Miami Gets it Done

On May 16th, 2018, 10 students from Miami High School set out for a day of trail work on the Arizona Trail north of Picketpost Trailhead. Only 14 days since our last trip in the snow, this expedition was under a bright and hot sun. Our mission was to drive nearly 5 miles north on Happy Camp Rd to a point where the trail intersects, hike north from there, and begin work on reported issues. This is the 5th expedition for these students, all of which were anxiously waiting for the trail work expedition. The opportunity to be trained and allowed to use tools and equipment to make repairs and changes to the Arizona Trail was an exciting proposition for them. It was a day for intense work, in an intense environment. A perfect trip for Miami High School.

This portion of the trail encountered significant damages in a very isolated area. Old fallen cottonwood trees sat across the trail, heavy rains had washed the trail away in many areas, making the arroyo crossings very difficult to navigate, and overgrowth that threatened the heads of any traveler. We entered the area with an arsenal of tools, and immediately began our work. Above the trail, a cottonwood had snapped in half and fallen onto a cliff ledge. In this way, it was suspended directly over the trail. With rain and wind, it was only a matter of time before the piece collapsed and fell with destructive force. Zach MacDonald and I approached the fallen tree safely from the top side of the cliff, and with some encouragement, were able to control the collapse safely. Once on the ground, moving this trunk was a huge project, and required 5 students to safely move it.

On another area of the trail, a large group was present moving earth. Their attempt was to make the trail highly visible, after and before it crossed the wide arroyo. This was more than cairn building, but resembled a miniature pyramid instead. In addition, students installed carsonite signs to further make the trail clear. Large rocks were moved and placed that would resist most of the minor floods.

This portion of the trail sees a lot of equestrian use and was very overgrown with cat-claw acacia, prickly pear, mesquite branches, and more. This was a very difficult task to tackle, as these plants can be hard to remove, and very dangerous to the skin and body. At this time of day, the sun was oppressive. It was hard to be cautious and careful when removing the plants. Up to this point, two fallen trees were moved, mass amounts of plant growth were cut back, and portions of the trail had been repaired and revitalized. Everyone was moving slowly under the sun, but we had just a little more to do.

When we finally returned to the vehicles the A/C was cranked, and after the tools were put away the students loaded inside. The reward from a successful hard day of work was brighter than the sun on these students faces. Real and tremendous tasks had been completed by these students. It was an amazing way to wrap up a season of incredible expeditions and learning.

Thanks to Resolution Copper for their support of this outing!