Basis North at Sunset Trail

On September 9th, 2019, 23 students from Basis North School left for a wild adventure in the Santa Catalina Mountains. This was the first hike of the semester, and though some of the students had been apart of SOS trips in the past, no one could expect what was to come on this day. My goal was to introduce the Seeds of Stewardship program to the students, allow them to explore their hiking capability, march through the highest biomes of the Sonoran Desert, and teach the students a little bit about this area. On a beautiful monsoon September day, we experienced such a wonderful and rich adventure. 

We started our trip by hiking through a small meadow where just on its outskirts we found a tall stand of ponderosa pines with plenty of space to fit us all. Under this canopy, we circled up and began introductions. I wanted to know the student’s names, their interest and intention for the day, and if they were to choose a trail name, what would it be? Some students wanted to get better at hiking, others wanted to be more healthy. Some wanted to learn more, and others just wanted to get outside. When it came time for trail names, we all had a great time laughing at the silly and awesome names students came up with. Then it was time for the safety discussion. Students were very respectful of the boundaries I described, and at times seemed overly cautious. When our conversation arrived at the “poop talk”, the kids lost their heads. It was such a fun and enjoyable conversation because the kids were fascinated with why and how people poop outside. 

Our hike led us through tall pine forests, down steep banks, through mud and across small trickles of summer creek water. Some of us took our shoes off, and spent our time enjoying the process of picking rocks our from between our toes. As we followed, the creek got larger and stronger, until we were transported to a whole new landscape. The pine forest was now mixed with deciduous riparian plants, and the creek brought new smells and fauna that the students were captivated by. When our stomachs started rumbling, we stopped at a rocky granite clearing that offered us awesome views and sweet places to explore and play. The water has carved out steep slopes and pools where water has nicely collected. When a student was finished with their food, they would slide and maneuver down to the pools. The most magnificent piece of it all was the smile on their faces as they wandered from pool to pool, tree to tree, rock to rock. Their curiosity grew with each encounter. “What is that? Are those spiders?!” said some students, observing insects that floated on the surface. “No those are water striders!” Another student shouted out. So many students marveled at the tadpoles and tailed frogs. Other students relaxed under trees, lying down on the nice smooth granite slabs. Sometimes, the curiosity of the students outpaced their caution and a misstep sent a couple of kids waist-high into the pools. This shocking moment was met with an abundance of joy and laughter as they tried to work their way out, only to slip back in again. Not a flash of uncomfort and unease crossed their faces, each student was happier than the next. 

After some time, thunder began to fill the sky. I explained to the students that we would need to hike back to the vans in order to remain safe from lightning. Though they were disappointed they understood. They were grateful for the decision when occasionally the thunder would be loud enough to make us all jump! It was definitely a raw experience, but we did the safest thing and returned to the vehicles. The students were so excited and joyful from the entire trip. This was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday, it was even better to spend it with 23 students from Basis North learning, adventuring, and having fun.