• Expedition: Apr 27 - May 2, 2008
  • Merced HS and Environmental Studies Academy
  • Yosemite National Park

On March 29th , six students from Merced high school, and six students from the Enviromnmental Studies Acadamy (ESA) of Martinez set off on our sixth WildLink expedition of the year.


With overboots strapped on to our packs, we were ready for anything that the Little Yosemite Valley might have in store for us. The day was warm and the patches of snow tucked into the shady places along the way were useful for cooling down.

Leading a large hiking group is not easy, and students got a chance to practice their leadership skills as they took turns setting the pace and deciding when to take breaks. Even when the going was tough and we weren't sure if we were going to make it up the stairs to the top of Nevada Falls, the leaders did a fantastic job of keeping the group positive and focused.

Our first day was long and we got into camp just before dark. Students quickly learned how to set up camp so that we could sit down for a well-earned dinner of ravioli. When dinner was finished and dishes were done, it was time for the whole group to learn how to brush their teeth back country style. There were only a few casualties as we all learned to spit sprinkler style!

Day two started off with a yoga circle led by Rona, the ESA teacher and chaperone on our trip. As we did sun salutations by the river we all felt just a little bit more connected to our new home in the woods. We did a little map reading and set off down the trail with just our day packs to explore the Merced River canyon and our destination, the Bunnell Cascade. On the way we came across some impressive purple bear scat that looked like is was full of manzanita flowers. When we came across the next manazita bush, we all tried some of its pretty blossoms and found out just why the bear was eating these little pink treats-they're sweet! We also surprised several snakes along the way. We ended the day by sitting around a big fire sharing stories about our lives. By the end of day two we had gotten to know one another better and began to really feel like a family.

The next day our goal was to get up to the shoulder of Half Dome. Armed with water bottles and lunch, we set off down the trail. Being on the shoulder of Half Dome was probably the highlight of our trip. The views were fantastic, and because there were so few people up there we were each able to find our own private spot to sit and journal, think about what wilderness means to us, and take a quick little nature nap. On the way down we found some great patches of snow for sliding and snow "fun". We ended our day with another campfire and went to bed early because we had a sunrise wake up to look forward to the next day. All of the students decided that they didn't want to bother with tents in the morning, so we packed the tents up and all slept out for our last night in the wilderness together.

Getting ready the next morning was easy. We packed up and left camp before breakfast so that we could have our cereal at the top of Nevada falls, probably the best breakfast spot ever! We were all in awe of the raging waterfall. We also took some time to reflect on our experience and commit ourselves to becoming wilderness ambassadors in our home communities. We then continued down, taking the mist trail all both Nevada and Vernal falls, enjoying the misty shower and personal rainbows that followed us home.

friends welcome snowman friends by the river
WildLink is a proud partner of the National Park Service, National Forest Service, and Nature Bridge.