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Return to the Lean-To

After a morning game and snack in the sunshine, we eagerly returned to camp. The lean-to was waiting for us in all its glory as if we had never left it! We cleaned camp: raking out the coals from the fire pit, picking up around camp, organizing our firewood, and gathering more wood. We found a place in the stream to construct a bridge in order to access a wonderful flat spot across the creek from our main camp area. Students used hatchets and saws to cut large logs to fit nicely across the water, and we completed the stream crossing before lunch.
Other students had built a fire structure to be ready for lunch and we all had a turn twisting a hand-drill kit made of Horsetail and Saguaro Cactus skeleton. Turns out the particular combo was not a good one, and one of our students came to the rescue with her flint and steel kit. A small spark caught in the Cattail and Cedar tinder bundle to ignite the waiting Birchbark inside the fire structure. Voila! We had fire!
Over lunch, Josh told a story about his recent hunt for a Coyote den. It was a successful venture and the story illustrated the very real possibilities of following your gut to amazing discoveries. We launched into an exercise in honing the senses. The idea is that through stretching our "sensory muscles," we are able to integrate all those sensory organs and brainpower into a way of knowing that surpasses what we can normally do. This is an awareness of the environment more akin to what our hunter-gatherer ancestors experienced in their day-to-day lives.
The students paired up and took turns blindfolding each other, leading their partner to a distant tree, letting them get to know it, then returning them to a starting point. Afterwards, we took a wild excursion to the far reaches of our home range! We romped down deer trails and found all sorts of cool stuff, including ...
A small den!
Large Coyote scats
Many, many scrapes in the forest floor
Mysterious scats
A wing of a large bird
Owl pellets
Hawk pellets
A Deer leg
A crossbow dart and shotgun shells
A hidden gorge on top of the mountain!
Much more fun and learning expected as the semester unfolds!
—Josh and Kevin