The Mountains Do Not Care! So reads the warning as the Tonahutu Trail leaves the subalpine and winds its way toward the alpine tundra. A bit impersonal but we get the message. There are consequences if we underestimate the effect of altitude, distance, darkening skies, thunder, or the possibility of storms and lightning. The mountains do not care if we experience unpleasant consequences, but this doesn’t mean that they are angry with us or that blue skies and clear sailing suggest their favor.
Like the mountains, nature makes no judgments. Lightning, floods, and hurricanes make no judgments about good or bad before striking. They are simply natural consequences occasioned by the systems in which they exist.
When the neighborhood cat pounces for the bird at our feeder or a mountain lion leaps toward a young deer, nature is making no judgment about these behaviors. These are simply the natural behaviors of predator and prey.
When pine beetles began attacking our lodge poles back in 2003, we were certain we must act quickly to save our trees from this aggressive predator. But we learned that pine beetles are native to pine forests and were just being pine beetles. Nature was just responding to the conditions of the forest: drought, a monoculture of same aged lodge poles, and lack of fire –conditions which, together, provided the food supply for a growing population of beetles. We learned to be sad for the loss of the trees without judging the actions of the native pine beetles as either bad or good. It was simply a natural consequence.
Within nature, species express preferences for sunlight, water, nutrient, habitat. Some species behave more reflexively and more developed species even make cognitive choices.
As often as I have shared my thoughts about nature’s laws or operating principles, I have never quite found a way to share how this one might work for people: nature makes no judgments. At some level we recognize the differences in opinions, preferences, choices and “judgments,” although we often use the words interchangeably. When pushed for distinction, we tend to reserve “judgment” to mean something that is good or bad, or perhaps right or wrong. In human societies we have created human-made laws intended to reflect what our society regards as right or wrong. As our populations increase, certain basic laws seem necessary to our species’ survival while others simply express our cultural preferences. There is a distinction. Judgment about right and wrong is far different than our expressions of cultural preferences.
We humans tend to express our preferred beliefs by creating religions, political parties, clubs, sports teams, and a myriad of institutions, each of which tend to push us into right and wrong judgments about our own behavior and that of others. All too easily, we then separate ourselves from others based on the beliefs of one or more of our chosen group’s values about “right and wrong”.
Nature’s laws teach us about consequences, but place no value such as right or wrong on those consequences. They simply “are.” I believe as cognitive creatures of nature, we naturally express our preferences, but perhaps nature’s guidance is to at least recognize the difference between personal or group preferences and judgments which proclaim the absolute “rightness” of one individual or group’s preferences over another. Ultimately, of course, nature is not bound by our human laws or preferences and it is the interconnectedness of all creatures and natural systems that determine the consequences to all life on this planet.
–Robert J. Mann, tireless advocate and board member of Shadowcliff
“ . . . discover once again what it means to be a person . . . To offer persons seeking a renewal of spirit, the sacred atmosphere of this quiet retreat . . . To find in this sanctuary of the Rockies a new rhythm of life- the rhythm that nature herself enjoins us to rediscover and restore to our own being.”
– Warren Rempel, musings on the reasons for founding Shadowcliff
There has always been a need for places that provide connection. From churches to festivals to favorite campsites, we gather with friends and family in various places in a shared rhythm. Day after day. Week after week. Month after month. Year after year. We are drawn to these spaces to connect with one another, seeking common occurrence and a familiar frame of reference. In these spaces we remember ourselves, defined by those around us and the deep, unspoken tie of a shared experience.
When times are good, these places and the people within them highlight our joys. They help us celebrate and share in the happiness. Sometimes these places are the very embodiment of good times, and that is the reason we join in them. It is important to find community when times are good; it codifies that the good does exist and deepens the experience. Almost more important is what’s hidden within the lines of how we treat each other when times are good: the basis for how we must hold each other when times are trying. That is the quiet strength of community.
At Shadowcliff, community and a sense of place have always been at our core. From the hundreds of international volunteers who loving brought the physical spaces of Shadowcliff to life and continue to maintain them, to the thousands of guests who have stayed within those ardently built walls, to the amazing staff who have shared in the “divine madness,” each step of the way has been fueled by the desire to provide a place to retreat and connect without judgement.
We have one most cherished belief at Shadowcliff: when people are given time and space to connect with their own thoughts, each other, and nature, the world can be a better place. We do not seek to change worldviews, only to supply a space for reflection and dialogue where that is often the natural outcome. Places like this are hard to find. While we can generally find places that surround us with the familiar, it is harder to find places of solace where we then become open to the views and thoughts of others. And it is only when we can hear each other that we can stand united.
