population of Cutthroat when in previous years Brook Trout were pretty much the only game in town. Thanks to Deb for organizing the trip and to Diane for helping with the food. Thanks also to Leslie, Laura, Hana, and Michael for filling out the ranks on this lovely jaunt to our local mountains.

Amazing day! Regardless of the cold weather and the rain; students had so much fun. Michael ran a great session on fly tying. Students were engaged.  The sun came out, and then we were able to try some Tenkara at the pond. Several students caught little fish and they were able to bring them home as evidence. We look forward to our next fishing adventure!

Introducing the New BVICO Gear Depot

Monday, March 06 2017

Posted by Michael

Thanks to the effort of many dedicated ICO volunteers, we have, in the span of two weekends, completely relocated our gear to Casey Middle School. The new space is heated, well-lit, has access to bathrooms, has meeting space, and provides a covered area to use when loading/unloading vehicles. With the help of District Superintendant, Dr. Messinger, and his staff, we turned lemons into lemonade, transforming displacement from Manhattan Middle School into a net gain for the program. We are also now located at a school that prioritizes the sort of opportunities that our program provides. It also happens to be the school in Boulder with the highest percentage of kids in our target demographic. Many thanks to Casey Principal, Justin McMillan, for welcoming us into the new space. Thanks, too, to Catherine Powers, our long-time recruiter at Casey, whose dogged work in support of our program paved the way for us to land gracefully in this new home.

The biggest single-day BVICO outing so far -- 51 people in all. And, amazingly, we made it back on time despite the crowds at the Bear Lake trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park. Thanks to Eric for snagging the ingredients for the ever-popular snow ice cream. Thanks to Kuba, Kate, and Eric for helping to manage the belly sledding mayhem. And thanks to Hana, Leslie, and Lukas for helping with other logistics. Thank, too, to the folks at Environment for the Americas for rounding up such a great crowd, handling transportation and food, and making sure that things moved along smoothly. 

Trip Journal: Spooky Night Hike!

Friday, October 21 2016

Warmish weather for this time of year, a surplus of hot chocolate, and some seriously spooky stories combined to make this trip a lot of fun. It's awfully fun when the kids go totally silent in suspense during the story telling, and then pretend they weren't scared as we talk on the way back to the trailhead. Thanks to Grant and Michael for the spooky stories. Drew, Carmen, and Guy shuttled our lucky group of thirteen. And thanks to Carmen and Hana for snagging the munchies. 

Special thanks to Jim Hoffmeyer for letting us use his land and fishing access on the Tarryall for this lovely car-camping outing. And thanks to Jim, too, for a fabulous cowboy breakfast cooked over campfire. Deb and Michael rangled the cats on this relaxed and easy weekend outing.

Trip Journal: Abyss Lake 2016

Monday, September 05 2016

We hiked the short distance to camp along Scott Gomer Creek through a mixed forest of lodgepole and aspen and set up camp under threatening skies.  We had enough time to fish a bit and enjoy a dinner of salmon fajitas and a dessert of campfire-toasted marshmallows before a cool rain set in, sending everyone to their tents.  The next morning's chill was dissipated a bit by a campfire and a breakfast of french toast croissants washed down with hot chocolate, and then we headed up to a meadow another mile up the trail.  We fished the beaver pond and creek with little success, but also enjoyed the meadow and its fall colors and basked in the warm sun and even took a few naps.

Several of the girls caught the fishing bug and soon mastered the use of their Tenkara rods.  Zoe got the prize for the biggest fish, a nice 14-inch cuttbow caught in the beaver ponds just above camp.  By dinner time, we had a nice mess of trout, which we roasted over the campfire and shared all around.  A few of the girls even braved the cold waters of the creek to take a brief swim and then dry off in the afternoon sun. Elsa and Marie also participated in our photography academy, taking some really great photos posted here.

read more about Abyss Lake 2016

Squirmaids! Sometimes, the simplest trips are just magic. Tonight's fly fishing outing was all magic, from Sam's postulations about fishing lures part squirrel, part memaid to the very real fish we caught, to the lovely sunset. You know the ICO thing is going well when the kids want to throw just one more cast... and another... and another... until it's too dark to see anything but the silhouette of the mountains. Our new, braided lines did great, allowing the kids to get the lines out far in targetted, graceful casts by the end of the evening. It's also worth noting that the strategy of keeping the group size down worked really well; the kids got all of the guidance they needed to learn quickly and without frustration.

Volunteer Training for Boulder Valley ICO

Wednesday, August 17 2016

Posted by Michael

Boulder Valley ICO is an all-volunteer outreach program of the Sierra Club that provides free nature outings and wilderness adventures to youth from under-served communities in Boulder County and beyond. We will offer a volunteer training retreat for new and existing volunteers on November 12th & 13th at Cal-Wood Educational Center near Jamestown, Colorado (about 50 minutes from Boulder). The curriculum includes Outdoor Leadership Training 101 & 201, plus Child Abuse Recognition and Prevention. Volunteers may stay overnight at Cal-Wood or commute. Training will take place between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day. See below for a course outline. This training satisfies all of the in-class training requirements (except first aid) for Sierra Club Outings Leader Certification. 

