End-of-the-Year Trip: Wind Wolves Preserve

Group photo at Wind Wolves Preserve, June 2016.

Group photo at Wind Wolves Preserve, June 2016.

Wind Wolves Preserve Trip

June 5 – June 8, 2016

Teacher chaperones included: Emily de Moor, Emily Regan, Gordon Sichi, Suzie Sichi, Hugo Macario, and Dillon Yuhasz

Facebook Photos

Student Quotes:

“I really liked the 3.5 mile hike we took. I got to bond with fellow classmates, which was very fun. While we were hiking, I really appreciated the beauty of the plain hills. It is nice to see an area just full of natural grass and no buildings or roads. I also began to see and appreciate the unique differences in other people at Anacapa. I really enjoyed seeing everyone bond and get along.” – 7th Grade Student

“This trip changed me because it was my last Anacapa trip. The numerous camping trips throughout my Anacapa years have allowed me to better appreciate nature and the experience of being outdoors. The trip also made me really appreciate the power of friendship.” – 12th Grade Student

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Students arrived on time at 6:00am and worked together to pack all the food, camping gear, and personal items onto the bus and U-Haul van for a prompt 7:00 am departure. Anacapa’s veteran bus driver, David Harkness, was our driver once again and, as always, he took excellent care of our school from start to finish. Our only stop of the day before arriving at Wind Wolves Preserve was to Carrizo Plains National Monument, where the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate meet with striking evidence of past tectonic shifts. A stop was made along Soda Lake Road to hike to the top of hills created by east/west “shudder faults” caused by the historic north/south shifts of the San Andreas Fault. Another stop was to see from the distance the “Big Bend” where the San Andreas Fault bends from its dominant north/south direction to a west/east direction. The “Big Bend” of the San Andreas Fault caused the epic geological forces which gave rise to the Coastal Mountains of Southern California, known as the Transverse Ranges. The “Big Bend” goes right through the Wind Wolves Preserve, the site of our first-ever trip to a not-well-known niche of California.  Wind Wolves Preserve, at 95,000 acres, is the largest private preserve on the West Coast. The Wildlands Conservancy purchased much of the San Emigdio Ranch to form the preserve in 1996, saving the land from a proposed housing development that included a town and golf course. The land has a long and colorful history. The historic road (El Camino Viejo) from Los Angeles to San Francisco is the same road we used to drive to our private group camp with its large and stunningly beautiful gazebo. The Willows Group Camp is the only camp in the heart of the Canyon, and it was wonderful to be Anacapa School with no other campers around. Anacapa teamwork was everywhere evident as the tents and cooking group areas were set up. The rest of the afternoon was set aside for free time. After dinner, everyone met under the Gazebo for the evening activities, which included trivia hosted by James and Jade, a game of “Dare” with Hugo and Neeva, and (later) UFO Hunting with “Dan” (Dillon).

Students getting ready to leave on Sunday morning.

Students getting ready to leave on Sunday morning.

The gazebo at the Willows Group Camp.

The gazebo at the Willows Group Camp.

“One of the experiences during the trip I really enjoyed was the night hike to see the stars. I absolutely loved it! I really enjoyed having some time to just sit on the ground and look at those amazing stars. That experience is something I would love to do again. This experience changed me personally because it made me think how beautiful nature actually is. The surroundings, trees, and the wind were so amazing. I really enjoyed it!” – 7th Grade Student

