By Kristen Stivers – In January, a group of Jewell students and friends of Jewell led by Executive In Residence Don Huntington traveled to historic Rancho de los Caballeros in the upper Sonoran desert near Wickenburg, Arizona. Nestled in a unique ecosystem and framed by the Weaver Range, the White Range, McDowell, and Bradshaw Mountains the 20-thousand-acre guest ranch was founded in 1950 by Dallas Gant and his family and is owned and operated today by Dallas’ son, Rusty Gant. Los Caballeros, its environs and activities provided a splendid setting for Jewell students to experience “Jewell in the Desert”, a Journey Grant opportunity organized by Professor Huntington. The group of students included Stephanie Mullen, Lani Seaborn, Jiabei Sun, Chloe Kittle, Chris Smith and Josh Houck.
During their five-day visit, students participated in a variety of outdoor, team-building activities including horseback riding, hiking, trap shooting and team penning. Additionally, they enjoyed a docent-guided tour of the highly-renowned Desert Caballeros Western Museum and Gallery where they viewed the large collection of western and Native American art including works by Remington, Russell, Beeler, Bierstadt, Cassidy and many other notable artists and craftsmen. In the museum, they learned the history of the area including the discovery of gold by town founder Henry Wickenburg and the prolific Vulture Mine. Meal times presented the opportunity for discussing the events of the day while getting to know each other and sharing about their life experiences, families, hometowns and plans for the future.
Over a relaxing lunch one day, students talked with Ranch General Manager Rui Pereira about his experience in the ranch and hospitality management business, and gained a better understanding of the challenges associated with successfully operating the Ranch and the importance of historical and natural preservation. Not only were they able to enjoy the sunshine and 70 degree temperatures, they were able to get a look inside the business to understand how it is run and what it takes to keep it going.
A highlight of the trip was a challenging hike of Vulture Peak, an accumulated elevation gain of 1,340 feet over 2 miles from trailhead to summit. After arriving at the pinnacle, the Jewell team signed the BLM logbook and planted a WJC pennant.
Stephanie Mullen was excited to share her experience on the trip. Stephanie’s favorite part about the trip was horseback riding. “We got to ride along miles of trails in the desert and see the beautiful, quiet land. We had peaceful, slow rides, but also got to experience trotting and loping as well as team cattle penning. We encouraged each other while riding and looked out for one another. Just being able to hang out with Jewell students that I don’t on a normal basis in a place we have never experienced before was great. We learned to really enjoy each other’s company and new friendships formed and grew”. She ended by saying, “I would encourage students who are looking for a Journey Grant idea to consider Jewell In The Desert”.
The next Jewell In The Desert experience will take place in January of 2015 and students are encouraged to consider using their Journey Grants for this one of a kind experience. Jewell faculty and alumni are also welcome. For more information, see Jewell In The Desert.