• Expedition: Oct 19-24, 2008
  • Pajaro Valley HS
  • Sequoia National Park. Emerald and Pear Lakes.

This year 7 students from Pajaro Valley high school came out saunter through the fall beauty in Sequoia's high country.


Soon after entering the park the students found that they were "bear prone" and started off their trip with 4 separate bear sighting, the most memorable happening at 2am the night before our expedition into the back country. Jasmine, Yasminn, and Fatima used the skills they learned the day before to help Nicky and Laura scare the bear away from our bear cans while Evelyn amazingly slept through it all! Regardless of the interrupted sleep, students efficiently got tents down and bags packed in time to get a nice and early start on trail.

Our first day on trail we had full packs, 5 miles to go, and 2,500 ft of elevation to gain. Two miles into the hike, the trail splits. The Hump trail is shorter, but the Watchtower trail has spectacular vistas of the Kaweah river valley. Under the leadership of David, our first fearless leader we got to the split with enough time to potentially take the longer but more spectacular Watchtower trail. When students were given the choice, they unanimously chose the longer, but more beautiful trail. Our lunch that day was at the watchtower with amazing views. After taking a quick after lunch siesta, we were back on trail. We got to camp with time to spare, and we were able to take their time setting up our tents and getting settled in. Our new home was by Emerald lake, a gorgeous mountain lake surrounded on three sides by sheer granite wall. After taking a breather, all the students agreed that even though the hike was hard and tiring, getting to Emerald lake made it all worth it.

On day two students were given the choice between a shorter ridge hike, and a longer canyon hike. Not surprisingly, the group chose the more challenging and longer second option. Our goal for the day was to get to Table Meadows by following the Kaweah river. There is no trail going up to these meadows, so Robert, our new fearless leader had to learn how to choose routes. With the help of his group members, he very successfully and safely chose a great adventure for all of us. Remembering Leave No Trace principles, students walked on durable rocky surfaces whenever they could. Our lunch spot for the day was at a little cascade. After lunch some students chose to take glorious naps on the warm rock while others took off their shoes to look for macro invertebrates in the little pond below the cascade. Everyone was in high spirits, and our hike back from the meadow went smoothly. That night we star gazed and learned about constellations from Nicky.

The next day was our reflection day. We took our time in the morning and ate a breakfast of eggs, hash browns, and sausage. Our goal for the day was to get to Pear lake and spend some solo time by the lake. Evelyn guided us to the lake, where Susan led us in a yoga session to get us into a relaxed frame of mind. Our afternoon was spent journaling and sitting by ourselves by the bank of the lake. The writings that came out of that time were pretty incredible. For our final evening meeting, we spent time writing appreciations in each other's journals, talked about the goals we had met, and discussed how we were going to be ambassadors for the wilderness in our communities. That night everyone decided to sleep out under the stars. After getting snuggled into their sleeping bags, the girls started their own synchronized sleeping bag routines. It was hilarious watching them in their matching teal sleeping bags.

Our last day we woke up at day break and got ready to hike back down. With lighter backpacks, and a mostly downhill trail, we were amazed by how quickly we were able to get back down. Back at the parking lot we took care of our gear, did a cinnamon roll group hug and said our good byes. Keep an eye out for these students as you are hiking in California, as I am sure you will see them on trail!

A special thanks to the Sequoia Natural History Association, Savannah Boiano and the NPS staff at Sequoia National Park for playing such an important role in this expedition!

map reading cooking view yoga sleeping bags dance sleeping bag dance II group
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