Look around you. Times are trying. No matter your political or religious views, anxiety and anger abound. It is now that we must shine a light on the most important aspects of community and hold each other with love, even when we do not understand one another. It is now that seeking out and supporting places of peace, places that encourage dialogue, places like Shadowcliff, becomes an act of solidarity.
Perhaps Edward Abbey put it best in this reflective passage, written about a moment in time he came face to face with a mountain lion (emphasis added by me, because):
“I haven’t seen a mountain lion since that evening, but the experience remains shining in my memory. I want my children to have the opportunity for that kind of experience. I want my friends to have it. I even want our enemies to have it- they need it most. And someday, possibly, one of our children’s children will discover how to get close enough to that mountain lion to share paws with it, to embrace and caress it, maybe even teach it something, and to learn what the lion has to teach us.”
– The Journey Home: Some Words in Defense of the American West, page 238
May the peace and reflection you find at Shadowcliff fill your hearts in the days to come,
Please join in our annual appeal with a cash donation.
As a tax exempt 501c3 organization, 100% of your donation is tax deductible.
As the cool air sweeps down the mountains and onto the plains, and the leaves fall gently to earth, the year draws to a close. We are thankful for much at Shadowcliff in 2015. Each one of you helped to make this year a success. From the warm smiles of first time guests and the hugs of our returning friends, to the donations of time, talent, and legal tender, your support propelled us forward through a year of change. Read one for more details or click here to make your annual contribution now.
We established a new leadership model in which our off-site Executive Director, Hillary Mizia, focused on building long-term organizational success while our on-site General Manager, Karen Bellina, ran the in-season daily operations. In years past the Executive Director lived on-site and was deeply involved in the daily operations; this new model focuses on the health of Shadowcliff as a mission-based organization, not solely as a destination.
We furthered the work of our mission to collectively create a climate for a restorative world by exploring new partnerships with a number of organizations and key leaders throughout Grand County and the Front Range. These new connections are forging wonderful partnerships and leading to a positive impact on our local and regional community.
We continued the legacy of connection at Shadowcliff by welcoming 75 volunteers in May, many wonderful new friends and several dedicated returning friends. Our amazing seasonal staff was full of familiar faces- a rarity in seasonal employment- and saw the addition of some great new folks.
Many of you gave us open honest feedback this season. Your desires for improved sleep quality, upkeep to our buildings that enhances the rustic charm, and continuing the warm, personal approach that includes affordable prices, have helped us to shape our plans for 2016. We will be:
Your gift of financial support will help us carry out these actions and more. As a 501c3 organization, your contribution is completely tax deductible. A gift of at least $100 affords you the Friends of Shadowcliff status, providing you the very first opportunity to make reservations for the 2016 season! Whether made in smaller monthly donations or in one gift, we appreciate your generosity.
From donation amounts that bring your early booking privileges to car donations to supporting our programs as a sponsor, underwriter, or with a scholarship, we have a range of choices for you. Learn more here.
You are each vitally important to Shadowcliff, a special place sustained by its relationship with a caring and committed group of friends. With warm regards,
Lance Woodbury, Board President
By Jay Liebenguth
Hillary Mizia, has been on the job as Shadowcliff’s Executive Director since last Fall. In fact, her initiation was the November Board Meeting. Thankfully her Quaker background makes her a self-professed ‘committee geek.’
by Hillary Mizia
by Rick Robson
At Shadowcliff, it’s easy to track our annual efforts on facilities. Closing through the winter months provides a hard break in activity and the time to plan for the next year.
By Carl Sniffen
Happy Holidays from Shadowcliff. Without volunteers, Shadowcliff would not exist. I’ve said that many times in the past, and I hope that I’ll be saying it for decades to come. To borrow loosely from Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol,” let’s take a look at Shadowcliff volunteers past, present and future.
Shadowcliff Announces the Bob Mann and Judith Christy Laws of Nature Interpretative Trail Dedication Ceremony May 31st
(Grand Lake, CO) – Shadowcliff Mountain Lodge, an eco-friendly mountain sanctuary that has been serving Grand Lake visitors for over 30 years, will be hosting a Dedication Ceremony of The Bob Mann and Judith Christy Laws of Nature Interpretative Trail on Saturday May 31st from 2:00-5:00 p.m. The general public is welcome. Please RSVP at 970-627-9220.
During their tenure at Shadowcliff, from 2001-2011, Bob and Judith served as co-directors of the lodge and began organizing and hosting cutting-edge sustainability workshops. What brought businesses and governments to the workshops was the notion that by seeking sustainable, resilient solutions, organizations could modify business practices in a way that would be beneficial to people and the planet while at the same time creating opportunities to bolster the organization’s bottom line. In other words, organizations learned how to adopt sustainable and resilient business practices that have postive impacts on people, the planet and profit.
