• Expedition: Sep 12-17, 2010
  • Turlock and Pitman HS
  • Yosemite National Park

"Tuesday was our first day in the wilderness. We had an early morning having breakfast at 7am in Curry Village and being packed and ready to go on the bus at 8:30. It was an hour drive to the wilderness . Once we entered the wilderness, we hiked five miles to Sunrise Lake. Everyone was very tired, being that it was our first day hiking and getting used to the high altitude and carrying heavy backpacks. Once we got to our campsite we learned to set up tents and unpacked everything. Dinner was raviolis and tortellini with tomato sauce and spices. After, we learned to brush our teeth in the wild and got ready for bed. All but three people slept outside of their tents to enjoy viewing the beautiful stars in the night sky before falling asleep." ~Angelica

The next day we set out early on our dayhike, hoping to make the summit of a mountain called Cloud’s Rest. At first we felt fast and light hiking without our backpacks. We talked and sang and laughed our way up, higher and higher, until reaching the long granite ridge that would lead us to the top of the mountain. Many of us were pretty scared of the heights up there, so in a single-file line we carefully made our way along the granite rocks, sometimes using our hands for balance. With courage and encouragement, we made it to the top of Cloud’s Rest at nearly 10,000 feet. The view from up there made us all feel like we were on top of the world! In every direction we could see Yosemite’s pristine beauty. As a special treat, we celebrated our accomplishment with a snickers bar for each of us. Unfortunately it was already late in the afternoon so we didn’t get to spend too much time up there before starting our hike back to camp. We raced the darkness back, getting to camp just in time to start dinner and a fire while taking in the sunset. That evening we celebrated our summit adventure with dinner and s’mores around the campfire.

On our third morning we began the day with an in-depth wilderness lesson. We discussed the history of land protection, the differences between the different levels of protection, and wilderness ethics. To put our new knowledge into practice we then worked on a wilderness restoration project right in our very own campsite. Wilderness Ranger Naomi Chakrin taught us about the campfire regulations in Yosemite and then led the group in removing a poorly located campfire pit (oops, it was the one we had just used it the night before!). Although this ring was already a previously existing campfire ring and therefore legal to use, it had been built directly on granite bedrock rather than earth. Repeated use of it was permanently scarring the bedrock surface. With Ranger Naomi’s direction, we demolished this ring, hiding and scattering ash and burnt stones, and completely disguised the scarred rock using decomposed granite pebbles and forest duff. It was incredible that by the time we had finished, you really couldn’t tell that there had been a firering in that spot before. However, since this was a popular camp spot we knew that there needed to be an appropriate fire ring available. Our group selected a new, more appropriate location, and using materials from the original fire ring, we effectively “relocated” the old fire ring. It was incredible to see how our group effort would both protect Yosemite’s natural resources and encourage responsible use in future visitors.

Once our stewardship project was complete, we packed up camp and geared up for a long hike to our

next campsite. The hike today would take us six miles, ending at a spectacular ridge with amazing views of Cathedral Lake and the northern areas of the park. It was a long and difficult hike, with lots of uphill throughout the day. It was also a gorgeous trail which passed all three Sunrise Lakes and the Sunrise High Sierra Camp before flattening for a while through pristine meadows lined with jagged granite peaks and finally bringing us to Upper Cathedral Lake. We set up camp high on a ridge overlooking lower Cathedral Lake and enjoyed our delicious last dinner before snuggling into our sleepingbags to watch the stars overhead .

Our last morning was an early one. We woke up just as day was breaking, and we quickly packed up camp and ate a quick no-cook breakfast before hitting the trail one last time. Those four miles to the trailhead went by fast and easy, our bodies strong, our packs light, and the trail almost entirely downhill. We met some nice hikers who gifted us fresh bananas and grapes, and as we waited for the bus to pick us up we had time for one last journal reflection on our adventure. Good job Turlock and Pitman WildLink club students on accomplishing a challenging route and thanks for a great expedition!

WildLink is a proud partner of the National Park Service, National Forest Service, and Nature Bridge.