- Expedition: May 1, 2011
- Generation Green - Reedley High School
- Yosemite National Park: Hetch Hetchy
During the first week of May, seven adventurous students from Reedly High School's Generation Green enjoyed warm sunshine and beautiful trails on a trek to Rancheria Creek.
Monday, May 2, 2011: 1 mile
After arrival and orientation on Sunday night, Juana Rosas and six of her students from the Generation Green program began Monday morning with a series of introductions and a game involving blindfolds, designed to build trust and discuss responsibility. Afterwards, the participants took part in two meetings with National Park Service staff. The first consisted of obtaining the wilderness permit and learning about “Leave No Trace” ethics from and NPS Wilderness ranger. The second was a meeting with interpretive ranger Shelton Johnson, who emphasized the importance of being ambassadors for National Parks, particularly in their home communities and among people of color. After a quick lunch, WildLink staff led students in gear preparation and a lesson on how to correctly pack a backpack. After some free time and dinner that evening, the group walked to the auditorium to attend a program on bears in Yosemite.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011: 7 miles
After carefully packing bags one last time, the group met their WildLink educators in the parking lot for a caravan to Hetch Hetchy reservoir. Upon driving in, the group saw about 15 deer grazing around the road and sometimes crossing in front of the cars. After securing last minute items and assigning roles for the day, such as pacemakers (“Marco” and “Polo”) and cooks (“Martha” and “Stewart”), the group started on the expedition. Over the seven mile hike to Rancheria Creek, the group passed several waterfalls, learned how to identify (and avoid!) poison oak, discussed how to manage human waste, agreed on a team name (“Ding Dong Ninjas”), and talked about how to identify and prevent potential blisters. The group regretted passing a good lunch spot around noon as they struggled through poison oak-lined trails for a long stretch before finding another good spot among some rocks around 1:30pm. The temperatures were warm and many stream crossings were welcomed by the group. They arrived at Rancheria Creek, their home for the next three days, around 5:30pm and quickly learned how to select a campsite and how to set up the “Mid” tents. While some students collected water, others cooked or collected firewood for the fire. Later that evening, Jesse McGahey, a wilderness ranger, came and chatted with the students about “Leave No Trace” and his life as a ranger. The evening program focused on journaling about how backpacking feels like home.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011: 6 miles After a quick lesson on how to read and use maps, the group headed out on their mission for the day: LeConte Point, a formidable granite dome that loomed 1800 feet above camp. Two miles on trail brought them to their lunch spot, and after demolishing a bag of gummy worms, the group split and began the final section off trail. Several students remarked that they enjoyed off-trail travel for its interesting routes up boulder fields and over downed trees. After an exhausting climb, the Ding Dong Ninjas arrived at the summit, where they were able to rest for only a couple minutes before the lure of a patch of snow was too much to avoid. A raucous snowball fight and the creation of several snow creatures ensued and the group took many photos of the expansive vistas of both Hetchy Hetchy Valley and the greater Sierra Nevada. That night, after dinner, students brought sleeping pads up the hill to a clearing to go stargazing. The laser pointer was as entertaining as the constellation stories!
Thursday, May 5, 2011: 6 miles
Another sunny, beautiful day created an opportunity for a fun stewardship project on the way to Tiltill Valley. The recent storms had created a number of tree falls across the trail, so students enjoyed moving large branches as a team or breaking smaller branches off of trunks to clear the trail. The going was slow due to the amount of damage to the trail, but the group arrived to the beautiful and very flooded Tiltill Valley just before lunch time. After lunch, the expedition participated in an activity where they debated the merits of Hetch Hetchy Valley from the viewpoint of various stakeholders in the early 1900s. The hike down was much faster and the group celebrated by playing the game “Camouflage.” After dinner, the evening program consisted of three parts: S’mores, a discussion of what people had learned about other members of the group, and a talent show. The talent show was pretty spectacular for a group of only 9 people, including fortune telling, a magic trick, the game “Big Booty,” singing, and a twirling routine (using trekking poles).
Friday, May 6, 2011: 7 miles With a seven mile hike and a 2pm departure looming over their heads, the group woke up just before sunrise to get packing, eat a quick breakfast, and head on the trail. The cool morning was a welcome respite to the previous days of sweaty hiking. The Ding Dong Ninjas moved faster than any other day this week…until they hit Wapama Falls, which appeared as a raging torrent across the bridge! No one was spared the wrath of the cold spray and group sprinted to the nearest sunny spot to dry off. A little later, the expedition stopped for an early lunch and extended journal time, including a discussion of what wilderness meant to them and how they would take the experience home. After an exuberant jaunt through the bore tunnel at Hetch Hetchy dam, the group arrived, exhausted and proud, at the parking lot where they had started. Layers of dirt were removed, clothes were changed, and the group gathered one more time to reflect on what they would remember from the trip before heading home to Reedley.