I have spent the last couple of months studying for a test for work and it has consumed all of my free time. Now that the test is behind me I am planning to spend more time on me. If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. I need to get back into a regular exercise routine and what better time to start than before I fill up my free time again.
Part of my hopeful routine is to get the family out for hikes more often than never. I live 10 minutes from Saguaro National Park, and have my entire life, and have never explored the park. We spend days driving to visit other National Parks but have yet to explore the ones in our own backyard. That stops now.
We went on our first hike in Saguaro National Park this past weekend and had a great time. I love living in the desert. While the rest of the country is buried in snow and negative degree temperatures, the sun is shining and it’s a lovely 70 degrees.
Little Miss had a friend sleep over and we brought her along for the hike. Her friend has never participated in a Junior Ranger program so we thought it would be fun for all three kids to do it together. Of all the Junior Ranger programs the kids have done this was my favorite. The kids each received a backpack full of cool supplies to help them complete their booklet. They had to turn in the backpacks when they finished their booklets but each contained binoculars, a magnifying glass, sheets to help the kids identify animal tracks and plants, colored pencils and some other useful items.
If you’re new to the Junior Ranger program it’s a great way for the kids, and adults, to learn about the parks and help them become stewards of our parks. You can pick up a booklet from the rangers in any National Park Visitor Center. Each park has a slightly different program and some parks charge a small fee, $1 or $2 for the booklets, although Saguaro does not. Some parks require the kids to listen to a ranger-led talk. My favorite talk was in Yellowstone where we learned about animals incredible sense of smell. In the Grand Tetons we learned about beavers, very cool, and in Yosemite we learned about bears while roasting marshmallows around a campfire.
After the kids complete their booklet a ranger reviews it with them and then they have to raise their right hand and take the Junior Ranger oath. The ranger in Saguaro National Park was awesome. He even threw in “I promise to eat my vegetables, I promise to do my home work, and I promise to obey my parents.” I wish I could have recorded it so I could play it when needed.
Once the kids take the oath they receive a pin and in the case of Saguaro National Park, a certificate and poster, too.
We hiked the Mica View Trail. If you enter from inside the park rather than off of Broadway you start at a picnic area. We ate lunch and then leisurely strolled along the trail. It was just under 2 miles round trip. The trail is really easy and fairly flat. It is a dirt trail but we saw one or two people pushing jogging strollers.
We saw several birds, a couple jackrabbits and tracks which the kids determined belonged to a coyote. They used the track guide from their Junior Ranger pack to help them come to this conclusion. We do not have any pictures of the animals because I broke our good camera lens on Christmas day. I accidentally dropped the camera and it shattered the filter which then scratched the lens. Total bummer. After not being able to capture the jackrabbits with my iPhone we immediately went home and ordered a new lens. I am hoping to get pictures of jackrabbits next time we go. I love their huge ears.