- Expedition: Oct 14-19, 2002
- Turlock, Jill Kinmont Boothe, and Kingsburg High Schools
- Yosemite National Park
Another successful WildLink expedition is completed, as 10 students from Turlock and Kingsburg High Schools and Jill Kinmont Boothe School (Bishop) hiked a scenic 25 miles from Tenaya Lake back into Yosemite Valley. This expedition was the first of this year's Yosemite expeditions that will be co-led by Kristin Malone of Yosemite Institute. Joining the students as usual were WildLink Program Assistant Jocelyn Gretz and WildLink Intern (and former participant) Umar Abdulah.
Upon arrival the students spent one day in the valley, getting acclimated to the elevation and the beauty that surrounded them. Indian cultural interpreter Phil Johnson taught the students about the culture and customs of the Awanechee (Miwok) people in Yosemite. A few of the highlights included his demonstration of their musical instruments and their technique used to start fire. Students handled the obsidian that projectile points were made from and passed around the woven cradle baskets that they once used to carry their babies.
We left early Wednesday morning on a bus for Tenaya Lake. Cutting off all communication from the outside world, we embarked on our ambitious 25-mile journey back into the Valley. After a tough first day's hike we camped at Sunrise Lakes, which gave us an incredible view of the setting sun over the Sierras. After journaling about our challenges that we had that day, we feasted on burritos and listened to the first few chapters of the book The Education of Little Tree. The next day we woke and planned our route on the map, calculating our total mileage for the day.
Stopping mid-morning to identify the trees in the area, we found Jeffery and Lodgepole Pines in addition to Mountain Hemlock and Red Fir. We lunched at the now-vacant Sunrise High Sierra Camp where the students were happy to rest and pleased to find pit toilets. Continuing on our journey, we camped along Echo Creek, which turned out to be more like stagnant puddles than a creek. Nonetheless, the water was sufficient and we enjoyed ourselves around a candle-lit dinner, followed with an extensive round of telling jokes.
We started Friday off with a solo hike: Kristin led the line, with each student staggered behind her by five minutes each. This gave us all the time to reflect upon our surroundings in a more personal way, and at the end a poem was constructed, with each team member adding a line. At the end of the hike we shared our personal thoughts about the hike and the poem was read out loud.We continued our journey through the Merced River Canyon, which Kristin, in her second year in Yosemite, claimed was one of the most beautiful places she has seen in Yosemite. It was the first time all of us had experienced it - an incredible place to hike through and enjoy.
Our fourth and final day started out at dusk, leaving the Little Yosemite valley camp around 8:30 a.m. to get back to Curry Village by noon. Along the steep Mist trail the team worked together to get through some of the more daunting sections to reach their final destination. After doing GLOBE water sampling at Emerald Pool just upstream from the top of Vernal Falls, the team continued on to their end point.
In the final home stretch, each of us picked up pieces of granite and started pumping them like weights, as the numerous Saturday tourists stared at us in awe - no, the backpacks just weren't enough for this team to carry! At our final circle in the Curry Village parking lot we shared in discussion what things we would do and things we wouldn't do after going on this trip. For myself, I will definitely take the same route again, and bring other people with me to enjoy the beautiful Merced River Canyon.
Although nature's beauty encountered along the way is unforgettable, perhaps the most valuable aspect of the trip was the foundation of friendships between former strangers. Our culturally diverse bunch found friends in those least expected, and learned how to cooperate for the betterment of the team. Through 25 miles of backcountry hiking we stuck it out and ended strong - way to go team!
The sun kisses my face,
The wind whispers for me to listen with my heart.
I hear the birds calling my name,
Nature is all around me.
I hear wind blowing through my ears,
I see the wonderful signs of mountains.
And sounds of the winds you never would imagine.
Try to stand still and feel that wilderness.
Look at God's creation - it is all around you.
Be thankful he created it for you.
The mountains, the trees, nature is beautiful - it is surreal.
But chasin' tha' bear,
Without a single care
Living your life is sharing it.
Listen all around you.
It's the way that nature sounds.
And when you leave nature, the people who come after you should never tell.
For this treasure called Yosemite belongs to all.