For three nights and four days, students backpacked 24 miles through Grand Gulch and the side canyons in Cedar Mesa, Utah. For the majority of the hike, they bushed-whacked through a sandy wash and navigated a meandering gulch that was often blocked by large downed trees and shrubs from previous flash flooding. Towering sandstone walls and cottonwood trees provided respite from the desert sun and heat.
Each day the students set up and tore down camp and prepared their own meals using Whisper-lite camp stoves. Pools of water from summer storms provided ample drinking water and opportunities for students to develop their backcountry survival skills further by filtering and straining their water. Students also practiced reading topographical maps, route finding, teamwork, and leadership skills.
In the evenings, students celebrated their classmates with appreciations, cooked dinner, read, journaled, and discussed the activities of the day. The abundance of Anasazi dwellings that were sighted daily provided for rich discussions and activities about human history and desert adaptations.