It is a brisk morning on Uncompahgre Peak, as I sip my green tea while waiting for the arrival of our volunteers. With such a short season it is difficult to grasp that we are already halfway through. Looking back on all the Adopt-a-Peak volunteer groups and the work we put in is a great accomplishment; no doubt will I continue to be impressed as the season fizzles on. Getting the chance to meet all of these individuals, hikers and volunteers alike, who are so enthralled and compassionate about the work CFI does, is rejuvenating. The appreciation engulfs the spirit.

It is difficult to explain exactly what we do because each aspect of our work is drastically unique. As Muir put it, when one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. With such high volumes of users on these trails there needs to be an equilibrium reached in order to keep them sustainable and accessible. Wilderness is a necessity and that is where CFI comes in. We help balance the use of these spectacular peaks to create a safe haven for humans, wildlife and the delicate alpine environment. We have the ability to enlighten someone’s day by simply pointing out Monkshood on the side of a trail or explaining the inner workings of a check step.

We live up on these peaks. We hike miles to go to work. We sleep in tents and don’t shower for days at a time. A typical day most would consider strenuous, but rewarding is the only thing that comes to my mind. We break clear away from structured lives to keep close to nature’s heart. We climb mountains and spend our summer entwined in the woods. We are stewards of the land in which we set aside for wilderness. A duty bestowed upon us to protect and preserve the natural integrity of Colorado’s 14,000 foot peaks. Well, the mountains are calling, so I must go…

Jessica Wagner

Jessica is CFI’s Outdoor Leadership Intern this summer. She studies Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration with a minor in Natural Resources Conservation and Sociology at Western Illinois University. She is originally from the Chicago area.