- Expedition: Mar 22-27, 2009
- Merced HS and Vista HS
- Yosemite National Park. Little Yosemite Valley.
Snow! What an amazingly beautiful way to start our trip. Armed with over boots and plenty of gear, we started up the trail. The trail up to Little Yosemite Valley is quite a challenge, especially when it is slippery and snowy. We soon realized that this was not a group of complainers as the students stoically faced the challenge set out before them. Still a little sleepy and nervous about trying something new, the first part of the morning was pretty quiet. That all changed when snowballs were discovered and every rest break turned into a battle field. We soon realized that Andy and Al were forces to be reckoned with as snowballs kept on raining down on us from the back of the line. The problem was that we could never catch them red handed.
We spent the greater part of our first day hiking to our campsite, so when we got there, we had just about an hour before dark to get our camp set up. After we had explored our new home and decided where to set up camp, we got to work putting up our tents. Because the ground was all covered with snow, we learned how to make dead men, or buried sticks wrapped with our tent cords, so that we could secure our tents to the ground. Meanwhile, dinner was being cooked so that when the tents were completed, we were ready to eat dinner. After debriefing the day learning how to sleep warm, we were all ready to go to bed!
Our destination for the day today was Brunel Cascades. After our very vertical hike from the day before, the hike out to the cascades was a lot mellower. Still slogging through wet snow, our progress was definitely not very fast, but spirits were high, and we were all committed to reaching our destination. Brunel Cascades, though small, is a pretty little cascade. The water coming off of it is surprisingly warm as it runs over sun baked rocks. We spent a little bit of time enjoying the falls before we headed back to camp. On our way back we spent some time thinking about the wilderness and what it means to us. When we got back to camp we had a little bit of free time while the cooks made us our delicious dinner. That was when we discovered this group’s obsession with the card game BS. Everybody would agree the Yia was the master BS player on this trip!
By a near unanimous decision, the group decided that our third day should be a reflection and relaxation day. We chose to climb up to the top of an unnamed dome close to camp to do some journaling. Because there was no trail, the climb up was challenging and a lot of fun. Gabriel was one of our most eager scouts, and took the lead figuring out which way would be the best for the group. The view from the top was wonderful, and even though we saw snow all around us, the sun was warm, and journal time was extremely pleasant. We chose to cut through the woods on the way back as well and found what seemed to have been an ancient and very non functioning bear bag hanging from a tree. Must have come from before the time that bear cans were required! When we got back to camp, we started collecting wood for our campfire that night, and had time for some free time. Some students started an impromptu game of baseball using sticks and pinecones that looked like a lot of fun. We finished the night off with a campfire where we remembered the good times and the hard times that we had on our trip. To finish off our campfire Gabriel told us a scary story that was more funny than scary.
We woke up on our last morning at the break of dawn to take down camp and start down the trail. We were amazingly efficient in the cold morning air, and we were on trail before we knew it. We took a little detour at the top of Vernal Falls for breakfast to give students a chance to enjoy the view from the top that they had worked so hard for on our fist day. That’s when our very slow decent started. The soft snow that we remembered from our first day had changed into hard packed and slippery snow so that every switchback was treacherous and took lots of time to navigate. There were times that we just plain sat down on our buts and slid down! When we got down to Curry Village there was Cynthia waiting for us with our lunch and a big smile. After finishing with our de-issuing of gear, we packed up the cars, gave each other hugs good bye and went back to our own communities as ambassadors for the wilderness!