Mischief in the Coyote Mountains

On January 20th, 2018, 19 students from Basis North adventured into the Coyote Mountain Wilderness. These rugged mountains offered missive monolithic views, deep ravines, and anthropological wonders to explore and learn from. Together we trekked through areas with an abundance of archeological artifacts, played in tall grass fields, and ventured into wilderness that knew no trails and held our imaginations to wonder. It was a full day of adventure and natural wonder, the perfect recipe for learning.

Our expedition really began when the tires of our adventure van hit dirt. A long series of dirt roads full of twists and turns led us through a rough grassland and mesquite forest landscape. Although it was clear that we had mountains in front of us, it was not apparent we would see the impressive views soon to come. Eventually we arrived at our trailhead, which was nothing more than a two-track road on the opposite side of a cattle fence. We unloaded from the van, politely climbed over the fence, and began our hike.

It was at this point when the trip changed. Within 50 yards of the fence stood a group of boulders and jagged rocks. Here we quietly observed petroglyphs that may be well over a thousand years old and tinajas that have formed from generational work. These remains painted a picture of a past when nature and humans were hardly separated. The images show humanoids, livestock, native predators and prey. The presence of both may have been an indication of fertile hunting and harvest grounds, where people visited to grind seeds, collect water, and document their hunts, encounters, and experiences. It was a perfect way to start our adventure.

On the trail, it was nearly impossible to avoid stepping on pottery, flint napping tools and arrowheads. In some places it is as if a pot was dropped and shattered, then left in that exact position. We all marveled at the intricate designs that were painted onto the pieces, the paint used must be all natural and hard fought to make. The two-track road took us into a valley, which opened up and revealed the masterpiece we were walking toward. Massive rock faces towered in the far distance, offering an equally intimidating and inviting call forward. After a few miles of hiking and discovering more pottery and tinajas, we made it to the wilderness boundary. Some students stayed to play in mountainous terrain, while others ventured onward. Here there were no maintained trails. I let students venture off on their own to wander where no one else may have been before. It is different when we are not on trails, because there is no sense of a designated beauty, but rather that judgment is left to the bushwhacker. We spent a good time here wandering around before returning to the other group.

Our hike was a huge success, and after both groups regathered we all made our way back. We said goodbye to all of the wondrous things we discovered on our way in and said hello to things we did not see before. As we were leaving, dark luminous clouds rolled in from seemingly nowhere. It was the exact moment we arrived back at the adventure van that it began to rain; lucky us.