Summer 2012 – Week 2: Super Hikers and Wilderness Skills!

All of the “Bigs” made it to the top of the Quad from Aspen Vista!

We started the week by getting to know each other, creating our group contract, and having a discussion about how to prepare for a hike.  What should we bring?  Who should we tell where we are going?  We learned an acronym to remind us of the important things to remember: S.A.F.E.R.

S – Stop and Stay Put if you are lost

A –Always Tell and Adult where you are going

F – Go with a Friend

E – Bring proper Equipment

R – Rest and take care of yourself by eating and drinking water

We set off up the mountain for Aspen Vista.  The plan was for the Bigs (aka Golden Eagles this week) to hike up through the aspens along the ridge through Carl’s Meadow and up to the Quad.  The route was more than a mile with an elevation gain of 1500 feet. A big challenge!  Along the way we stopped to drink water, eat lunch and learn how to use our compasses. We enjoyed the wildflowers, beautiful trees and great views.  It was a cool and  drizzly day.  Fortunately, we were prepared for the rainy outing with the right equipment so everyone stayed (mostly) dry.  ALL of the Golden Eagles made it to the top, which was exhilarating and exciting for the Eagles.  We were in radio contact with the Ladybugs so we called them from the top as they were on their big hike down the mountain from Aspen Vista to the Big Tesuque Campground.

All of the little ladybugs on the Rio en Medio Trail

The Littles – aka ladybugs – also hiked through a light rain and chilly weather –  but the brave ladybugs persevered.  We did ladybug dances to stay warm. As the ladybugs ate lunch we learned about the directions and how to make a compass with a needle and water. We looked at maps of the mountain and spent the rest of the hike looking out for landmarks and other ways to tell where we were on the map. By the end of the hike, we were tired ladybugs we wanted to rest.  We read ‘Oh The Places You’ll Go’ and hung out by the river as it began to warm up.  After our big hike we warmed up in the bus with some singing, the Animal Game, and a lot of silliness.

Tuesday was another fun day  – on our way up the mountain we sung songs: the Bear Song, the Bumblebee Song, and Black Socks to name a few.  The Little Ladybugs started our hike in Hyde Park and hiked about a half a mile to the waterfall.  We all got a chance to do some bouldering after plenty of time learning the safest way to climb a rock.  Counselor Mike spotted us one at a time as we learned to spot steady holds and climbed up – just far enough to be safe and exciting at the same time!  As we hiked down we played Landmark Telephone and paused to listen  – to the water, to the birds, and the other sounds of the forest. At the end of the hike, Mike taught us how to make rope and paint brushes out of yucca – a great wilderness skill!  Some of us painted with the yucca in our nature journals and some made rope for binding their journal.

The “Bigs” enjoying Tesuque Creek on the Borrego-Bear Wallow Loop

On Tuesday, the Golden Eagles arrived at the trailhead of the Borrego-Bear Wallow Trail with the intention of some Mountain Kids doing the entire 4-mile loop and some doing the Bear Wallow Trail out and back (about a mile shorter).  They had a choice.  It should not have surprised me that they ALL chose to challenge themselves with the longer hike. These are Mountain Kids Super Hikers, after all!  Along the way we saw a lot of interesting and beautiful things. We saw many beautiful wildflowers (and pressed a few), examined a tent caterpillar nest, and learned about how to tell the age of an evergreen  – without cutting it down.   With games to drink water, riddles, the A-Z Animal Game, the Birthday Challenge  – a group problem solving game, and some orienteering, we learned and had fun as we hiked along. We had lunch at the Tesuque River and had time for free play in the water.  What a beautiful spot on a hot summers day, and ALL of the kids completed the 4-mile loop.  We are definitely a group of Super Hikers!

Shelter-building at Base Camp

Wednesday.  The Golden Eagles were at Base Camp today for a lot of learning about Wilderness Skills.  We completed an orienteering course, learned about three types of survival shelters and built one of the three with a team.  We learned some knots and used them to make a travois – a stretcher that can be made with sticks and ropes to carry an injured person.  The best part was when we got to practice using it!

Making yucca paint brushes

We made paintbrushes out of yucca plants, pressed flowers and made maps for our journals.  We played Capture the Flag and Alaskan Football and had a discussion of how a pinecone spreads its seeds.  It was a busy day of learning, discovering, and fun.

On Wednesday, the Lady Bugs adventured to the Rio en Medio for some hiking, water play, and the opportunity to see poison ivy in real life!  We identified it quickly and cautioned the kids to be aware and not to touch it as they walked by. We also had fun learning how to play Stalker, making watercolor paintings with yucca paintbrushes, and finding Secret Spots while playing by the river.

On Thursday, the Bigs and Littles swapped locations.  The Bigs hiked up to the Rio en Medio waterfall. It was refreshing and beautiful.  To commemorate our accomplishment as Super Hikers this week, each of us received a necklace with four beads to represent our four days with Mountain Kids.

The ladybugs had a sweet day at Base Camp. After such a long week, we were ready to just rest, play games, and make arts and crafts. After learning more about maps, East, West, North, South, and landmarks, the ladybugs went on a small boundary hike. Then we learned about different kinds of forts and outdoor shelters.   First, we drew a picture of a fort, and then we went out collecting sticks to build one. Many of us elected to build smaller forts that we could take home, but several of us worked on a huge fort, big enough to sit in! We finished our nature journals and bound them together with yucca rope that we made. When it got hot we played Drip, Drop, Splash, but made sure to treat the water with respect and not waste too much. It was a really amazing day and so nice to spend time fun a relaxed time together at Base Camp.[slideshow]

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