This course is intended to train new and existing volunteers with Boulder Valley ICO to organize and lead outings in our program. If space is available, we will accept individuals who attend with the purpose of...

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We had great weather, great scenery, and outrageously good fishing on this week-long adventure in Wyoming. Thanks to Carmen Kuri for making the trip possible and to Hana for helping with food preparation. 

Our spring trip to Mission: Wolf was a success. We got a bit of rain and snow on the evening of our arrival but the weather was great for our full day at the facility. We helped set up and level some planters, moved some rocks, and did some weeding. And, of course, we met the wolves and played games at the campsite. Thanks to Mari for driving, Brian for helping us manage the kids, and Michael for preparing the food. 

Despite the cold, wet weather, we had fun and planted lots of trees to help restore the riparian habitat. The kids worked really hard! Thanks to Mariko for preparing lunch and Joni for scoring the hot chocolate and cookies. Thanks, too, to Synergy and volunteers from Boulder Open Space, who organized and led the balance of the event. 

After a big snow Friday and continued snow in the morning, we called an audible and opted to go to nearby Flagstaff Mountain rather than make the drive to Indian Peaks Wilderness.  A foot of untracked snow greeted us on the Tenderfoot Trail, a 2.5 mile loop that starts and ends at Realization Point.  The heavy snow made for slow going, but mostly sunny skies and calm winds made the walking comfortable.  We stopped for snacks on the Divide Overlook, and melted snow for hot chocolate and cookies.  After a quick snowball fight, we headed back up the west side of Flagstaff to the parking lot to end an excellent outing.

Trip Journal: Fly Tying Workshop (MS テ)

Saturday, February 13 2016

With some power recruiting by Patrick Eichelmann, this event was well attended. We learne to tie the Blue Poison Tung and the Ray Charles. We also got a demo of the vise-free kebari that we'll tie as a group next time.  

The inaugural event in our tenkara academy went extremely well. With expert instructors from Rocky Mountain Anglers and CU, the kids had no trouble learning how to make the San Juan worm and the sakasa kebari. Thanks is also due to the ICO volunteers who were students of fly tying, themselves, but who helped the kids sitting next to them work through the tricky spots in each of the patterns. It was great to see the kids get so excited about tying and fishing. The tenkara academy is off to a great start!

We had a full crew of 16 kids from Casey and Columbine who turned out for a day of snow play.  There was a bit of a breeze, but the weather was mostly sunny and fine.  We took the Sourdough Trail south for a mile and set up at Beaver Bog.  Backward snowshoe races were followed by a mighty effort at building a quinzhee while we melted snow for hot chocolate.  We ran out of time and had to return through snow flurries before we could complete the snow hut - maybe we can continue the work on our next outing!

Outdoor Leadership Training

Tuesday, December 08 2015

Posted by Michael

Great company, a great cabin, and great food made for a great time at the Outdoor Leadership Training (OLT 101 & 201) for local and ICO outings leaders.  Thanks to Chris, Michael, and Hana for logistics, content, and food. We're hoping to run another such training in the spring. Stay tuned.

Here's our library of photos:


Wyoming- We enjoyed perfect fall weather, a bright moonlit night and large burritos on our overnight mountain biking trip in Curt Gowdy State Park, Wyoming.  16 youth kept the 6 adults (including ICO volunteers Carmen, Dave and Erik) on their toes.  After a warmup ride on the mostly level Shoreline trail, the kids (perhaps unwisely) followed Dave up and down the challenging Granite Ridge trail.  There were no complaints, but several requests to do a less technical trail the next day, when we swaped technical for a big climb up the smooth Stone Temple Circuit.  Erik led a campfire discussion of the concepts of preservation and conservation, and the many of the kids revealed that they would like to preserve places like this for future generations.

Trip Journal: Fall colors dayhike

Saturday, September 19 2015

Golden Gate- After a late start due to missing p-slips, we headed up to Golden Gate Canyon State Park on a beautiful fall day.  Our intrepid crew became obsessed with finding the perfect hiking stick, and scoured the forest for them on our 2-mile hike up the Horseshoe Trail to Frazer Meadows.  Once there, we inspected the old cabin, had lunch, played a game of camoflage out in the meadow, found old ranch machinery, climbed rock outcroppings and in general enjoyed a classic fall day in the Colorado mountains.

