Outdoor Adventure Club
Outdoor Adventure Club
By Lindsay Wood
A few of the members of the Outdoor Adventure Club were able to attend their first campout recently. After learning and practicing skills related to the outdoors it was time to get outdoors. After school on Friday, October 21st students loaded their gear up in a school van and began the long journey from Hesperia to the Mojave Preserve, specifically Hole in the Wall campground. The group arrived right before sunset and began the task of setting up their tent. I was able to sit back with the other leaders and watch, laugh and give help as was needed. It was especially entertaining as they were using a brand new tent that was different from the type they had practiced setting up.
After the tent was up, gear was stored, we ate dinner, and one of the students attempted to get a fire going without using any accelerant. After numerous attempts we had fire! We sat around stared into the flames and shared campfire stories, questions about life and of course we joked around. After eating s’mores and enjoying each other’s company we headed to bed to get rested for the day ahead of us.
The next morning, we got up, warmed ourselves by the fire and ate breakfast. We reviewed the day’s plan to hike the Rings Loop Trail; I shared there would be some special activities along the way before ending up at the Visitor’s Center. I gave the students a copy of the area map and tasked them with figuring out how to get to the trailhead. Let’s just say map reading is not necessarily their strong suit. After much discussion they made a few somewhat educated guesses and eventually they got it right. Map in hand we sent them off in the direction they chose, and the adults took another route. When the adults arrived to our surprise the students actually were where they were supposed to be. After reading the interpretive signage at the Visitors Center the students lead us to the trailhead.
That morning a story was shared of a previous campout at Hole in the Wall that was very cold and we ran out of wood and had to resort to burning cow patties. Students were not buying it even though it was true. They had not seen any cows or cow pies around. I’ll get back to the cow pies in a minute. On the hike we came across some petroglyphs, we stopped and looked around and the students explored the surrounding area for additional petroglyphs. A little further down the trail we stopped for our first activity, a cow pie throwing contest. After a demonstration by their fearless leader they all found their pie and lined up to see who could throw their pie the furthest. It was comedy to see their first up close and personal interaction with a cow pie. Pies were flying, some crashed near by and the farthest flew 90 feet before crashing to the ground.
We continued our hike taking in the beautiful landscape and keeping an eye out for wildlife. Our next stop was to use sling shots like David slew Goliath with. Rocks were flying everywhere, some so high we were surprised an aircraft was not hit. After some time, they began to get the hang of it. One of the questions by a student that I had not answered was “why do they call this Hole in the Wall?”, that question was answered as we approached the rings area of the trail where there are endless holes in the walls. The students spent time exploring, crawling into holes and having fun. They were having so much fun they forgot to be on the lookout for snakes. One of the students was about to crawl into an area when a leader told them to stop. There was a small sidewinder on the ledge the student was headed for, the fun quickly dissipated for the students as they began to focus a lot more on their surroundings. We pressed on to the rings and climbed our way out of the canyon we were in. Once on top, the climbing and exploration resumed and then we headed to the Visitor’s Center.
At the Visitor’s Center they looked around and the NPS Ranger talked to them about the area, wildlife and being good stewards of the land. The Ranger then “Deputized” them as Junior Rangers. We headed back to camp for lunch. After lunch a leader took them on another hike to a plateau behind our camp. The rest of the leaders took advantage of some down time. While they were gone the wind began to blow. Who would have thought the wind would blow in the desert? As it often does, the wind increased in velocity. By the time they returned from the hike I was already securing items so they did not blow away. We had an early dinner as we were headed to Mitchel Caverns for a night hike and tour of the caverns (by special permit).
While waiting for State Parks staff to open the gate and let us in the students came across a tarantula. I’m sure the tarantula was on the move looking for a mate as it is the season. The students were keeping a safe distance until a couple of us showed them how to handle them safely. Once the gate was opened we headed to the Visitors Center to look around before hiking to the caverns. The tour of the caverns is always exciting, especially no one from our group had been there before. On the drive back to Hole in the Wall we saw several cattle on or near the road.
Did I mention the wind was blowing? Hardest it had blown all day, so no campfire, it was straight to bed we went. Throughout the night there were several gusts that I was sure would have collapsed tents but did not. It even rained off and on in the early morning hours. The next morning it was cold but the campfire felt great! After breakfast it was time to recap our trip, lessons learned and things observed. We broke down camp and loaded up to head for home but not before stopping at the Lynnwood Del Taco for lunch.
It was a great trip, but the best part was watching the students experience the outdoors in new ways. ~ Lindsay