Written by: Micah Kaufmann, Earth Grant Intern
Recently, a small group of Earth Grant and College of Architecture and Planning (CAPLA) students got the opportunity to go on a group hike up to Rock Spring in Saguaro National Park, East. This is a place where the saguaros, sacred plants to the Tohono O’odham tribe, grow big and tall. Many of us were amazed at the beautiful scenery of the area, often stopping along the trail to look out and admire the countless cacti, shrubs, and stones that the park protects. Though walking along the dusty trail up the mountain, actually getting to the spring was a bit more complicated as we climbed over rocks and ducked under thorny branches, following small pools of water seeping out from under stones.
Rock Spring could not be seen in its entirety from one vantage point. Instead, it is spread out over at least 100 feet of stone, forming puddles and ponds between bunches of water-loving plants such as cattails and deergrass, great indicators of water that’s available year-round. We were all fascinated with the tiny caddisflies and snails that (literally) made their homes in the water, as well as by the visits of beautiful creatures such as a large Comanche wasp. As a well-deserved break from our hike, we all sat down to enjoy some trail snacks, fruit juice pouches (thanks again, Leona), and listen to SIA’s own Emily and Bryon tell us all about the ecology of natural springs, as well as a give out few naturalist tips on plant recognition.
Sky Island Alliance’s Spring Seeker Project is dedicated towards locating and monitoring natural springs in the region. The information taken by volunteer hikers and surveyors goes toward building a database that may be used to provide information for protecting these areas of rich biodiversity and ecological significance. If you would like to learn more, participate, or even organize a group hike for your own organization, please find further reading here: Spring Seeker – Sky Island Alliance
Until next time, Rock Spring!