• Expedition: Dec 5-10, 2004
  • Sunnyside and Merced High Schools - Richard Iglehart Memorial Expedition
  • Yosemite National Park: Merced Grove

The Richard Iglehart Memorial Expedition began appropriately with the arrival of a group of students as open as the winter blue sky that greeted them upon their arrival in Yosemite Valley. Once the group, comprised of students from Sunnyside High School and Merced High School, got acquainted Sunday evening, we spent some time taking those first steps towards the ultimate goal of finding our own definition of wilderness. We started with Webster's, and that was just the beginning!

Monday morning we spent time with Ranger Shelton Johnson, who taught us about subjects as minute as conifer needles fallen on the grass, and showed us how to connect them to the giant world around us.

On Tuesday morning the clear skies that had known disappeared behind a dense curtain of early winter snow that cloaked the world around us in pristine white. The snow continued to grace us on our hike to the magical and sacred grove of giant sequoias, the Merced Grove, and the very special cabin that would become our home for the next three days.

Once we were in the rhythm of life in our little cabin in the woods, Wednesday fairly flew by. We awoke to piles of new snow, and were joined after breakfast by Yosemite Institute Scientific Research Coordinator Todd Newburger, who led us through a very special "Sequoiaometry" session. We spent most of the day performing scientific documentation, mapping and measurements of the more that 40 giant sequoias in the Merced Grove, which were last surveyed in 1930! These measurements will be used to create baseline data to allow continued and progressive study of these rare trees growth over time.

We spent our final day among the giant sequoias as we hiked out Thursday, exploring the magic of the grove and saying goodbye to our friends and teachers, the big trees. We wrapped up the evening with talent-filled campfire that included everything from traditional folk tales, Thai dance, wilderness raps, happy birthday songs (and cake!) and sharing our memories.

Friday we were joined by special guest Judi Iglehart, wife of the late Richard Iglehart, whose memorial foundation made this expedition possible. She shared stories of Richard's long love of wilderness, and laughed and listened to our wilderness stories and experiences. It was hard to believe that all we had learned, experienced, and grown to love about the wilderness and each other had happened in a short five days. It was the kind of week you never forget, that gives you strength and energy for the rest of your life.

group creek

What I'll Most Remember: A Group Poem

Meet new people and get to know them.
The great time with friends are the different games of challenges.
Most of this is to work as a team.
Our goal will be accomplished.
What I see is the tree
What I feel is the white snow
This park, mark me in the place
That my face was crying to tear.
The fresh early morning air
That brushes into a smooth amount of air into my face,
And the morning freshness that fulfill my lungs.
The beautiful snow coming down from the sky over the mountains.
The feeling of peace and happiness.
All this is what I want to remember.
The snow falling and the stars we saw in the mountains.
The taste of the food we had for three days in the cabin in the mountains.
The freshness of the sequoia trees
And the burnt wood in the cabin.
The beautiful scene when walking at night
To see beautiful stars shine up so brightly.
And the noise of laughter in the cabin too.
The giant sequoia trees, because I don't usually see them in Merced.
It is big and very tall.
They will be mature in 800 years.
The fresh air and feel free, because I can stay alone and listen to the noise
And don't have to hear the car sound.
I feel happy because I don't have someone to tell me what to do.
I also feel lonely in the wilderness because there are less sounds that the city.
We worked with each other to build the national park of our dream.
The oatmeal that we ate,
Even though it was not tasty,
We enjoyed it.
The feeling I never want to forget
Is when you have friends that are there for you when you're down.
Deep breaths, HHHHHhhhhhhh,
Fresh pine tree, red wood, and dripping snow,
Oatmeal sweeting tang.
Warming body soothing in vines
Snow brighten the flesh of the soil,
Freedom of wildness
Freedom of Wilderness
I am Free
I sighted everything in the future
That I never seen before.
I tasted the food that we ever cooked together.
The tasted is not important, work together is the most important.
I smelled the sequoia trees.
We smelled the trips.
I feel the time is pass very fast
I feel sadly but I know the people will meet for to say goodbye.
It is impress time that I can't forget.
Gone but never forgotten.

leaf in frost students at cabin

To learn more about the Richard Iglehart Wilderness Foundation, click here.

giant sequoia
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