Spent time in beautiful Aspen, CO this weekend. The quick 3 hour drive from Denver is totally worth it as each minute is spent traveling through changing landscapes and boundless views of incredible nature. As I made the decent through Independence Pass into the valley where Aspen lies, I was reminded of the beauty that this wonderful place holds. The magnificent groves of Aspen trees – which gave the place it’s name – stretched out far and wide, covering the mountain sides with their long white trunks and fragile green leaves. I love the way that they shake and shimmy in the wind like jazz hands.
After spending some time in the town, I made my way down to the Roaring Fork River that splits the valley in two. There I found ACES, Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. Here’s an excerpt from the ACES website which describes their mission.
Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) is a non-profit environmental science education center with four sites in the Roaring Fork Valley. ACES provides programs in environmental science and ecological literacy for everyone from school children, to leaders and decision makers, working to build a community of knowledgeable, motivated and capable environmental stewards.
Here at ACES, we believe that protecting the people of our planet means protecting the natural environment. To achieve this lofty endeavor, we need more science education and we must bridge the unfortunate political divide that exists around “environmentalism.” It requires a new vernacular for the environmental movement which includes diversity, humility, social justice, innovation, and yes—tribal symbiosis.
This “oasis”, as I like to call it, was truly special. A protected piece of land that holds animals such as Golden Eagles, Great Horned Owls, Red Tailed Hawks, Bearded Dragons, Tarantulas, Pythons, Deer, Moose, Bears, Fish, Birds, and more!
Some of the animals such as the Golden Eagle were injured in nature and brought back to ACES for rehabilitation. This particular Golden Eagle is 37 years old! For reference, the longest living Golden Eagle in captivity is 40 years old. After a life threatening injury to both wings, the Golden Eagle was found on Aspen Mountain struggling for her life. They knew she was injured badly because she allowed their rescue team to pick her up and help her down the mountain. She was in such bad shape that she had maggots growing in her wounds. ACES has helped her back to good health and their plan is to eventually reintroduce her into the wild one day. Here’s a video of her taking a bath.
DISCLAIMER: This video was taken before we knew about her injuries, and how ACES was helping rehabilitate her so don’t mind the audio. She’s a powerful creature that is used to flying free, so it’s no wonder that she doesn’t like the straps on her legs.
After hiking through the land for a while, I sat down to relax and listen. I found a place to set up my recorder where it most accurately captured the essence of the environment. Here’s what I heard.