- Expedition: Feb 21-26, 2007
- East, Pinedale and Fresno Boys and Girls Club
- Yosemite National Park: Badger Pass to Dewey Point
Much like the trusty postal service, not even winter conditions can inhibit a WildLink group from going on an expedition! This February, ten young men from East, Pinedale, and Zimmerman branches of the Fresno Boys and Girls Club came to Yosemite to get their first experience winter camping.
Our first snowy day was spent in Yosemite Valley, getting to know one another and preparing ourselves with all the necessary clothing and equipment for the expedition. We were joined that morning by Park Ranger Sam Vasquez, who hails originally from Fresno himself. He spoke with us about his own path into the park service, from his childhood in Fresno, to an internship in Glacier National Park in Montana, and ultimately to his current career with the Public Involvement and Outreach program in Yosemite. Thanks, Sam, for taking some time to share your story with us.
The next day we loaded ourselves and our equipment onto a bus that took us up to the Badger Pass Ski Resort, the oldest in California. From there we strapped on our backpacks, our snowshoes, and, pulling three sleds of gear, began our snowshoe expedition along the winter cross-country trail of the Glacier Point Road. The fir trees that lined our path were beautiful, heavy with fresh snow from the storm that had dumped all the previous day and night. We hiked about a mile before stopping for lunch—and nearly froze our fingers within the short time we were sitting to eat! We then headed off trail into the fresh snow (really difficult hiking!) and continued for about another mile, ending up in a spectacular open meadow that would be our camp for the next two nights. We quickly set up a kitchen and learned to put up our tents before the sun set and the real cold began. To keep warm, our six shovels were quickly put to good use--building a snow shelter and impressive forts in anticipation of a first-class snowball fight.
That night was really cold (the snow even squeaked when you walked), and the next morning we had a lazy morning warming our feet in the sunshine. After breakfast we prepared small daypacks with warm layers and water, learned about topographical map reading, and then put on our snowshoes once again for a two-mile day hike. With blue skies overhead, we followed the orange and yellow trailmarkings in the trees along the cross-country path to Dewey Point. From this spectacular view point on the southern rim of Yosemite Valley we could see down into the Valley, across at El Capitan, into the Sierra foothills to the west, and to the east we were even able to see the snow-covered peaks of Yosemite's high country. Just as the clouds rolled in to obscure our views, we grabbed our things and headed back for camp at record speed. We enjoyed hot chocolate and make-your-own-burritos that night before heading to our tents just before the snow started falling again.
Sunday morning we awoke to more than eight inches of fresh snow, and still falling! We packed up camp quickly, ate a quick breakfast, and began the difficult hike back to the trailhead. Hiking through so much fresh snow is really challenging and takes an enormous amount of strength and endurance, both physical and mental. Great job, everyone, and an especially big thank you to everyone who pitched in to help the group succeed in such challenging conditions!