Mountain Mayhem: An evening on the lake |

Mountain Mayhem: An evening on the lake

May Selby
Mountain Mayhem

Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) rolled out the red green carpet, so to speak, in hosting an Evening on The Lake (EOTL), their summer benefit on Thursday, July 22, and Friday, July 23, at Hallam Lake, home to their 25-acre nature preserve and environmental learning center. Guests enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, an opportunity to walk the property and spot wildlife through binoculars and take canoe rides on the lake. Dinner was served in a clear top tent with twinkle lights and moss-lined tent poles where a locally sourced dinner was prepared by Rock Bottom Ranch with live music and after dinner drinks and dessert.

Instead of presenting a single event for approximately 200 guests, which had been the tradition prior to the pandemic, or several private dinners last summer for smaller groups, this year, they opted for two nights in a row with a hundred guests per event, which created a more intimate feel while still bringing those who care for the organization together to learn more and have a chance to lend their support.

The incredibly special setting of Hallam Lake serves as the first location for ACES and was founded by Elizabeth Paepcke in 1968 who donated the property. A founding board member, John McBride, joined for EOTL Friday night to hear his son Pete McBride give a speech as ACES’ Elizabeth Paepcke Visionary Award 2021 honoree.

ACES executive director Chris Lane welcomed all and introduced Pete, acknowledging the value of how the more than 50-year-old organization connects people to one another and also to nature. It transforms how people think about food and farming. It connects people with leadership that can make a difference. He also noted they’ll be breaking ground on their capital project to restore the Catto Center at Toklat this fall.

Pete next took to the stage, appreciating the opportunity to have “grown up with ACES,” as a child in Aspen and learning through this “living classroom.” A self-taught photographer, filmmaker, writer, and public speaker, Pete has traveled the world and many of its remote places, on assignment for the National Geographic Society, Smithsonian, Google, The Nature Conservancy and more. He emphasized the importance of ACES with the reminder that “small groups change the world.”

He reflected upon the pandemic and its impact on wildlife rebounding when “the volume was turned down” from less traffic and activity. “ If we give life a chance it can come back together and revive,” he added. He emphasized the importance of creating new stewards for the environment, which ACES does on a daily basis.

All guests received a parting gift of an ACES cloth bag containing a copy of their coffee table book “The Hidden Life Around Us,” with photos taken over three days of more than 400 species of plants, animals, bugs and fungi surveyed at Hallam Lake Nature Preserve.

Learn more about Aspen Center for Environmental Studies via

Pete McBride gives a speech as ACES’ Elizabeth Paepcke Visionary Award 2021 honoree. Burnham Arndt photo.
Laurie McBride and Antonia Dubrul, Elizabeth Paepcke's daughter. MarySue Bonetti photo.
The Klugs, the Sohns, the Shooks and the Huls-De Baetses.
Coley Cassidy, Pete McBride, Annie Cassidy (holding Pete's new book “Seeing Silence” out this fall, available for pre-order now), and John McBride. MarySue Bonetti photo.
Matt and Morgan Brown on a canoe ride on Hallam Lake. May Selby photo
Rock Bottom Ranch Community Programs Coordinator Kitty Winograd with ACES' golden eagle. MarySue Bonetti photo.
ACES development director Christy Mahon, in yellow, surrounded by Julia, Blake, Jack, and Christina O'Donnell. MarySue Bonetti photo
Craig Ward, Jeff Gorsuch, Bill Stirling and Barbara Bussell. MarySue Bonetti photo.
ACES executive director Chris Lane with Lee Lee and Bill Harriman. MarySue Bonetti photo
Karyn Gerschel Lamb, Lucy Marriott, Annabel Bond and Candice Gorsuch. MarySue Bonetti photo.


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