Monday, November 17, 2008

A little help for my friends.

Turlock High WildLink 2008 atop Mt Hoffman, Yosemite.
It's been a few weeks since I've been able say anything of interest, and I feel quite bummed that I've missed a great haiku meme & haven't yet had a chance to vent about our great air quality in the Central... cough, cough, weeeeeezzzeee Valley. Luckily, however my time was filled with adventure as my wife and I were absorbed with taking our WildLink students from THS to Pinecrest Lake to engage in wilderness stewardship programs.

The WildLink program is an amazing collaborative effort between the Yosemite Institute, Sierra Conservancy and others that brings students from "undeserved" demographics to Yosemite & Sequoia National Parks for a week-long experience free of charge. In return the students must participate in several wilderness stewardship projects throughout the year.

While experiencing WildLink, participants spend several days learning wilderness ethics and the value of wilderness at (ironically) Curry Village . The week culminates with a guided four-day backpacking expedition through wilderness lands. This year the trek started at Tuolumne Meadows and ended with an ascent of Mt Hoffman and exited at May Lake.

The challenges of a twenty-five mile hike with a full pack is daunting in and of itself. But for the THS WildLink students it's an even greater challenge when one considers 85% of the participants have never set foot in the Sierras, a mere 65 miles from where they live. Mind you, these are mountains that they can clearly see looming large on the horizon on many post-storm, clear winter days. If they maneuver to the correct vantage point just outside of Turlock's city limits they can see directly up Yosemite Valley to the tops of El Cap and Half Dome!

Needless to say the experience WildLink provides is usually life-changing for all those involved. Every bit of food, shelter and warm clothing is provided by the WildLink program for the duration of the week. The only cost to Turlock High is the transportation to Yosemite and a substitute teacher to cover my classes while I'm chaperoning the first several nights in Curry Village. In order to help add some funds to our coffer in this horrible time of educational budget cuts, the THS WildLink club has developed a 12 month Sierra Scenery 2009 Calendar to sell as a fundraiser.

The photos in the calendar were all taken by yours truly and represent 12 beautiful places the Sierras have to offer after a leisurely day-hike. Surprisingly few Californians have every seen these places in person! If you enjoy pretty pictures of a pretty place, maybe you'll consider donating $20 (costs $13 to print) to the THS WildLink club in return for great calendar. If interested, please click on the photo below which will take you to the "official" 2009 Sierra Scenes 2009 calendar. Thanks for looking!