An Evening Campfire at Bachechi

by | Nov 18, 2019

One of my favorite things about working with Cottonwood Gulch is the opportunity to meet amazing people from all around the world and country. Recently, we hosted a campfire circle and chili dinner for the attendees of this year’s Wilderness Risk Management Conference (WRMC) sponsored by NOLS. This conference brought together outdoor professionals wanting to gain practical risk management skills, network with others in the industry, share field and administrative techniques, and help develop risk management standards for the outdoor adventure and education industries. The campfire and dinner were held at Bachechi Open Space which is a 27+ acre wildlife management area and county park owned by Bernalillo County and co-managed by Cottonwood Gulch, and it is located along the Rio Grande Bosque right in the middle of the city.

It was a delightful cool fall evening in October when the WRMC group arrived. Some of our amazing staff drove the group over in our fleet of multi-passenger vans… sort of like a wilderness Uber service for the evening 😉 while a few of our other staff had been busy all afternoon shopping for, prepping, and cooking up a wonderful stew and green chile corn muffins to be ready for the crowd. The scent of this warming food filled the park as the sun set for the day. 

Being an outdoor enthusiast and educator, something I’m grateful for that’s part of the job is getting to sit in moonlight being warmed by a campfire. But something that tops that is getting to do this while surrounded by amazing people who are all talking together, engaging in games, deepening their experience through reflection, and singing songs. This is a core component to any day spent with Cottonwood Gulch. Maybe I’m biased, but I think we have some of the best musicians on staff at the Gulch and it feels like such a blessing being able to sit and sing with this group. It should be noted, I sound more like a coyote howling in pain when I sing along, but no one seems to judge! So, on this cool October evening, we gathered, ate and sang but we also ended the evening becoming mindful of the connection we share with nature. I was able to lead a mindfulness guided meditation that wove together the elements of nature so we could experience our connection with the natural world. The campfire, the moonlight, the cool air, the rocks we sat upon around the fire, and the warm stew were all metaphors for the elements of: air, fire, water, earth, and space. What a great way to end the night! The Gulch strives to not only get folks into nature, but to create experiences that leave a life-changing impression. We don’t just conquer a mountain when we summit it, we connect with it. 

As many of you already know, the Gulch has a basecamp of operations out in Thoreau, NM and we lead expeditions on road loops and in the deep wilderness of the Southwestern US. But did you also know we head up outdoor education events right in the city of Albuquerque? Yep! we contract with Bernalillo County to provide outdoor learning opportunities at their property located at Bachechi Open Space. This park features over 27 acres of Bosque habitat with access to the Rio Grande river. It is also home to migrating waterfowl in a wildlife management wetland pond, an arboretum with locally grown plums, pears, apricots, and apples. There is an organic vineyard and pecan grove too. The education building is run on solar power and is home to our (absolutely free) Sunday Family Funday events that we at the Gulch provide throughout the year Feb-Nov from 12:00-5:00 pm. It is also the location where we plan and host 20 (also free) community events through our Speaker Series where the community can gather and learn together about a variety of topics like: bat rehabilitation, water conservation, raptor rescue, anthropology, geology, home composting, and Star Parties, to name a few… We hope you can come check out this aspect of our organization in the near future!


Marnie Rehn wears many hats for the Gulch as a Per Diem Trek Staff, Bachechi Open Space Caretaker, Sunday Fun Day Coordinator, and Speaker Series Event Planner.