We got the opportunity to visit the Greenbelt Conservatory after five online lessons. We had been attending meetings in the lab at WHSAD, but we were able to glimpse the park for the first time this semester. It was a vast forest with several spots to explore. I’m part of Group A consists of Magaly Aspiroz, Kole McLaurin, Zyon Thompson, Jeffrey Hernandez, Micheal Deans, and Micheal Nazario. Christopher Ricker, from the Greenbelt Conservancy, was our tour guide through the park.
We noticed several trails and minor roads with boards of wood that act as small bridges, which were entertaining to cross. Hiking in this terrain seems pretty strenuous, and I had fun. I can see how visitors to the Greenbelt desire its natural characteristics and a connection with nature. Some spots seemed like hills since we had to step on branches on the ground that functioned as steps to reach the summit. It was entertaining to stroll over them. We came across what appeared to be deer footprints at one point, and we looking forward to going in the spring and possibly seeing animals that inhabit the area.
It was a real good experience from the beginning when we started to do our ice breakers. This activity involved us discussing that previous visitors had brought up to the Greenbelt Conservancy. Zyon Thompson taught everyone from our group “survival skills” because we saw deer tracks on the floor. Mr. Ricker taught us the different trees at High Rock; many had various color markings, and serves as a form of way finding in High Rock. Each path has its color assignation to the trails throughout the forest. After we took our tour, we gathered in the meeting area, and our final activity was to cook marshmallows over a small bonfire, a bond-building experience to know our team better. Later, we wrote out several rules we thought we had to follow as a group, along with P Rock’s group name. Then we got cookies and chocolate to go with the marshmallows and made s’mores; they were delicious. We also received hard helmets and gloves and instructions on keeping safe. The next time we return to work will be using them for some labor.
On Wednesday we went as a group to Rock for the first time in person. We had been going to the lab upstairs for the meetings yet finally we were able to see the park for the first time in this new semester. To me it was a really big forest with many areas to explore. I’m in Group A and Chris was our guide around the park. We saw different trails and small paths with planks of wood that act as small bridges and they were really fun to cross. Actually, I almost fell when crossing a path because the wood plank wasn’t completely stuck to the ground so my group teammate, Kevin García, decided to help me for that while. Some areas were like hills because to get to the top we had to step on branches on the ground that worked like sort of stairs. It was really fun to walk over them. At one point we found what looked to be like deer tracks.
One of my favorite parts of the trip was when another of my teammates, Zyon Thompson, was teaching me “survival skills.” They were actually really fun to learn and really interesting. Really made the tour even more fun. Along the path we found trees with different color marks like blue and purple which I believe were to mark the paths throughout the forest. Once we returned to the meeting spot we all sat down and our last activity was to roast marshmallows in a small campfire. For this we had to go look for long sticks to put the marshmallows on. Zyon actually helped me find a resistant stick for me to use. Later we all got notepads and we wrote different rules that as a group we believe we have to follow along with the group name. Our group name is P Rock. After that we got cookies and chocolate in which we could put the marshmallows in. my marshmallow actually caught fire and i thought i had burned it but it was alright. We also got hardhats and gloves so that next time we go back to the park we can get to work. Before leaving we all had to say what we liked about the trip and what could be done better.
The first time going to High Rock Park was certainly an experience.
To start off, upon arriving at the site everyone as a group was greeted by Chris, Karen and Angel, all of whom gave us a quick and brief introduction. Each one of these mentors would be assigned their own group that they led on a tour around High Rock Park. I was a part of Group B and had the opportunity to hike around with Karen alongside my group. During the hike I was able to identify multiple problems with trails ranging from water build-up on paths with no accessibility to the lake below, to somewhat hazardous paths with multiple loose stones, rocks and roots protruding from the ground. Being able to encounter these problems firsthand allowed me to get more of an understanding of what my group’s project should be centered on fixing. Furthermore, being able to speak to Karen, an experienced member of High Rock’s staff, allowed me to learn new information such as how long certain problems have been present along with some general facts concerning the organisms both residing in and depending on High Rock Park for the continuance of the species.
In addition to the general learning experience, the trip to High Rock was simultaneously entertaining as there was never a dull moment. These entertaining experiences consist of students making smores, upbeat conversations, community building exercises and the lively hike through High Rock. I can easily say that this is something I’m looking forward to once again, particularly being able to experience and explore the landscape of the park for another time, looking deeper into the issues on the paths that we happen upon. Though next time I will certainly take the cold weather into more consideration when choosing how many pairs of socks to wear.