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 2018-19 School Year
Year after year, Kingsburg students head to Yosemite to enjoy a week of adventure and relaxation with new and old friends. The 2018 group had the opportunity to trek to the beautiful and scenic Cathedral Lakes via the John Muir Trail.
The students arrived in Yosemite on Sunday evening to settle in and enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery in Yosemite Valley. After a day of packing and prepping on Monday, the group headed out on trail on Tuesday to start their ~3.5 mile trek to the Cathedral Lakes. Along the way, they experienced incredible vistas of Yosemite’s high country; the granite domes and mountain peaks shone dramatically in the changing light of the afternoon as they approached their base camp. After setting up camp and enjoying some much needed mac n cheese, the group tucked into their sleeping bags and tents to get some sleep after their strenuous uphill hike.
The following day, Kingsburg students and NatureBridge educators participated in backcountry stewardship projects led by Wilderness Ranger Wise. Ranger Wise facilitated litter pick up around the lake, and taught the group how to clean up and restore campfire rings that do not follow the Leave No Trace Principles that govern the Yosemite Wilderness. She also told the students a bit about what it’s like to be a Wilderness Ranger and how they can follow that career path if they so choose. Ranger Wise departed from camp in the afternoon, and students were able relax and spend quality time with each other for the rest of the evening. They were excited to be together in such a beautiful place, and for the opportunity to trade bright screens for bright stars.
On Thursday, the group emerged from their tents energetically to prepare for their challenge hike. After fueling up with a hearty breakfast, the group packed their day packs and headed on a journey to Budd Lake. The trail was rugged, which required students to support each other through steep terrain, river crossings, and wading in the lake. Eventually, they worked as a team to reach their destination. Budd Lake was surrounded by several dramatic rocky peaks, including Cathedral Peak, where they watched rock climbers scaling the steep cliff with harnesses and ropes. After a lunch seasoned with accomplishment and slight exhaustion, they started back downhill towards their base camp. Even with mattresses that were less than one inch thick atop a rocky ground, knowing and feeling the effects of their hard work helped the group sleep well that night.
Friday morning, students awoke and packed their bags for the trek back towards civilization. Although they were excited to shower and share stories of their experiences, there was a tinge of sadness upon leaving such a glorious place. Many felt a strong connection to the Yosemite Wilderness, and undoubtedly some will return to the park one day with family, friends, and new perspectives.