- Expedition: Aug 5-10, 2012
- HOPE - Helping Other People Excel
- Yosemite National Park: Sunrise Lakes and Clouds Rest
Nine students from the greater Pasadena area enjoyed their first experience in Yosemite National Park, experiencing the solitude and quiet of its backcountry, interacting with rangers, and getting inspired to make changes back home.
Upon arrival in Yosemite National Park, the students from HOPE (Helping Other People Excel), students settled in to NatureBridge's Crane Flat campus for a day and a half of getting accustomed to the altitude, receiving the gear to go backpacking, and learning necessary skills. One particularly inspiring session was meeting with ranger Shelton Johnson to talk about goal setting and overcoming challenges.
On the third day, the students headed east toward the Sunrise trailhead at Tenaya Lake. Once there, they fitted their backpacks, took a deep breath, and headed up the dusty, steep trail toward the Sunrise ridgeline. "The day started off easy when we first started going on the trail, but after we made our way more deeper in to the wilderness, things became more difficult," wrote Jordan. The group struggled on the climb, but they tried to keep each other positive and each student persevered to make it to Upper Sunrise Lake.
On the second day, the students felt tired from their climb from the day before, but they loaded up a couple of lighter day packs and headed down the trail toward Clouds Rest. Conversation among friends and reminding each other of the rewards ahead kept students focused on their goal, which they reached just before noon. They were thrilled to make it to the top and they marveled that camp was so far below them. Lunch tasted particularly good on this day. On the descent down, wilderness ranger Cameron met up with the group and took some time to introduce himself and get to know the students. He joined the group for dinner that evening and camped nearby.
On their final day in the backcountry, students took time to give back to Yosemite with a stewardship project, led by ranger Cameron. Together, they cleaned up trash and removed illegal campfire rings to make Upper Sunrise Lake a more natural wilderness experience for future visitors. Afterwards, students took some quiet time to journal and reflect on the experiences of the previous days. (Check out their writings in the links to the left!) After packing up, students headed back down the trail. Some were happy and some were sad to be leaving, but all of them felt accomplished at what they had done.