Students tackle Cloud’s Rest
Outdoor adventure takes students and President Alan Walker to Yosemite
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The first weekend of fall in Yosemite National Park means warm colors in the trees of the Valley and thicker sleeping bags for campers; it’s a last call for an overwhelming sensorial experience in the famous Californian National Park before the snow covers its colossal peaks.
Sierra Nevada College was there for a weekend of camping, hiking (and more hiking), s’mores and a final respite in the hot springs at the feet of the Sierra. Adventures like this past weekend in Yosemite represent an important part of the SNC experience for many students—who decide to study and live in extraordinary Lake Tahoe, embracing the pristine and outdoorsy lifestyle that make for a unique education.
American students are interwoven with internationals, seniors with freshmen. Nothing estranges us from the territory, the experience, or each other. At dawn, the band of campers gather around the fire, sleepy and quiet, waiting for water to boil, with coffee ready in their cups and beanies donned, all unified in a blissful struggle.
The Fall Yosemite Trip is a staple of our Outdoor Adventure Program as much as Will Hoida is. Hoida organized the high-country weekend—camping at the Tuolumne Meadow Campground for two nights with the major hike on Saturday, summiting Cloud’s Rest. The stunning peak is at 9,926 feet above sea level (higher than many of the surrounding peaks, including Half Dome). What many deem a “strenuous hike,” the 16 miles didn’t intimidate the students nor President Alan Walker (a Yosemite virgin no more), who also summited with the rest of the crew.
“Dr. Walker remains committed to attending activities since he arrived at SNC about a year ago,” said Hoida.
The motivation of making it to the top pushed the hikers who were trooping up at a fast pace. Yet after every major climb the group recomposed with the forerunners waiting on the others. Every water break offered a different viewpoint. The vegetation varied in accordance with the rising elevation, and fellow hikers and backpackers on the trail became friends by default, sharing their experience or asking where the next water access was.
“From the top, the scenery is unlike anything, it’s truly breathtaking. Words fail to describe it,” said freshman Teah Fisher, an Environmental Science student. But the “real highlight” of the trip was the Chinese dinner, said Freshman Vilde Johansen from Norway, who enjoyed the authentic Chinese cuisine at high elevation. No, it wasn’t a fancy Chinese restaurant in the valley. Senior Corleone Zhang, from China, cooked a traditional summer meal called “Gài Miàn”—including noodles covered with celery pork, pine nuts and an egg tomato sauce. “I am glad people liked it. I wanted them to try the real Chinese food since it’s hard to find really good Chinese food in the area,” said Zhang.
On Sunday the hikers experienced the peace of a sunny morning in the hot springs on the way out from Yosemite. For Zhang it was the first time in a hot spring. “I feel this is a gift from mother nature,” he said. “ I made myself a facial massage with the clay, so I saved a couple hundred dollars, just for that.”