- Expedition: Jun 1-6, 2008
- Harbor City Boys and Girls Club and San Joaquin one.success program
- Yosetmite National Park. North Dome and Eagle Peak
Our eighth and final WildLink expedition of this year included seven students from the Harbor City Boys and Girls Club in Los Angeles and the San Joaquin one success program in Stockton.
By the end of the first day the students were beginning to get comfortable sitting out under the sun with granite domes and waterfalls surrounding them, and had experienced a frightening wildlife encounter: a ground squirrel.
Day two we headed out into Yosemite's backcountry and continued to get more comfortable with our new wilderness home. The combination of backpacks and snow patches forced the group to quickly create methods of coping with slick trail conditions. While some kept slipping and falling (the fall count broke twenty by the end of the trip), Johnny and Rich where slowly building their sliding skills. The ice was broken as a few dunked their heads into the ice melt creeks and students adapted walking sticks out of branches, some of which were used the entire time. That night we found a luxury camp with grand views of Half Dome, enjoyed our marshmallows, and watched as clouds enveloped the view in a mysterious fog. Despite the weather, Alyson proved bravest. She slept under the stars that faded in and out of view.
The next morning was cold and wet, but the prospect of summiting North Dome enlivened our spirits. After filling up our water from a mountain spring, we set out on our biggest day. The ridge to North Dome was magical, as passing clouds hid then revealed Tenaya Canyon and Half Dome as we approached the summit. We quickly arrived at the summit of North Dome, where we could admire the valley below and Half Dome right across the gaping drop to the valley. If weren't for the winds, we would have gladly stayed there all day.
We continued across many drainages. At one crossing, despite slipping and dancing from one slippery rock to another, La's foot plunged into the creek. While her foot was wet her face was smiling. Johnny was the best at spotting animals always showing and taking pictures of several birds. It also seemed as there was always a deer walking near our group, some growing new antlers.
At camp that second night we settled in and dried out our gear. We spent the evening overlooking the valley, right next to Yosemite Falls. We watched the water descend the drop down to the valley floor at sunset. The mountains were veiled in magenta alpenglow.
The next morning, after getting sidetracked, the students got their bearings and found their way to the summit of Eagle Peak. The way was steep, and the group was tired, but slowly and surely they made it---but not before seeing a coyote.
Meditative walks turned into snowball fights and Ned got sniped by Quis as he tried to battle a determined Rich. Before we started on the way down from Eagle Peak, we were surprised by Pedro, chaperone from Harbor City Boys & Girls Club, who had made the journey up from the Valley to visit us for an hour or so. We settled into an evening of games: Koob, cards, and quesadillas. Angelina and Johnny started making fire crafts, some of which were sabotaged by Ned. Sorry about the spoon Angelina!
That night the stars were out but everyone went to bed early, excited for their last day of hiking. As the stars faded we awoke to make an early departure. The steep Yosemite Falls trail was a beautiful end to our trip as the waters of Yosemite Falls towered above. Surprisingly, we were at the valley early and tired. Yet there was still one more surprise left: before we loaded up on the bus, La and Ms. A decided that they hadn't quite had enough and walked the rest of the way back to Curry! Solid work ladies!
We're not too sure if the group is confident with squirrels yet, but I can say that over the 16 miles we covered most felt amazed, accomplished, and thankful for their hard days in Yosemite.
Students had limited journal time due to the long, demanding days of the expedition, but following are a few excerpts from those students who did find the time to write in between camp tasks, resting, and hiking:
Lala: Well the things I have enjoyed were camping out in the wild, not knowing what would happen. I also liked the hiking, but not going uphill. I also enjoyed doing things I never thought I would do. This trip was very special to me...
Marquis: This trip overall so far has been an experience I will never forget.
Angelina: How to change my community: First, I can try to convince people to come to Yosemite so they can get a change of heart like I have and learn what I learned so they would want to change our environment. I think this whole trip was worth it, yeah, it was hard work and took a lot of effort to climb up these mountains but something good comes out of the hard work.