- Expedition: Oct 5-10, 2008
- San Joaquin one.success program and Environmental Studies Academy
- Yosemite National Park. Sunrise to LYV.
Students from Stockton's San Joaquin one.success program joined students from the Environmental Studies Academy in Martinez for our second WildLink expedition of the year.
We headed out on a crisp fall week and continued the trend of beautiful weather, lots of laughter and spectacular views. Our first morning began at the Sunrise trailhead, where we made all the finishing touches before hitting the trail. Our leaders that day had a tough job keeping us all motivated and hiking as the trail got steep and our packs were super heavy! Along the way we saw our first patches of snow (the first sign of the cold nights and even colder mornings that were waiting for us all week) and had the first of many snowball fights. Reaching the pass that afternoon we were so thankful that the uphill was done for the day! We enjoyed a well-deserved long break and the ‘8 D's of dumping' class before hitting the trail again. We cruised downhill for the rest of the way and finally came to our camping spot for the night. "Martha" and "Stewart", our chefs, made us a spectacular dinner of pasta alfredo before we all got warm and chatty in our sleeping bags. A few of us even slept out under the stars our first night!
The next morning we woke up still a little tired but very excited for the day's adventure. After breakfast we got our daypacks together and were amazed at how light and fast we felt as we joined the trail again. Our goal that day: the summit of Cloud's Rest. We were all challenged that morning by the relentless uphill but found our inner determination, strength and courage along the way. We were also rewarded with gorgeous views of the high mountains and alpine lakes that revealed themselves slowly as we gained elevation. As we approached the summit and walked carefully along the summit ridge, we relied on one another's support, encouragement, and even steady hands to make it to our goal all together as one team. At 9,926 feet above sea level, Cloud's Rest offered an amazing 360 degree view of Yosemite's wilderness, the eastern face of Half Dome, down into Yosemite Valley and all the way past the Sierra foothills and across the Great Central Valley to the faint ridges of the Coastal mountains in the distance. It was quite a feeling of accomplishment to be able to look out from our stance and see across the state of California to each of our home communities. We took our time getting comfortable at such a high elevation and enjoying the summit view, taking lots of pictures and just breathing it all in. We even ate our messy sunbutter and jelly picnic lunch on top before taking time to reflect on the experience and share its meaning and lessons with one another. Heading back to camp for the night, we could all agree that the hard work had been well worth the effort that day. To add even more rewards to the day, we had a rare sighting of a porcupine, a first for even the instructors!
On our third day we packed up camp and our big packs again and hit the trail for our longest day of hiking yet. Our bodies were strong and our packs a little lighter since two days of meals had already been eaten, so we walked fast and easy along the nearly seven and a half miles of wilderness trails. That night in the Little Yosemite Valley campground we celebrated our achievements and our group around the campfire. We ate s'mores, played the hilarious rubberband game, and even shared some deeply personal thoughts and stories with one another. It was a meaningful way to spend the last night in the wilderness together. On our final morning we woke up just as dawn was lighting up the sky to pack up and head out on the cold trail to Nevada Falls. A mile later we enjoyed breakfast on top of the waterfall with the sun warming the rocks around us. We also took time to reflect upon the leadership we had developed and worked on during the trip—are you an architect, a relationship master, a driver, or a spontaneous motivator? As we hiked the final miles of our expedition, brutal downhill along the Mist Trail past both Nevada and Vernal Falls, our group once again showed its leadership and generous spirit by helping those of us whose bodies were finally tired and worn from such a big adventure. Thank you to everyone for working so hard and sharing in this incredible experience together!