Trail Work and Archeology

On November 15, 2018, 120 students from Mount Elden Middle School APEX program went to the Arizona Trail on Forest Road 303 near Walnut Canyon for a day of trail work and exploration.


With a group this large we need to break them up into much smaller groups to rotate through a variety of activities. Lessons with teachers, trail work with Arizona Trail volunteer and Forest Service partners, and exploration with Seeds of Stewardship Staff.


For our SOS educational rotation we visited an area with a small archeological ruin and pot sherds. The students were able to see how close these artifacts were to the trail and how hard these treasures can be to spot. Then nearby we viewed a spot where someone had done significant damage to the forest driving “donuts” very near the archeological site. All the talking about good stewardship in the world can’t make the same impact as seeing first hand how someone’s carelessness has left deep scars on the earth and narrowly missed a precious historical resource.


At the site of the vehicle damage was an huge area covered in cryptobiotic soil. We were able to talk about the importance of this organism to forest health and the length of time it takes for it to grow. But the most fun was watching the dry, black , uninteresting soil spring to life in green, red, and brown, mossy spirals when given a few drops of water. This fascinating and resilient symbiotic collection of life forms can go 6 months in dormancy and dry and reactivate instantly with water.


Meanwhile, our trailworking friends were busily smoothly tread and sculpting some beautiful drains.


A lovely day with great weather and at the end, after the tools were returned and the cookies consumed all 120 students made it safely back to the bus. No better outcome than that. This is what education looks like.