It was getting hot again. The cool rain from an hour before and our time spent frolicking in the box canyon on Christopher Creek were all but memories.
We were all a long way from the comfort of Prescott College, and even further from our homes, spread all across the country.
It was nearly half past two now and we were on our way to Bear Flats by way of the R-Bar-C trail. As we head overland, the beauty that is southeastern Arizona surrounded us.
Over the past nine days we had seen so much bio-diversity, ranging from our start in the alpine forest of Barbershop Canyon, to the fresh mountain water of Horton Springs.
By this point in the trip, we had all, at one time or another, experienced some level of awe at the wonder of nature and appreciation of the fact that there are still places left in America where one can "get lost."
Today was no different. As I gazed upon the Arizona white oak that lined the trail, the thought of the huge ponderosa pines we had slept under the night before passed through my mind. Life is good.
As we left the woods, we were greeted by the small community of Bear Flats. I felt right at home here. A nostalgic feeling overcame me. As I walked, my thoughts drifted.
I imagined what it would be like to live in such a humble, isolated utopia of a community. Apple trees lined the side of the road and horse pastures filled roadside spaces that are so often paved in this day and age, in many communities.
After a pleasant stroll through Bear Flats, we arrived at the Bear Flats campground area, this time greeted with a not-so-pleasant welcome.
At first, I was shocked -- later, outraged -- by the amount of trash scattered about what, I am sure, was at one time a beautiful recreational area.
As we all pitched in on an effort aimed at restoring Bear Flats to its original state of recreational beauty, people in our group began discussing how this made them feel.
The overall consensus was disgust.
How could people neglect and abuse an area so kind as to offer its resources for the recreation of us all?
A good portion of our time was spent picking up the beer cans, eggshells, wrappers and yes, even human waste.
As I walked around, trash bag in my hand, my thoughts gradually changed from anger and disgust to more bright and inspiring colors, those of hope and education.
If somehow, we could bring light to a serious local issue to those in the community who might be clouded by ignorance of the condition of this land, a difference could be made. The ignorance of this issue is serious and demands respect and attention.
Today Bear Flats shines with its own unique and natural beauty.
Please help keep it that way by pitching in and helping to educate those not in the know. By helping to keep this area clean, we are not just doing it for ourselves, but for the enjoyment of everyone.
The story is by Prescott College student Joshua Tourjee, who relates his experience in taking part in a a Prescott College Wilderness Orientation class that took place in September.