Into the Wild
WildLink Expeditions give students the opportunity to experience wilderness firsthand. Since August 2000, more than a thousand students have discovered the wonder of the Sierra Nevada. Students are chosen from high schools and community programs located on the flanks of Yosemite in the Central Valley, Eastern Sierra, and San Francisco Bay Area. On six-day backpacking expeditions, students learn about the natural world first-hand, challenge themselves, and gain an understanding and appreciation for wild places.
Students explore their place in the wilderness; how their actions impact our environment; environmental science through hands-on research projects; the cultural history of Yosemite and their surrounding areas; geographical history; natural history; and possibilities for all of our futures. Students learn what they can do as individuals while developing teamwork and leadership. They will meet other students from different social and cultural backgrounds and will learn to work together to meet the social, philosophical and physical challenges of wilderness. Follow the links or visit the archives to read excerpts from student journals and view photographs of recent expeditions.
Words From the Field
"In the beginning of this trip I was regretting agreeing to come on this trip. I felt like physically I couldn’t do it and also because of how people reacted to me coming. It was hard the first day. I was crying a lot on the way up. Day two I made it to the top and was very satisfied with myself and the experience. Being here has made me appreciate everything that has been given to me and my family. It was way harder that I thought but I made it and it makes me feel so accomplished, so free, so strange, and so alive. I no longer regret coming. I also will never forget the view or the way I felt standing up on the top of Cloud’s Rest. I wish to remember the people I shared this experience with and this wonderful mountain. It will be in my heart always as a symbol of my strength and happiness."
Our Latest Program in 2017-18 School Year
This group handled the elements of Mother Nature with strength and determination! They faced some big challenges, and learned a lot about their ability to work together and overcome anything.
Our WildLink group from New Village Girls Academy in Los Angeles join us in Yosemite on a beautiful yet brisk Monday morning. We started the day hanging out with Ranger Shelton Johnson, hearing the story of how he wound up in Yosemite working for the National Park Service. After feeling inspired and eager to experience the wilderness of Yosemite, we dove into the infamous gear shuffle. Educators Tamara and Juliet spent ample time explaining what all the different items are used for and why we bring certain things with us into the backcountry. After a long day of packing, learning, and bonding, Elizabeth lead the group on a night hike. We walked around the valley, watching the alpine glow on half dome and we took time to capture the beauty of the valley via watercolor.
On Tuesday morning the group eagerly woke up, ready for a day of adventure! They were greeted with cool temperatures, foggy skies and anticipated rain. They started their journey up toward Little Yosemite Valley, on their way they encounter tough trail conditions, consisting of slushy snow and ice. At this point the group was really testing their strength and determination to continue the climb. Eventually the group made it to a camp spot, arriving late, tired and wet. They set up camp, ate dinner and easily fell asleep to the sounds of rain on their tents. The next morning, with incoming severe weather and flash flooding, the group packed up and came back down. They spent the rest of the week in Half Dome Village experiencing some of the other things Yosemite has to offer. They day hiked around Yosemite Falls, and explored the informational Valley Visitor Center.
All in all, this group experienced what the real wilderness can do. It can be powerful, harsh, and sometimes you just have to turn around and be proud of what you did accomplish. That is exactly what these girls did, they showed high levels of strength and determination. They faced multiple challenges along the way, however they overcame them with grace and ease.