by Paula Fierros
During fall break, the Outdoor Adventures’ Club (aka, Pueblo’s Hiking Club) traveled to the Grand Canyon for four days, beginning on Oct. 13, with sponsors Mr. Ernesto Somoza and language arts teacher Ms. Angela Gonzalez.
Somoza said that trip was a“triumph”, although club members faced minor challenges. For example, thetemperature plunged to 20 degrees, and yearbook/exceptional education teacher Ms.Marie Little, a chaperone, injured her knee.
“Anything can happen on a trip like this,” Somoza said. “The trails are rigorous.”
Senior Andrew Romero, who describes himself as a “fervid member” of the Hiking Club, said, “I love this club because it gives me a chance to be active, and I love traveling. I love the outdoors. I’m not stuck to my phone.”
Leo Parra, a junior and member of the Hiking Club, said, “The sights [this school year] have been beautiful, and I’ve made a lot of crazy new friends while making a lot of new experiences.”
Not all of the trips will be as extensive as the Grand Canyon, Somoza added. The club plans on small trips to Tumamoc Hill and Madera Canyon—about a three-mile hike for each.
In November, new students will have an opportunity to join the Hiking Club with the restart of the “point system”—that is, collecting points from attending meetings, participating in the hiking trips and providing supplies for these trips.
Starting all over will allow students to join the club and build their points up to be able to participate in the trips.
“I expect students to participate in all our monthly meetings and join us on the majority of our camping/hiking trips,” said Somoza. “I have high expectations for our members and expect a certain amount of loyalty.”
There are at least two significant hiking and two camping trips left this school year. In December, the club will be venturing to Phoenix and hiking the trails of Camelback Mountain. In March, during spring break, the club will be going to White Sands National Monument in Southern New Mexico.
Club president Kevin Lopez, a senior, said his experiences during the trips so far this school have been “therapeutic” and were positive bonding experiences. He also said that being outdoors is always a humbling and refreshing feeling.
Somoza, who has been the sponsor of this club for the past four years, said that the Hiking Club is a long overdue organization.
“I was incredibly involved in both high school and college,” he said. “Now, as a teacher, I want students to go outdoors and enjoy the outdoors.”
The Outdoors Adventure Club has already collaborated with Pueblo’s television class (taught by Mr. Michael Gunnels) to produce a promotion to attract future club members.
Somoza said, “With this promotion, students will be able to tell their friends and family this year and get even more members involved.” He paused and added, “We also extended out to Tucson High to collaborate with them on trips. Our hope is to extend to other schools throughout Tucson, including University High School next year—to produce an inner-city Hiking Club.”
Somoza wants his students to “unplug” and appreciate their surroundings.
“I want students to see and hear their memories,” said Somoza, “and to spark their interest for the outdoors. That’s all I want.”