- Expedition: Oct 10-15, 2007
- SEKI: Turlock
- Sequoia Kings Canyon N.P.
On November 12, 2007, nine students from Turlock High School joined WildLink instructor Stephanie Strickland for a four-day expedition in Sequoia National Park.
Ryan Hollister, a science teacher at Turlock High and amateur photographer, joined the expedition as a chaperone. We met in the foothills at the southern entrance of the park and spent the afternoon organizing our gear for the trip. We learned how to set up a tent, and how to pack our backpacks. At about mid-day we were visited by Jenny Matsumoto. With Jenny we learned about Wilderness and the many people that have fought to preserve wild places. We also visited with Heather Dumais, one of the NPS air quality specialists. Heather shared with us some of the many studies that are done within SEKI (Sequoia / Kings Canyon National Parks). She even allowed us to help with the changing of one of the air quality filters!
We returned to the rec. center to check out the menu WildLink had in store for us, choose our cook groups and finish packing up. Then we cooked up a tasty dinner of turkey dogs and mac and cheese with a healthy dose of Tapatio! Finally we hit the road, heading up to Lodgepole to set up camp near the trailhead. As we gained elevation, the rain started and the temperature dropped making for a wet, cold camp set up.
Thankfully, when we woke, the sun was shining, warming the air and drying the ground. After learning how to light our stoves, we enjoyed a breakfast of bagels toasted over a campfire, hot cereal, and hot chocolate. We again packed our packs and then learned about the backcountry ethic of Leave No Trace.
We then began our hike to Clover Creek, 4.8 miles from Lodgepole on the Twin Lakes trail. Along the way we laughed, chatted, and watched deer eating in the meadows. At Silliman Creek we learned how to use the water filters and ate lunch. Once moving again, there was much less talking and laughing, because the trail became quite steep. Stephanie thinks she even heard some whimpering. Our rewards included a beautiful view of Cahoun Meadow. We arrived at camp in time to set up our tents, build a fire and get dinner cooked. We enjoyed a beautiful, cold evening by the fire and went to bed early.
On the third day we packed our day packs and headed up the trail toward Twin Lakes. We travel through beautiful forest and across granite slabs. The dry cascade that is usually Clover Creek was a potent reminder of the dry winter past. We spent the morning learning to seeas scientists, recording our observations in our journals. We also learned a bit more about he geology of the region and how to read a topographic map.
On the way back to camp we had the opportunity to walk alone on the trail. Well, not really alone, but sort of. We all agreed it was a profoundly relaxing experience and, after lunch, spent more time sitting alone. Some of us wandered up the creek bed with Mr. Hollister as he searched for fish. He actually caught (and released) a few, but the big one got away.
Again we had a relaxing evening around the fire. We spent some time putting the day's experiences into word and poems sharing those with each other. We had a great conversation about ways we share the wilderness and the importance of preservation with the folks back home, and headed to our warm sleeping bags when the temperature dropped.
On our final day we woke to more sun, and warmer temperatures, thankfully. We ate breakfast, packed our packs, and then cleaned house. Using our Leave No Trace tools, we swept the"bedrooms" and the kitchen so it wasn't obvious we had been there. Then we started walking out. We enjoyed a beautiful morning in the forest.
Because of the delays caused by road construction, we had time to visit the Giant Forest Museum on our way out of the park. We learned about the ecology of the Giant Forest and specifically the giant sequoia trees. We even got to "climb" the Sentinel tree. As we left the park we had amazing views of Moro Rock, Castle Rocks and the beautiful fall colors. I was a wonderful closing to a wonderful trip. Thanks to all who helped make it happen.