How long have you been volunteering for Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP)?

Eight years in various roles: trail guide, host at Chautauqua, working at Meadow Music, assisting Alzheimer Association hikes, and serving as a Volunteer Naturalist, leading hikes for groups of young people and adults, plus presenting indoor programs in local grade schools.

What do you like about volunteering for OSMP?

First of all, I love seeing how much people enjoy being out on the trails of OSMP. The environment seems to make them happy. Another plus is that as a volunteer I received exciting training about the unique topography and plants and animals of OSMP. Did you know that the Boulder foothills are closer to the Continental Divide than any other areas along the Front Range of Colorado? This is what creates our beautiful "cloud valleys."

What’s your favorite thing to do on open space? Where?

It all depends on the weather. Climbing Green Mountain or hiking the Mesa Trail are favorites of mine. A short little trail, Towhee, is also great because it's a wildlife area (no pets, please), set aside for the birds and animals that use the stream and shrubs for protection and food.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned about open space since you started?

The variety that’s available on the 45,000 acres. Everything from ancient geology and seabed floor, in Boulder Valley to magnificent South Boulder Peak.

What’s the most frequently asked question that you get/or what do you help people with the most?

Depending on where I am, either wayfinding or “what are they looking at.” Why these gorgeous flowers are right here, what are they, or the name of a bird.

I frequently hear “What a gorgeous day” no matter what the weather is, people are so happy to be out.

Any favorite stories/encounters from when you were “on duty?”

I remember hiking on a narrow trail through the fog, and came across a couple, and we all agreed it was magical, and we realized we were whispering to each other!

A lot of times I'll see wildlife like deer or our local Abert's squirrels, and visitors will come by and stop and observe with me. At rare times I've been lucky to share a bear sighting with visitors.

I have so many fond memories, it’s a joy for me to be out.

Photo: OSMP volunteer Janie Stuart with long-time Boulder hikers John and Helen Whitbeck and Kyle Whitbeck.