Monday, June 21, 2021
Earth Day Spurs Silent Hike, Colorful Murals
Noah Koski, dressed as a squirrel to get in the mood for Earth Day, tastes a cottonwood tree at Draper Preserve in Hailey.
Sunday, April 25, 2021


Noah Koski sauntered up to a big cottonwood tree in the Draper Preserve and stuck his tongue out, running it against the thick, deeply fissured, grayish brown bark.

“It tastes earthy, hearty, comforting,” he said.

Koski, who heads up the Compassionate Leader Program for Flourish Foundation, spent Saturday morning showing people how to become more connected to Earth via an inner/outer scavenger hunt and a silent hike.

Bellevue Public Librarian Kristin Gearhart shows off a caterpillar craft and a bunch of recycled scraps for kids to make bracelets and headbands. She hopes to offer a STEM Camp in August, she said.

The scavenger hunt, devised in honor of Earth Day, did not involve material things placed through the woods. Rather, Koski asked adults and children to use five senses as they wandered through the woods.

“You have to find something you can see, smell, taste, hear and feel,” Koski said. “Then, find what’s in yourself that’s connected to nature.  It can be awareness of our reaction to the coldness of the river running by.  It can be the observation that there’s a bridge connecting two sides.”

The silent hike is similar, he says. It requires us to be quiet to focus on what’s around us.

“When you’re in a group it’s tempting to talk about weather, things like that. When you decide to hike in silence, you become more aware of the birds chirping. It’s a nice way to build deeper connection to the area you’re in. If you slow down, it supports us not just being visitors to a place but being part of it.”

Hailey artist Poo Wright-Pulliam designed this mural featuring local wildflowers outside the Hailey Public Library in honor of Earth Day. Advanced Placement art students from Wood River High School added the color.

Hailey resident Elizabeth Jeffrey concurred as she mulled over the idea of learning about ourselves from paying attention to our five senses.

“I suffer all the time not paying attention. I often fail to see the beauty around me,” she said. “As someone who came here from a moister climate, I like being by the river because I can smell the water, smell the fish. Even the cottonwoods have a different smell than what I’m used to. And I’ve heard it said that ponderosa pine smells like vanilla. Pondering my reaction to nature--it can be finding what makes you calm, what s you feel playful, what makes you feel fearful.”

Koski’s inside-and-out exploration of nature was one of a multitude of events held from Bellevue to Ketchum in conjunction with Earth Week. Mountain Rides handed out free helmets to those whose old helmets had cracked or yellowed. Kristin Gearhart of the Bellevue public Library handed out free books, ranging from “Frozen” to “The Eleventh Hour” as she showed youngsters such crafts as how to make a bird feeder using a toilet paper roll and peanut butter.

And Wood River High School and Sun Valley Community School students handed out free hot dogs, hamburgers, chips and soda at Balmoral Park as they launched their new Community Kitchen Table (La Mesa Comunitario).

Noah Koski leads a group in hula hooping during Earth Day festivities on a rainy afternoon at Balmoral Park.

The idea: To build community with food, music and sharing information, such as local updates on vaccines, said Calysta Phillips, the Community School French and Spanish teacher behind it.

The next one will be from noon to 3 p.m. May 8 at the Country Chalet trailer court just north of the Meadows Trailer Park.


“I think it’s a great idea to bring the community together,” said Isabella Thompson, a Sun Valley Community School student.

Members of the W.A.T.E.R. Club at Wood River High School painted this “One Earth. One Chance” mural on the JJ Tracy Building on Hailey’s Main Street.

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