Frozen Dirt and Dead Coyotes
On November 13, 2018, 50 Students from Northland Preparatory Academy went to Gooseberry Springs on the Arizona Trail Mormon Lake Passage to attempt some trail work and trail design lessons.
It turned out, that though we studied trail design and cross slope a little, our biggest lesson was how to prepare for and manage very cold temperatures, frozen ground and blowing wind. As luck would have it this was one of the coldest and windiest days we had seen yet this season. We pulled out all the extra clothing we had to layer everyone up.
After unsuccessfully attempting to move frozen dirt and have a lesson in temperatures too cold to really concentrate we exercised our flexibility by changing the plan. We rounded everyone up to hike, look at the surrounding nature, and clear loose rocks and sticks from the trail where we could find them. Getting everyone moving helped a great deal and kept our spirits up.
The highlight of the day was one student finding a dead coyote carcass frozen to the earth. They talked about it and described it in great detail. Students gave it a name and invented stories about its life and how it may have come to die there. Anyone who thinks learning can’t erupt organically from meaningful outdoor experience hasn’t met these students. This is what education looks like.