• Expedition: Sep 15-20, 2013
  • Venture Academy
  • Yosemite National Park: Mono Meadow to Happy Isles

12 seniors from Venture Academy in Stockton, CA came together for a week of exploring Yosemite National Park's esteemed Wilderness. Due to the presence of the Rim Fire - the third largest fire in California state history - in the northwestern end of the park, the group rallied around the theme of "fire" and named their group "Backdraft." Highlights for the week included spirit walks, an off-trail adventure to Liberty Cap, story telling, solo time, and silly games, like the "Vegetable-Off."

9/15/13 - Day 1

We were very excited to arrive at Curry Village. The tent cabins were very nice, I actually thought that the tent cabins were going to be worse (guess not because they even had a heater). The base of Washington’s Column was awesome. It was a great experience. We had a lot of fun. We went under big rocks and because it was the first trip as a group it was exciting. The night was very cold, I didn’t think it was going to be that cold. In conclusion, I believe we are going to have a great time! Started from the bottom…

Group Earth Challenge

Team Backdraft works on a teambuilding challenge on their first full day in Yosemite.

Day 2

We woke up and we realized that we had heaters, we woke up at 5:00am and we saw the heaters. So we were struggling at night. Today we learned how to pack a backpack to go hiking the next day. That took most of today’s day but it was very important to learn how to pack. We also learned how to YUM! when we begin to eat. We slept really good cause of heaters.

Group About to Embark

About to embark on their backpacking expedition...still clean!

9/19/13 - Day 3

Today we start the hike, we woke up at 6:00am to shower and get ready, we met up and left at 9:15 and started the hike. It was cold and steep but we made it after a 5hr hike. After we set up camp and learned how to cleanse our skin with sand we made some hilarious memories. From rapping, from me falling off the bear can, and even watching a “naked man” being born from a tent. We ended the night with extreme laughter and cold toes, but overall we discovered we were becoming a close-knit family. AT most importantly we discovered Y.N.P. –Faviel “the underground rapper”

Group Bear

A wild black bear!


We went to Liberty Cap; it was amazing. Coming on this trip with so many thoughts in my head from stories people who have been here before was pretty nerve wracking and exciting. I think the nerves and my thoughts got to my body, but everything is truly amazing, the people, the views, the food which I have never ate before and so much more was great new experiences that made me grow as a student and a person. I really hope to come again and literally climb everywhere here although I am afraid of heights…I would also want to share this experience with others. I don’t regret coming because memories were made and I had such an amazing time. – Casandra

Patience, adventures, laughter, encouragement, memories, understanding, honesty, helpfulness, communication, great teamwork, TEAM, new life born! BACK DRAFT, leaders.

Group Trash

NPS Wilderness Ranger Kristin worked with the group to remove illegal campfire rings and clean up trash around the Little Yosemite Valley backcountry campground.

9/20/13 – Day 5

Today was the last day with everyone on the verge of arguing and passing out we made it. The views on the way down made us feel incredibly small. It’s good that we experienced this together, as a family. Although everyone was on the edge of killing me, we took a step back and noticed we made it together. With what Vic said on day one: started from the bottom…NOW WE HERE! Y.N.P. swag.

Group Hanging Out on Trail

Just another day in paradise.

Yosemite Rap – by Faviel

If you get stung by bees
I got the remedy
Me and my homies
chillin’ out in Yosemite

Hardest MC in the game
that’s ME!
Chillin’ with the hardest
crew that’s us Y.N.P.!

If I got some advice for
you, please don’t hate
How we made it here is
strictly by fate
No experience is ever the same
Being a family is how you play the game.


Group Ping


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