“Bob and Judith have been an integral part of the Shadowcliff story. Their leadership has inspired countless individuals and organizational leaders to create positive, sustainable change. The installation of the Laws of Nature Trail is one way for us to honor and ensure their legacy lives on.” Lance Woodbury, Shadowcliff Board President.
The dedication will be at Shadowcliff Mountain Lodge, 405 Summerland Park Road (Grand County Road 663) in Grand Lake with celebrations to begin with a formal trail dedication ceremony at 2:30 p.m. A reception will with light refreshments follow in the Remple Lodge. Guided tours of the Laws of Nature Interpretative Trail will be provided from 3:00-5:00 p.m. RSVP is required please call (970-627-9220 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register for the festivities.
Shadowcliff is a not-for-profit organization with a mission to be, An eco-friendly mountain sanctuary where together we are creating a climate for a restorative world. As a sanctuary, Shadowcliff provides a safe place for personal and community retreat and renewal. Shadowcliff visitors are educated about sustainability and encouraged to reconnect with the natural world. Educational opportunities are provided to all of guests and especially through groups and workshop experiences, many of which are conducted by Shadowcliff faculty. To learn more visit shadowcliff.org or call 970-627-9220.
SHADOWCLIFF, GRAND LAKE, COLORADO
JUNE 21–26, 2014
A fun filled eco-vacation designed as an intergenerational opportunity to learn and play together with the backdrop of Rocky Mountain National Park, the town and waters of Grand Lake and the fifty year history of Shadowcliff Lodge. Leaders include professional educators, park rangers, naturalists and experienced retreat coordinators who love sharing this beautiful natural setting with others. Program geared to age 7 through elders with hikes of no more than 2 miles.
Costs: All-inclusive meals, 5 nights lodging and activities (except optional ones) for $ 1500 for the first three people in a room. Special Early Bird registration of $1350 by February 1, 2014. Each additional person in a room $300.
Contact: email@example.com or 970-627-9220
Saturday June 21, 2014
3:00-5:00 Check-in and registration
5:00-6:00 Informal reception and introductions
6:00-7:00 Evening meal
7:15-8:15 Eco Get acquainted Game
Sunday June 22, 2014
7:30-8:30 Breakfast buffet
9:00-10:00 When A Butterfly Sneezes (exploring connections game)
10:15-11:30 From Tree to Tree –learning from the green giants
2:00-4:00 Hike with Rocky Mountain National Park Ranger
6:00-7:00 Evening Meal
7:30-9:00 Astronomy 101 (inside and outside) Sam Crane, Seasonal Ranger Rocky Mountain National Park
10:00 Quiet Time
Monday June 23, 2014
7:30-8:30 Breakfast buffet
9:00-10:00 Doc Wild’s Unhuggables—Dennis Olson, naturalist (Critterman)
10: 15-11 :30 Doc Wild’s Antler’s Antics-deer, elk and moose- Dennis Olson
1:30-3:00 Being a Nature Detective-Dennis Olson
7:15 Bowling Tournament (optional) Non-bowlers Movie on site
10:00 Quiet Time
Tuesday June 24, 2014
7:00 As A Crow Flies ( an interpretive bird hike) – Jeff Maugans. Interpretive Naturalist
9:00-10:00 Breakfast Buffet
11:00-12:15 Boat Tour on Grand Lake (Headwaters of the Colorado)-Jane Tollett, Guide, Executive Director of Grand County water Information Network
1:45-3:30 Jeff Maugans ?????
3:30-6:00 Free time (opportunities include hikes, Alpine Water Slide, Hot Sulphur Springs, go-carts,
kayaks, Canoes, horseback rides and more
6:00-7:00 Evening Meal
7:00- 9:00 Spirit of the Rockies –Rocky Mountain National Park movie (on site)
10:00 Quiet Time
Wednesday June 25, 2014
7:30-8:00 Breakfast Buffet
8:30-11:00 Fly Fishing Lessons for adults and youth- Stefan Lee, Instructor, gear provided by JAX Gear, Fort Collins
1:15- 3:30 Making Earth Flags-a tie dye experience
6:00-7:00 Evening Meal
7:15-8:30 Campfire Songs and S’mores
10:00 Quiet Time
Thursday June 26, 2014
7:30-8:30 Breakfast Buffet
PARTIAL BIOGRAPGHY OF FACULTY
Rocky Mountain Nature Association
RMNA is a not for profit association that has provided exciting, in depth educational field-based learning experiences in Rocky Mountain National Park for more than 51 years!. RMNA is proud to partner with Shadowcliff in offering a great intergenerational eco-vacation in our great national park.