The boys keep a sharp lookout from a strategic vantage point

Bonny the pack dog invites herself to lunch

read more about Fall colors dayhike

Trip Journal: Abyss Lake Backpacking

Monday, September 07 2015

We had a full crew of 8 intrepid hikers, many of them first-time backpackers, for our expedition into the Mt Evans Wilderness.  We hiked a couple of miles in pleasant weather up the Abyss Lake Trail until we came to our creekside campsite, at about 10,000 feet of elevation.  We got our tents pitched just in time to stay dry through an afternoon thunderstorm, then the campers fanned out through the forest to gather wood for our campfire.

A hearty meal of mac and cheese was followed by Smores for dessert.

After a breakfast of French Toast, we hiked up the valley through beautiful Aspen forests just beginning to turn from green to gold, crossing the creek in several places.  We came to a beaver pond surrounded by a marshy meadow, and got out our fly rods and began to fish.  Although the fishing was slow, the hikers discovered that there was plenty of fun to be had by taking off their shoes and sinking into the mud up to their knees.

An appetizer of freshly-grilled trout was followed by a dinner of red beans, rice and sausage

read more about Abyss Lake Backpacking

Eastern Colorado- We set out early on a sunny Saturday morning to explore one of Colorado's most interesting but least appreciated ecosystems - the shortgrass prairie.  Located about 40 miles east of Ft Collins, the Pawnee National Grasslands are a land of grass and sky, home to pronghorns, coyotes, migrating birds, 1 or 2 grasshoppers - and for this weekend, 11 campers from Casey Middle School and Creekside Elementary.  

We drove the backroads to our campsite near some prairie potholes, and the campers spilled out on to the prairie to examine some of the smallest inhabitants





The next task was

read more about Pawnee Grasslands overnight

Utah- The day of the trip started off wet in Boulder while a snowstorm raged in the foothills, closing I-70 and threatening to block our path to Utah.  Determined to find sunshine, we took the long route via Fairplay, Gunnison, Montrose, and little-known hamlets like Naturita, CO. 

Lovely weather made for a nice day of snowcave construction and snowball fights. The snowcave we built eventually became a snow-tunnel through which could crawl or slide. Thanks to Dave and Andrea for pinch-hitting on the driving. 

Trip Journal: Snowshoe Adventure

Saturday, January 31 2015

We had good weather (ie, no wind), and most importantly a great group of kids on this trip.  We snowshoed up and over a small hill about 1 mile to Beaver Bog in no time at all, and everyone had plenty of energy left for backward snowshoe races.


Ethan figured out that "don't fall down" is a better strategy than "go as fast as you can" and won handily.

The crew then turned their attention to building a quinzhee big enough for everyone to enjoy their snow ice cream together

read more about Snowshoe Adventure

We had rain but we had even more fun. The leaves were amazing and the crew even better. Thanks to Andrea and Brad for joining us and to Hana for helping us prepare the food.



It was quite an adventerous trip for several first-time backpackers.  We climbed over 2500 feet and hiked up Eccles pass twice (from both directions). We experienced rain, sun, glorious widflowers, and mosquitoes. We started a campfire in the rain and made s'mores!  If a trip like this doesn't hook kids on hiking and backpacking, I don't know what will.  Thanks to our great volunteers, Brian, Katie, and Allen, for making this trip go so well.

Participant Thanks

Tuesday, June 17 2014

Posted by Michael

Unsolicited thanks from some of our program participants. :-)

Organizational Name Change

Wednesday, June 11 2014

Posted by Michael

Our national directorate has been kicking around a change to the name of the organization, realizing that it has been a long time since our program has just served denizens of the inner city. There was very little consensus among the various ICO groups on what name would serve us best or, even, the key characteristics of a suitable name. The result of the national directorate's survey yielded a winner that will now become the official national name for the program: Inspiring Connections Outdoors. But... they were also at pains to explain that individual groups have the discretion to name themselves as they please. This approach leaves our group with a decision: to embrace the new national name or fashion a different name for our group. Stay tuned for more on this subject in the coming months. Mercifully, we have nothing compelling an immediate response to the national name change, so we can take the time to make a decision that will serve us best in the long-run.

Bird Safari at Walden Ponds

Sunday, May 11 2014

Posted by Michael

Our bird safari to Walden Ponds with kids from Creekside and Pioneer Elementary Schools was a success. We had good attendance by both kids and birds. We saw some cool migrants, like the white-faced ibis, and some interesting locals, like a baby osprey. Thanks to Mary Claire for organizing this one, and thanks to Andrea, Caroline, Hana, Ira and Michael for helping out on the trail as well as with driving.

Deb Rudy (Harrisburg ICO) Gets Profiled

Thursday, April 24 2014

Posted by Michael

The Sierra Club is making strides in recognizing the value of the Inner City Outings program. Former Chair of the ICO National Steering Committee is recognized in the current edition of The Planet, the Club's online newsletter. It's worth a quick visit to see what a life in ICO looks like. Click here for the article.