- Expedition: May 11-16, 2008
- Venture Academy
- Yosemite National Park. LYV to Cloud's Rest
WildLink's seventh expedition of the year went out in Yosemite's backcountry on a gloriously sunny and hot week with students from Stockton's Venture Academy.
From our base camp in Little Yosemite Valley campground, we were poised for dayhikes to both steadily growing waterfalls and a high peak. But first, we had to get to our first night's backcountry camp by hiking up and out of Yosemite Valley, a steady uphill hike along the John Muir trail that gained 2,000 feet before we found our home away from home for the next three nights. Rested and relaxed in camp that night, we took advantage of still being somewhat clean to have a photo shoot (notice our clean face and log shots), then enjoyed our well-deserved dinner before all collapsing in bed with Half Dome watching over us.
On our second day, we prepared for a day hike (Yes, no backpacks!) along the Merced River Canyon. We spent some time in the morning studying the topographic maps and thankfully discovered that our intended hike to the Bunnell Cascades would barely climb 200 feet. We enjoyed ourselves, walking fast with light day packs, and had some good conversations along the way. We watched the Merced River go from wide and seemingly calm to a raging torrent as it cut through the narrowing granite canyon. After lunch and Leave No Trace skits (also known as the Loving Nature Theater), we decided to test both the water and ourselves, holding our feet under water until we couldn't handle the cold burn any longer. We discovered that Christina and Anthony definitely had the most determination (and numb feet) of us all! That night we all slept out under the stars together; well, except for Eric, who slept half in and half out.
Our third day was our most ambitious day yet. Despite waking up early, our group was super motivated and made the impressive choice to attempt the summit of Clouds Rest. Our mountain goal stood six miles and nearly 4,000 feet away from camp. With the leadership of Demetric and Juan, we set out for the day's adventure. We hiked and hiked, gaining views of a snowy Mt. Clark in the distance and wrapping around to stare at the sheer face of Half Dome from the east. With some sweat, a few tears, and lots of group motivation, we arrived at the summit of Cloud's Rest at 9,926. The view from the summit was breathtaking-snowcapped mountains and Yosemite's wilderness in 360 degrees, as well as the east face of Half Dome and the meadows of Yosemite Valley down below. We enjoyed the top, the view, and our accomplishment before starting the long walk back down to camp. That night as we lay in our sleeping bags after a campfire and s'mores, we all felt that we had shared an impressive feat together that day.
On our last morning we packed up, got out of camp as the sun rose, and enjoyed the top of Nevada Falls over breakfast. We ended our expedition descending Yosemite's famous Mist Trail where we got drenched rather than misted by Vernal Falls.