The group loaded up and after a short drive made it to the starting point for the hike down Eagle's Point Trail. After dropping off the kids, Mrs. B. and Mrs J. drove off so as to leave one of the Suburbans at the other end of the trail. I was left with Mrs. P., to watch the urchins. After the long drive they were as twitchy as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I was having a blast watching Mrs. P. using the old school method of keeping a herd of schoolkids in line. It was nice to hear a teacher jump all over an out of line kid and not be the one getting their butt jumped on.
During this wait, Bratly introduced himself to me. Bratly is one of those type of kids that we are all familiar with. The kid has a pretty good heart but he is always in trouble. He is active to the point of consternation and would probably explode if he had to shut his yap for more than a span of a minute. He started taking pictures with his disposable camera right and left to the point that his entire roll of film would be used up before we even started the excursion. Watching him running around giving a non-stop running commentary of the surroundings and the world in general and taking pictures of mesquite trees, cactus, his classmates, and puffs of clouds, I couldn't help but think of the remarkable similarity to a famous urchin of the film world.
The other teachers arrived and we started our hike. The temperature was already starting to reach 90 degrees and it was only mid-morning. The canyon was remarkable not to the degree of The Grand Canyon but it was still remarkable the way nature had sculpted a work of art on a grand scale. Mrs. B. had taken a two week course in the park concerning the various aspects of the park so she proved a very good guide. The first real stop of the trip was a spot along a dry creekbed where the water running down the canyon had cut a natural bridge. We climbed off the main trail and gazed through the bridge.
The hike then resumed with the teachers pointing out the various plants along the trail including the sensitive plant. The sensitive plant is one that I have seen many times in the past but I had never before knew it's actual name although I had always been amazed by it's properties. Once touched, the leaves of the plant curl up to protect itself. The kids were also shown one of my favorite plants, the Stinkberry Bush, so named because the berries of the plant mimic the odor of a skunk.
That is when the trail took a turn for the worse. The trail started to climb back out of the canyon. And as the trail climbed, the temperature started climbing right along with it. I had been walking at the rear of the pack in order to keep company with the slower walkers among the children. I was pleasantly surprised by the stamina of the kids though for I heard very little moaning and groaning. Maybe those journalists who bitch and moan about today's kids should go on one of these nature hikes and just see that these kids still have some get up and go, including one little lady who had made the hike in a walking cast.
We arrived about at the end of the trail which was just another short walk down the paved road to the picnic tables and a sack lunch. The lunch ladies had known just what to pack; a sandwich, chips, and chocolate chip cookies. The lunch layover lasted quite a while as everyone was pretty well worn out from the hike and the heat.
After the layover was a trip to the Ranger Station where the Park Ranger gave a talk and a slide show presentation of the various bats that we would see at the bat fly out later that day. After the slide show the ranger passed out the hides and skulls of the various creatures found in the park including raccoons, deer, bobcats, badgers, and coyotes. Then she spoke of the parks history and the archeological site of Mammoths located at the park and of the Paleo-Indians that once inhabited it. We went outside and were given a short demonstration on throwing a spear with an atlatl.
The kids lined up and took turns attempting to throw the atlatl. One large kid chunked his spear about 100 feet. It was finally my turn and the damn spear went about 20 feet and that was about it. Mrs. B. had some practice with the device and was barely able to match the kid. I could have chunked the spear farther with my bare hand but I can see how with a little practice it would really make a spear fly.
While watching the final group throw their spears, Danielle introduced herself and attempted to teach me various phrases in German, French and Italian but it was rather odd hearing all of these languages spoken in the same redneck twang of an accent. After the throwing demonstration, the group loaded up for a trip back to the picnic area for a wienie roast; Hot dogs and Smores, but could I survive a barbeque without cold beer.
Tomorrow I will post the third and final installment of The Fieldtrip. Which will include the viewing of the bat fly out at Clarity tunnel.