Spent the better part of the week up in Estes Park, trekking through the National Forest, admiring the turning of aspen leaves, listening to the bugling of elk, and gazing on a sky full of stars. The hard part was doing it all with 21 kids, my gifted students, who love a life lived loud. I mean, they’re fine kids, full of curiosity and in love with Nature, but I did feel outnumbered. There were three other adults with me, 2 young women whose combined ages are still 12 years short of mine. And Ryan, the experiential instructor who MIGHT be 30. Who spends all his free time climbing challenging rock faces. He would look at me with compassionate curiosity whenever I’d stop along the trail and gasp for air. Or wince and whimper about my knees. He was patient and kind.