Cool Breezes and Pine Trees In Arizona

Tuesday, July 18 2017 Written by
Here I am in mid-week 9 of my LHIP internship at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument in Coolidge, Arizona, and I can't believe that my time here is almost over! All apprehensions about what Arizona would be like are gone, and I'm in love with it. Arizona and the people I have met here have exceeded all expectations, and I now see that there is so much more to Arizona than the heat and Grand Canyon. Arizona is such a diverse area--historically, geologically, biologically, climate, population wise. Arizona, specifically the Tucson area, is somewhere I can definitely see myself returning to and living in. Like my fellow LHIP intern Alex La Pierre in Tucson told me, "You either get Tucson or you don't." And I get it, and I love and appreciate it! This last week I had the opportunity to go on a six-day detail of sorts to Manning Camp in the Rincon Mountains within Saguaro National Park, which is right outside Tucson, Arizona. It started with a nine-mile hike up 5,000 feet of elevation gain to the Manning Camp/Cabin, which is an historic cabin from 1905 where a Tucson mayor lived before that land was taken over by the National Park Service. Once up at 8,000 feet above the desert, in the nice cool weather and pine trees, we started working on locating fresh water springs and seeps in the area. Saguaro National Park is doing regular tracking of the springs throughout the summer, to recognize their patterns and to keep track of what water sources are available over the course of the seasons for animals and people alike in their high elevation area. Our project was the Rincon High Elevation Survey, that is not only tracking water but also documenting archaeological, cultural, and animal activity sites. So we were systematically surveying the area on 20 meter transects to find points of interest, take a GPS point of them, and then send that information to the cultural resources and GIS staff in the park so they can compile the information for the survey project.
Along with the survey project we did other camp duties like cleaning up, cooking dinners, washing dishes, and sending back haul materials down mountain to town, which is where the helicopter came in. The helicopter came up to take down waste and unneeded materials to keep the camp site clean, as well as to bring up building materials for a pack mule shelter they are building at the camp. It was an awesome experience to learn about helicopter safety, how to prepare materials for transport,  and to talk to the pilots about what they do for the National Park Service.
Over all, it was an amazingly fun and educational experience! I had a great time and I got to hike and be outside all day for a week without phone service or technology, which is good for the soul. Ever since hearing about Manning Camp at the beginning of my internship in mid-May, I have had it on my mind as somewhere I wanted to see before my summer here in Arizona is over, so to not only visit it but be involved in the Rincon High Elevation Survey was everything I was looking for, and MORE!
Thank you Saguaro National Park, Casa Grande Ruins National Monument,and LHIP for presenting me with the amazing opportunity to be part of this project.
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