Taking the Scenic Route: Mines alumni, students and friends raft the Grand Canyon

by | Oct 3, 2017 | Alumni Network, Fall 2017 | 0 comments

Many people have made a trip out to the Grand Canyon to witness one of the most scenic natural spots in the United States. Yet, after standing at its edge and witnessing its awe-inspiring natural beauty, it’s only natural to want to get up close and personal with the Canyon’s unique landscape and geology. Mines provides that opportunity.

Each May, Mines’ Office of Alumni Relations offers a seven-day rafting adventure through the Grand Canyon. In 2017, a group of alumni, students, faculty and friends were led down the Colorado River by geologist and Mines professor Steve Sonnenberg ’81. The group stepped back in time through a long chapter of the Earth’s geological history, enjoying beautiful hikes and bonding with their fellow adventurers.

“I loved the group spirit that developed during the trip. We arrived as strangers and left as friends. Throughout the trip, we interacted with everyone. Our group included current Mines students and faculty, a couple of college students from other schools and a variety of different vintages of Mines alumni and their spouses,” former Mines faculty member Judy Schoonmaker said. “There were great discussions about careers, training and common experiences at Mines. Even better, I think several long-term connections were established.”

“I felt like the group transitioned on that day from a bunch of strangers trying to get to know each other, to friends supporting each other and helping each other have a spectacular experience,” added Nancy Newton, parent of current Mines student Stephen Newton.

The group still learned a lot about the scenery and were able to identify the geological differences in the layers of rock along their route. “Steve’s lectures about the geology of the Grand Canyon were great,” Schoonmaker said. “Each morning he started us off with a short lesson on what we could expect to see that day. As we rafted down the river, he pointed out rock formations and identified the layers.”

Everyone in the group agreed: this was a trip of a lifetime. “I wish I did it sooner, post-graduation,” said Linda Mohammad ’07, MS ’09. “I’ll definitely do it again in a few years.”