November 14, 2009

Camping Trip to the Eastern Washington Desert

On the first day of our camping trip we stopped at Umtanum Canyon to harvest materials for hand drill fire kits. In addition to learning about the best materials to use, we were able to observe a much different environment than on the Western side of the Cascade mountains. Students found signs of deer, Big-Horned sheep, beaver, Golden Eagles, porcupine, and many other species of animals.

Here Jason is explaining what to look for in Cottonwood roots and branches to make good fireboards for our Hand Drill kits.

We learned more about traditional uses of the land at the Yakima Indian Reservation Cultural Center Museum on the way to our campsite.

Here students are putting their knowledge of fire building into practice to build the fire up in camp. The fire not only serves as a source of heat, but a central place for all to gather around in community to reflect upon the day.

After a cold night, we woke up to frost. Many of us learned a valuable lesson about cold weather camping. After some modifications, such as using leaves as insulation under tents, most had a much warmer second night of camping. We then proceeded to Moses Lake sand dunes to study the desert ecology of the Northern Great Basin Desert.

On our final day we explored the Ginko Petrified Wood State Park as well as harvesting the long needles from the Ponderosa Pine for a class on basket making later in the semester. The trip was capped off by a snowstorm in the Cascade Mountains on the way home. We were able to put the knowledge of traditional ecological living that we have learned so far into practice on this trip. It was a good week.

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