A Week in Yosemite

Michael Pasaye, Writer

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The annual Yosemite trip led by AP Environmental Science teacher Mr. Kim began on Jan. 21 and ended on Jan. 25. The trip consisted of 50 APES students and a few chaperones including: Dr. Quintero, Ms. Foley, Mr. Huber and Mr. Hwang.

 

The trip began at the Downey High School parking lot where students packed into the charter bus at 8:30am, starting their eight hour drive to the national park. On the way there, the students had two pit-stops where they were able to relieve themselves and grab a bite to eat.

 

Once the bus arrived at Yosemite, the students were met by Nature Bridge (the company hosting the trip) representatives who led them to their cabins and informed them on the rules for the week. Most students had a small wooden cabin to call home for the week, but a few students were given walled tents with a wooden platform.

 

The next morning, students woke up at 6:30am to begin their first adventure on the trip. Students were divided into trail groups that consisted of 12 students and two chaperones, including a designated Nature Bridge educator who led the groups around the park. The groups were also given the task of completing a scavenger hunt created by Mr. Kim. The group that completed the most objectives on the scavenger hunt would be rewarded with a bowling party at Del Rio Lanes. After the trail groups were situated, they ventured off into the park for their first hike of the week.

 

These hikes allowed the students to explore the park and experience the beauty of nature. During the first hike, students scrambled over rocks and ventured through caves. One of the caves explored was given the nickname “Bear Cave” by the Nature Bridge staff, as there had been sightings of a bear family nearby. Along the hike, students also found patches of snow where they were able to make snowmen, snowballs, and snow angels.

 

Senior Mikaela Posada’s trail group entered a different cave given the nickname “Spider Cave”.

 

“My exploration of the spider cave was very interesting,” Posada said. “At first glance, I was terrified of entering a dark cave through what seemed like the smallest crack in the ground; I didn’t think I was going to make it down there, but my leader was very positive and encouraged me so I had the courage to enter the cave.”

 

The second day of the trip consisted of a short bus ride farther up the valley. Once the buses stopped, the students were greeted with a snowy field. Equipped with snowshoes, the trail groups ventured off into the snowy forest. The hike led the students to a meadow full of snow where a snowball war took place that lasted about half an hour.

 

Miguel Solis, 11, was not much of a fighter during the battle, but had a hand in creating cover for his fellow teammates to protect themselves with from the onslaught of snowballs.

 

“When I first got to the meadow I wanted to build a fort like Spongebob,” Solis stated. “ I ended up investing my time into building the fort rather than the actual fight and by the time I finished the fortress, the battle was over, but I still got a couple headshots at the end.”

 

The last day of exploration consisted of another hike where one trail group walked up to a ridge that gave a full view of the valley and one of the waterfalls that the park has to offer. On that ridge, the students were given the opportunity to paint what they wanted with the use of watercolors. Afterwards, they also experienced a “spirit walk” through a meadow that allowed the students to contemplate on nature, and how important it is to preserve areas like Yosemite.

 

Senior Francisco Martinez enjoys the wilderness and was able to express his appreciation while painting.

 

“The watercolor activity was definitely the most memorable part of the entire trip,” Martinez stated, “The combination of the view from a wide open ridge, and painting with watercolors highlighted the beauty of Yosemite; it was surreal to say the least and it’s something I will never forget.”

 

From the final bus ride home it was apparent that the trip had a strong impact on everyone. Faces were full of glee from the week of adventure, but had a slight twinge of mourning from the realization that the trip was over. In a few hours, they would be back at the parking lot that started it all, but this time they would enter the parking lot with cheerful memories of a expedition full of nature and friendship that will last a lifetime.