Sunday, March 2, 2014

Volunteer Appreciation Days and a secret hike

Last week was volunteer appreciation week at the Maricopa County Parks, and we were lucky enough to be treated to TWO celebrations in our honor!

On Wednesday morning, the staff from our park, Lake Pleasant, teamed up with the staff from Cave Creek Regional Park to host a breakfast for the volunteers from both parks.  We all gathered at 8am at the day use picnic area here at the lake,

Gathering for breakfast

and were treated to a full breakfast buffet – donuts, oatmeal, pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, biscuits & gravy, fruit, waffles, coffee and juice.     Do I want pancakes or eggs?









The staffs did all the cooking, and we all ate until we were full!

Two of the cooks


Eddie's getting his breakfast


Gerald making eggs

Everything was delicious, and there was tons of food!

Enjoying breakfast

Our delicious breakfast feast was followed by our boat tour of Lake Pleasant.  It was a great way to spend a beautiful morning, and all of the volunteers enjoyed the tour.  Thanks Lake Pleasant & Cave Creek staff!

The celebrations didn’t end there, though . . . on Thursday, the Maricopa County Parks & Recreation Director and Volunteer Coordinator joined our Park Staff in hosting a volunteer lunch. 

We all met at one of the group camps, and joined Lake Pleasant’s very own interpretive volunteer, Frank, on a short hike to a secret location in the park.     Our guide, Frank


Without Frank to lead us, we never would have known that this spot existed, let alone been able to find it!







We followed a “burro trail” into the desert,

Following a burro trail

admiring the desert scenery along the way.



The desert is getting ready to bloom


We didn’t have to walk too far before arriving at the secret location that only very special people get to see.  Frank explained that we were going to climb down into a slot canyon, a narrow canyon formed by water seeping through the rock layers.  If we were to go back there after this past weekend’s rain, we’d probably see water in the canyon, but on Thursday it was dry.

Frank explains what's coming next

We made our way down into the canyon with some of slipping and sliding on the loose sand and rocks . . . but everybody made it!

Into the slot canyon

As we walked into the slot canyon, the amount of greenery increased.  Frank explained that if we are ever lost in the desert, we should look for one of these green areas – they always indicate the presence of water.  Sometimes it may require some digging to get to it, but it would be there.

Listening intently

More geologic history from Frank


This particular slot canyon is located on a fault line, and it was seismic activity that caused the rock walls to horizontally shift against each other, creating the canyon.          Evidence of seismic activity

These smooth areas on the rock walls are evidence of this shifting.

Time for some rock climbing

A few in the group continued into the narrowing slot canyon, climbing over rocks and squeezing through crevices.

He could probably get back to the top this way!


Bryce and Nicolas could have kept going, although Frank said that the canyon continued to narrow and there was no real way out at the other end.

Now, how are you getting down?

Frank explains that chunks of rock could fall at any time

So, after studying the rocks and the plants for a few more minutes, we headed back out the way we came.

We have to go out the way we came

Climbing back out of the canyon was tricky for several in the group, and they were glad to have Nicolas and Bryce along to lend a hand!

Climbing out of the canyon!

Lots of helping hands











Back at the picnic shelter, we enjoyed our catered lunch and the appreciation of the Parks Department staff.

Director of Parks & Recreation

Our Park Supervisor & the Voluteer Coordinator



This is why we enjoy volunteering in public parks so much . . . they are always so happy to have the volunteers in the parks, and truly grateful for everything we do.  Plus, we feel like we are making a contribution to keeping these great parks available and affordable for the public to enjoy.

There were a few prizes raffled off (Bryce won 2 water bottles, and I won a jar of Arizona BBQ sauce and a silicone basting brush), and we all got a little goody bag from the county.

The last thing was the presentation of awards from the Lake Pleasant staff.  They made plaques for each of the volunteers – we got the “Team Player” award . . . I love the picture of the donkey!

Our award!

Now it’s March, and we have just one more month to go before we move on . . . and there’s still plenty to do before we leave!


  1. We all appreciate all the volunteers that make these parks so nice for the rest of us!! Great day and Great hike!! Thanks for volunteering:o))

  2. Thanks for your volunteer time. The award picture is really cute. Becki


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