- Expedition: Oct 19-22, 2007
- Generation Green of Reedley and Orange Cove HS
- Sequoia National Park. Twin Lakes Trail
On October 19, members of the Generation Green program of Reedly and Orange Cove High Schools came together for an amazing four-day WildLink adventure in Sequoia National Park. Lead by Stephanie Strickland and Savannah Boiano, the group of twelve students and Forest Service chaperone, Francisco, hiked the Twin Lakes trail from the Lodgepole campground.
The group, organized by Generation Green Program Coordinator, Juana Roses, net Stephanie and Savannah in the foothills bright and early. Setting out on small hike, they got to know each other and bit about the park. Then the business of organizing an expedition began. First we thought about wilderness and what it means to us, then we divided into tent groups and learned how to set up tents and checked out our sleeping bags. After a tasty lunch, we were visited by Jenny Matsamoto. 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!
Back at the foothills recreation hall we learning about the wilderness Leave No Trace Ethic, and why it's important to follow the LNT guidelines to preserve and protect the wilderness places we were going to visit. Just as the rain began the rest of the gear and the food were distributed, and we learned how to pack it all in our backpacks! After dinner we headed up to the Lodgepole Campground.
Thankfully the rain abated a bit by the time we arrived at the campground. But we were thankful for the Kiva ponchos that helped us stay dry while we set up our tents in the drizzle. Though we needed our sleep, the anticipation for the journey we were on kept us talking late into the night.
The next morning was cold and clear. We made a fire to toast our bagels and learned how to light the stoves to heat the water for hot chocolate and cereal. Then we packed up our packs. Before we hit the trail we weighed the packs, just so we knew how strong we really were. Savannah helped us to get our wilderness permit, we stretched our muscles then hit the trail.
We spent most of the day traveling up hill through forests and around meadows. The view of golden Cahoon Meadow was awe inspiring. At the Silliman Creek crossing we learned how to use the water filters and ate our lunches. The rest of the hike to the top of Cahoun Gap (8,645") was very strenuous, but were proud of the fact we all made it and happy that we only had .6miles to go before camp. Upon arrival in camp, we set up our tents, changed in to warm clothes then set up our kitchens. After dinner we learned how to clean our plates and pots using duff and how to brush our teeth by spitting like sprinklers! We spent some time around the warmth of the campfire talking about the day we just had and our trip to Twin Lakes the following day. We retreated early to the warmth of our sleeping bags and a well deserved sleep.
The third day brought more sun and warmer temperatures. Nicole Ver, a wilderness ranger, joined us for breakfast. After breakfast we packed our day packs, stretched our tired muscles and started the two mile hike to Twin Lakes. We gained elevation much more quickly than the day before, but our packs were much lighter, making the journey just a bit more challenging. About halfway to the lakes we stopped on a warm, sunny granite slab and learned how to record scientific observations in our journals. Nicole then shared with us what her job consisted of.
Twin Lakes was worth every bit of energy we expended! The lakes were beautiful, clear and cold. We ate lunch and filtered water while Savannah searched for macro-invertebrates. We had to opportunity to get up close and personal with the few that she could find in the frigid lake. She also found a clam! We spent some time throwing snowballs into the lake (they float!!) before Stephanie taught us about reading a topographic map. After venturing over to see Little Twin Lake, we headed back to camp. Along the way we helped Nicole to disassemble a number of illegal campfire rings.
The evening started with collecting wood and learning how to build and start a fire. Dinner was started and Saul took over the job of making quesadillas over the fire. After cleanup we gathered around the fire and learned about the contribution the Buffalo Soldiers and Captain Young made to Sequoia National Park. We also reflected on our day, putting our thoughts and feeling in to poems about our experience thus far. Again the cold chased us to our sleeping bags early.
Our final morning was sunny and even warmer than the day before. We ate breakfast then packed our packs one last time for the journey back to Lodgepole. Before leaving our campsites we able to practice more of the LNT ethic and minimum impact camping by "sweeping" the places we used. We used fallen branches as brooms to disguise our tent sites and make the kitchen as natural looking as a well-used camp-site can look. Then we began our walk. We had the opportunity to spread out on the trail and walk "alone" but not alone. This enabled us to experience sites and sounds we had missed when traveling with our group. Most of us enjoyed it so much we wanted to walk that way the whole way out. And though that wasn't possible because of time constraints, we were a lot quieter the rest of the way, listening to the music of Mother Nature.
With a big smile on her face, Juana met us just above the trail head and walked the rest of the way out with us. We piled into our vans and headed to the Beetle Rock Education Center. The fall colors and amazing giant sequoia trees surrounded us as we unpacked our packs and checked in our gear. We spent some more time thinking and writing about how our journey had affected our view of wilderness and our roles in protecting wild places. After a quick grab of left over food, the students from Generation Green headed back to Reedly and Orange Cove, tired and very proud of all they had accomplished.
A special thanks goes out to Nicole Ver; We really enjoyed having you along. Your insight in to wilderness use and preservation was invaluable. And to Juana Roses. Thank you for your tireless work to organize the students of the Generation Green Program. We are thrilled with the interest they show in participating in WildLink.