Living Arrangements
Cuchara, Colorado


During the Colorado portion of advanced tectonics, students will live in condominium units in Cuchara. Living conditions require that all students conduct their behavior in a way that contributes to positive morale for the entire group. The actions of each individual impact on the living environment for others. Various living and working conditions and "rules" of conduct are described below.

Left: the primary residence is the Sun Mountain condominium (end unit). The elevation of this site is ~9000 feet (2745 m). Right: winter view of South White Peak seen from the Sun Mountain condominium.

Condo Equipment

The condominium is equiped with washer/drier for laundry. The kitchen includes range/oven, mircowave oven, coffee maker, and all necessary utensils. Refrigerator space is limited and is reserved for group food and beverages. Internet is available as well as television with DVD/VCR.

Some students may share a queen-sized bed; other students may sleep on single beds or individual cots. Men and women will have separate sleeping rooms. Bathrooms are likewise shared with 3-4 students per bathroom. Students should bring their own toilet kits. Bedding and towels are provided.

Telephones and Internet

A land-line telephone is available with DSL Internet service. Students are advised to bring their own laptop computer equiped with a wireless card. Students who wish to phone home frequently should bring personal cell phones. Operation of cell phones in montane terrain, however, is unpredictable and unreliable for certain service providers.

Food and Eating

Students will eat together for breakfast and dinner; lunch will be in the field. Each day, one team will be assigned to prepare food and clean up the kitchen for breakfast and dinner. Students will prepare lunches individually. We will eat a common menu; anyone with dietary restrictions should inform the instructor beforehand. All meals and snacks shall be eaten in the kitchen/dining room area or outdoors (on porch); no food is to be taken into other rooms.

Rules of the house

High-altitude effects

We will stay at 9000 feet and work at altitudes ranging from 7000 to >11,000 feet. All "lowland" individuals experience the effects of thin air at these elevations. Physical exhaustion, rapid heart beat, and shortness of breath are common reactions. Additional symptoms include head and ear aches, dizziness, and nose bleeds. Students are urged to begin an exercise regime of walking, jogging, swimming, or bicycling.

Solar radiation is intense at high altitude, and severe sun burning can occur quickly. In addition, southern Colorado is semiarid, and the dry air may induce skin, nose and eye irritations as well as lead to rapid dehydration. Sun glasses, a broad-brimmed hat, sun screen, skin lotion, and a water bottle are essential.

What to bring

Bear country

Black bears are common in the San Isabel National Forest, including the Cuchara vicinity. Fur color varies from pure black, to brown, to light reddish tan (cinnamon). Always remain with your group or partner; never go out on your own. Bears normally ignore or move away from an approaching human disturbance.

Left: mature bear wandering through the Sun Mountain commons area. Note distinctive brown and black coloration. Right: bear claw marks about 5 feet high on an aspen; black bears can climb trees easily and quickly.
Junvenile black bear (brown color) seen in the Sun Mountain commons area. Left: view from back porch of condo unit. Right: fresh footprint (from same junvenile bear) is about 5 inches wide.

Some bears, however, have come to depend on garbage where people live, including the Cuchara vicinity. These bears have little fear of humans. Do not under any circumstances attempt to feed bears. If you encounter a bear, do not try to run away. This will only excite the bear. Likewise do not play dead. Black bears will attack a dead body as readily as a live one. Slowly back away while facing the bear, but avoid eye-to-eye contact. If the bear attacks, fight back by hitting the bear's nose and eyes. Roll into a ball and turn your back to the bear in order to protect your vital organs, and yell for help.

Travel in state vehicles

University vehicles are considered "part of ESU" and as such all regulations and rules on campus also apply to vehicles when traveling out of state. This includes our field vehicles and trailer. The following materials and substances are prohibited—alcohol, illegal drugs, firearms, fireworks, any kind of weapon, or hazardous materials. Use of tobacco is not allowed in university vehicles. By extension these same rules apply to the condominium. All students are expected to conduct themselves in an exemplary manner at all times during the field trip.

Return to advanced tectonics syllabus.
ES 767 © J.S. Aber (2013).