Gabriel Mogollón – Manning Camp!

So far, one of the highlights of my internship was the opportunity to visit Manning Camp. Manning camp is an old summer home that was built for the mayor of Tucson in 1905. It was built in an area frequented by Indigenous peoples living in the area due to its abundance of water and rich soil, ripe for farming. While most of the old camp was removed as a result of weathering and the fact that it was built on designated wilderness, the main building still remains as a hub for biotechnicians and other researchers as well as trail crews, fire crews, and rangers. It is a relic of an older time and is the only sign of human life in the area for miles. It gets water from an old plumbing system installed at some point after the cabin was built and the modern era and even some appliances and other luxuries.

In order to get up to Manning Camp, park-employed cowboys packed our gear and food up to the camp on mules. We followed a few days later on a ten-mile hike with a 6,000 foot elevation gain passing through mesquite flats, manzanita groves, and many more unique biomes. Thanks to the summer monsoons, the usually dry tenajas and creeks were full of reddish rainwater, tinted from the tannin that steeps from fallen oak leaves in the drainages, perfect to hop into for a break from the scorching heat.

At the top of the Rincons, at Manning Camp, we got to study all sorts of interesting natural phenomena, from natural springs that create little rainforests, to one of a kind alder-wood trees. The first day we were up at Manning, we searched for clarinet cup cacti, which were surprisingly common and had so many pups, counting each one seemed impossible. The next day we went to some nearby spring to search for spring snails, which was ultimately unsuccessful unfortunately, but getting to see all of these unique, one-of-a-kind little wonderlands surrounding each spring was remarkable. Some were surrounded by forests of ferns, some by multicolored mosses and lichens, and some surrounded by uncommon groves of aspens. The third day we went to see more springs and check wildlife cameras set up around them. At some of the springs were families of coatis and lone bobcats. At others we got to see bears with their cubs scratching on trees like they were in The Jungle Book or mountain lions and skunks on the prowl for food, though they were searching for vastly different types of food.

On the way down from the mountain, I got the chance to reflect on all of the interesting stories the cowboys told me, about dangling cattle and sheep or getting tossed off their horses on the way up to the camp. While I had no understanding of how special Manning Camp was prior to having visited, it has amounted to one of my best and most rewarding experiences with this internship!

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