MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif. - Six Marines from Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., hiked through the picturesque trails of Red Rock Canyon near Las Vegas, as part of an enlightening Single Marine Program trip, May 19.
SMP trips are aimed at boosting camaraderie and morale among Marines, explained Cpl. Austin Swesey, the SMP president on MCLB Barstow.
The goal of this trip was to educate Marines about wildlife, geographical features, and the history of the Mojave Desert. In addition, the Marines learned about future career opportunities in the geology field.
Red Rock Canyon is very unique, explained Marvin Saines, Ph.D., an interpretive naturalist and geologist. It’s very close to urban areas with more than 2 million people, yet it has more than 200,000 acres of unspoiled terrain. The area includes desert wildlife, mountains, and many different scenic trails to hike or drive through.
The hike was led by Saines, who has been a geologist for more than 20 years and has been researching and leading hikes through Red Rock for more than two years.
Saines said he is always happy and more than willing to guide and inform people through the trails of Red Rock.
“It is very important for people to know about geology,” he said. “The more information people have about the science, the more they will appreciate and protect the environment.”
“This trip was unlike others we have done in the past,” Swesey said. “It was very educational; Marines learned about geographic features as well as desert survival tips throughout the hike.”
The SMP plans to incorporate more professional military education for future trips, Swesey added.
“It’s great to build camaraderie while being educated,” said Lance Cpl. Jonathon Norita, the SMP vice president on MCLB Barstow. “Not only was it educational, but the hike was a fun way of doing PT (physical training).”
“It’s the uneducated people who deface the area with graffiti,” Saines said. “If they knew about the geology, wildlife and history they would have a deeper connection and protect Red Rock instead of trying to destroy it.”
The Marines all seemed very intrigued during Saines’ PME, explained Swesey.
“I learned a lot of things about the desert that I was unaware of,” said Lance Cpl. Kristopher Ezell, a wireman on base. “The desert survival tips given by the guide were very beneficial, but my favorite part was the recreational climbing.”
This was Saines first time leading Marines on one of his hikes. He explained that he was very impressed with their athletic ability and their eagerness to climb and explore the area.
During the hike, the Marines, led by Swesey, climbed one of the rocks and discovered a petroglyph that was yet to be discovered by the guide.
A petroglyph is a graphic, carved or pecked into rocks by Native Americans, hundreds if not thousands of years ago, explained Saines.
“It was great hiking with such athletic people. I would have never gone up that rock and saw the petroglyph if it weren’t for them,” Saines said. “It’s something that I will remember and point out to my future groups … if they can make it up that rock.”
“Barstow is a unique place within the Marine Corps and it offers Marines unique opportunities,” Swesey said.
He added that more Marines should take advantage of the program and explore what the High Desert has to offer.
After a fun and education filled day, the sweaty Marines packed up their hiking gear and headed back to Barstow where they boasted about their discovery and encouraged their fellow comrades to join in on future SMP excursions.