Almost 2,000 hikes have been reported in the first few months of the Pajarito Environmental Education Center’s (PEEC’s) Passport to the Pajarito Plateau program.
This highly popular program is a fun way to get families outside, exploring the trails together. The program is a partnership between PEEC, Los Alamos County, Bandelier, and the Valles Caldera with generous support from the Delle Foundation.
Participants hike the trails in the passport (which are also included in PEEC’s free Los Alamos Trails app for iOS and Android operating systems) and look for a wooden post with a specially designed rubbing plate. Each trail has its own custom-designed plate, with artwork by Heather Ward. When the hikers find the post, they make a crayon rubbing of the plate to “stamp” their passports.
After 2, 5, 8, 12, and 16 hikes, they bring their passports to the nature center to record their hikes on the giant bar graph and receive their prizes. Kids are especially fond of the whistle/compass combination that they receive for 2 hikes; adults love the bandana printed with all the Los Alamos trails that is the prize for 8 hikes. Everyone covets the 12-hike prize headlamp, and the 16-hike prize is an adorable finisher’s patch.
Parent Roxana Candia tells us, “When I heard about the passport challenge, I loved the idea right away. I knew it was going to keep the kids occupied all summer. That was the plan anyway — but our adventure turned out a little differently!” Candia and her two sons, Anders (6), and Adrian (5), Medin, were among the first people to go up on the Finisher’s Wall in the Nature Center, completing all 16 trails in about two weeks!
Parent Laura Leitner says, “My boys loved their first hike and are totally psyched to do all 16! They keep asking when we can do another hike. I think the program is brilliant! They had a great time keeping their eyes out for the post and trying to guess where it might be. They saw chipmunks, a lizard, and even a hummingbird! Next time they will be taking their compass and whistle! Their prize for their first two hikes lead to a discussion about what the whistle is for and what the signal mirror is for, and what to do if you get lost in the wilderness.”
The program will continue past the summer, so there is still plenty of time to grab a free passport from the Nature Center and start hiking. A new “Hiking with Kids in Los Alamos” Facebook group gives families a chance to connect with each other to meet new hiking buddies. PEEC has also created a “Where are the Posts?” web page to help participants make sure they don’t miss one (http://peecnature.org/passport/where-are-the-passport- posts/).
For more information about the program, visit peecnature.org/passport, or stop in to the Los Alamos Nature Center at 2600 Canyon Road.