Dennis Olson, Biologist and Geologist
Dennis Olson’s formal training as a biologist and geologist, as well as teaching nature for over 20 years in the north woods and mountain west, has given him expertise in many disciplines. Denny has trained thousands of naturalists, teachers and students in acting and storytelling techniques, designed practical instructional evaluations, lectured on Native American storytelling as a teaching tool, and conducted workshops nation-wide. He has performed his humorous alter-egos (Doc Wild’s Unhuggables, Wolfman, The Grizz, Dr. Death, Prof. Avian Guano, Dr. Loonacy, The Lost Voyageur, The Mad Herbalist) over 3000 times in 49 states for over 2 million people. Included in these totals are over 80 conference keynotes, 50+ national park presentations, and 30+ universities.
Jeff Maugams, Interpretive Naturalist.
Jeff worked as an interpretive naturalist for the National Park Service from 1977 to 2009 with a special interest in birds. He has a degree in outdoor education and natural science from Pennsylvania State University. Jeff started in RMNP in 1990, and has also worked in mammoth Cave National Park, Hatteras National Seashore, Edison National Historic Site, Gateway National Park, Redwood National Park and Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Sam Crane, Seasonal Park Ranger, RMNP. High School Science Teacher
Sam has been teaching science in Colorado for more than 24 years and has been a seasonal park ranger in Rocky Mountain National Park for even more years!. Sam teaches astronomy one night each week in Rocky Mountain National Park which has become one of the most well known and well attended ranger led interpretive sessions in RMNP. Sam has a bachelor of science from SUNY College Of Environmental Science and Forestry, and a Masters of Science from Mississippi State University (geoscience).
Robert J. “Bob” Mann, Shadowcliff Associates Sustainability Consultant and Trainer
Bob practiced law for twenty-five years, founded Bridging The Gap, Inc., the mid-west’s largest environmental education organization in Kansas City and with his wife served as Co-director of Shadowcliff from 2001-2012. Bob has facilitated more than fifty environmental and planning workshops including participants of all ages and levels of experience .Bob brings people together and helps all of us see the importance of the natural world in our daily lives.
Judith Christy, Compassionate Kitche
Judith F. Christy As a former co-director, Judith brings a wealth of Shadowcliff history and expertise to the Board and staff. She has played a key role in developing Shadowcliff’s food philosophy and Compassionate Kitchen and continues to provide guidance in many Shadowcliff operational issues. Judith is a Master Gardener who created Kansas City’s Children’s Gardening Museum with Greater Kansas City Community Gardens. She brings her gentle love and knowledge of fauna and flower to this workshop experience.
Stefan Lee, Fly Fishing
Stefan is our fly fishing guide from Fort Collins, Colorado. He works with Jax Outdoor Gear, naturally in the fishing department and has led fishing trips in the mountains and has a special interest in teaching young people as he has an 8 year old who follows in his Dad’s foot steps. Jax is providing most of the fishing equipment we will be using in the fishing experience.
Jane Tollett, Grand County Water Information Network
Jane is the Executive Director of Grand County Water Information Network, a not for profit organization whose mission is to provide accurate and current information on water quality and issues related to Grand County’s watersheds. Jane spent many years as an engineer and brings both knowledge and passion to her work for water conservation and quality
Shadowcliff is a nonprofit organization. Our mission: Shadowcliff is an eco-friendly mountain sanctuary where together we are creating a climate for a restorative world. We work hard to meet our mission in virtually everything we do: workshops, our compassionate kitchen, hosting educational groups, and providing educational information and materials to all of our guests. We try to talk the talk and walk the walk by minimizing our footprint however and whenever we can, by reusing, recycling and making the best decisions we can when it comes to purchasing supplies and equipment. We owe this to our future generations.
Shadowcliff was built by volunteers and sustained over the years by volunteers and generous donors. The spirit of volunteerism is alive and well at Shadowcliff. This occurs not only through the many volunteers who provide valuable time and service to Shadowcliff but our staff continue to volunteer in many ways in and around Grand County and their home locations. As a nonprofit, Shadowcliff remains dependent upon the generosity and support of our volunteers and donors. That isn’t going to change.
We are currently recruting volunteers and staff for the last few weeks of our season. Come join us: work for us and play with us. It’s the best time of the year to visit. If you are interested, contact firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
Here are some of the many other ways that you can help us:
I’m a mom, a lawyer, a professor. My children are...
The Mountains Do Not Care! So reads the warning as...
Photo from The Marmot Recovery Foundation. The...
Shadowcliff is a seasonal nonprofit lodge and educational...