The annual Chief Mountain hike is a Graland tradition that provides third graders with a good physical challenge and allows them to observe in nature the various life zones and ecosystems that they studied in class. As importantly, it is an opportunity for students to work together and support each other in achieving their common goal to summit the mountain. It is a three mile round-trip hike.
With plenty of adults on hand, hikers ascended approximately 1,000 feet to the top of Chief Mountain. Along the way, they stopped to notice changes in foliage as they passed through different life zones like montane, subalpine and alpine. At 11,709 feet, the summit offered stunning views of the area and rocky terrain to explore. Hikers enjoyed a sack lunch, wrote or drew in their notebooks, and listened to a book read by teachers before descending back down the mountain with their lungs full of fresh air.
“I like being outside with my friends and I really liked the view,” commented Esme Steuer. Her friend, Emi Harrington, added, “It was very tiring on the way up but I liked having lunch at the top.”
Other hikers, seeing dozens of children on the trail, stopped to comment about the value of this kind of outdoor education. “It’s wonderful to see kids outside and enjoying themselves. I wish I would have taken field trips like this when I was in school,” said one.
Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.