Monday, June 6, 2016

After breakfast, everyone hiked 3 miles down El Camino Viejo to the Wind Wolves Preserve headquarters for a tour of the nursery to see where an extensive variety of native plants are being propagated for planting to replace invasive, non-native plants. After our tour of the nursery, we worked for a couple of hours eradicating invasive tumbleweeds using shovels and hoes, while another group delicately collected native blue needle grass seeds to be propagated in the nursery. Even though the temperature was 103 degrees, students and teachers worked hard and managed to stay hydrated. After our fieldwork, we met back at administrative headquarters to have lunch in the cool, air conditioned dining room. After lunch, Educational Director Melissa Debulamanzi, along with Jana Borba, gave us a slide lecture about the Wildlands Conservancy’s extensive preserves, including an in-depth look into the Wind Wolves Preserve with pictures of areas we would not be able to visit, such as the beautiful Chumash cave art sites. Melissa and Jana concluded by introducing us to their pets, which included a desert tortoise, a gopher snake, and a king snake. David Harkness arrived at 2:00 pm to give us a much-appreciated drive back uphill to our camp. After everyone had a chance to hang out and relax, we had a surprise visit by Rachel Blakey, an Australian bat researcher, who gave us an enthusiastic presentation on the wonders of bats throughout the world. Since there was a maternal colony of bats living in the rafters of the Gazebo, students were eager to learn more about our gazebomates. Before dinner, Dillon Yuhasz organized the Great Anacapa Cook-Off competition among the four Upper School food groups and the Lower School food group. Everyone was prepared to compete with their best versions of a BLT, which could include any ingredients that started with a B, L or T, and a side dish. Dillon threw a major twist in everyone’s planned menus, allowing groups to sabotage other groups by bidding to give up minutes available to cook their BLT’s. The Veggie group won the sabotage and selected Hugo’s group to switch menus with the Lower School, causing chaos, confusion, and lots of fun inventions. Suzie, Hugo, Jade, and Neeva were the judges of each group’s presentation and overall quality. Emily Regan’s group, who had not lost any minutes, won the competition with a traditional BLT. After the Cook-Off, dinners were prepared and the evening included free time along with camp activities, such as badminton, ultimate frisbee, cards, and games. That evening, the water mysteriously stopped up in the bathrooms and, despite a great effort by the Wind Wolves rangers to restore them to working order, the night was spent without water in the bathrooms. We adapted by using water in a bucket to flush the toilets. Fortunately, the water faucets worked fine, so we had plenty of good water that night, and the next day the water mysteriously returned.

Hiking El Camino Viejo

Hiking El Camino Viejo

The Great Anacapa Cook-Off competition

The Great Anacapa Cook-Off competition

“I very much appreciated all the free time we were given. In the heat, it gave us opportunities to bond and enjoy each other’s company before summer break. We hung out under the gazebo and played hour-long games of Uno. We also painted and simply talked. Some of us listened to the radio and others played badminton. I had the opportunity to hang out with all my friends and strengthen the relationships I have with all my classmates.” – 9th Grade Student

“One experience on this trip that was very special was the hike. It was beautiful all around me and because it was mostly flat, I was able to look around me and appreciate the nature rather than looking down at my feet. I had a good time with my friends on this hike and had some very interesting conversations. Hugo even said we should have our own Podcast!” – 10th Grade Student

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The agenda for the morning was a hike up San Emigdio Canyon in order to reach the trail to hike to the top of the canyon and then back down the top of the mountain to the Tule Elk Overlook. The views were absolutely amazing. Some students saw the Tule Elk Herd, which is being raised by the Preserve in part to provide a food source for the nearby California Condors. Students did great on the hike, and once back at the bottom of the Canyon we were met by David Harkness, who gave us a much-appreciated ride back to camp. That afternoon, climate science researchers from the University of Minnesota stopped into our camp to share what they were doing that day in dendrochronology (the scientific method of dating trees based on analysis of growth rings). Taking core samples from California blue oaks, they were able to study climate trends and drought cycles. Professor Dan Griffin and Jake, his graduate student assistant, really gave Anacapa an amazing look into the complexities of global warming and climate change science. The questions asked by the students were impressive. Later that same afternoon, Walter Sakai, a bird researcher, stopped into our camp to give yet another science presentation in the Gazebo. He explained how, early the following morning, he and his two associates from the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum (one an expert on spiders, the other an expert on insects) were going to trap birds in nets to be banded for research. More information was shared on the many opportunities Wind Wolves Preserve provides scientific researchers. After dinner that night, we had our traditional “appreciations” ceremony, which was kicked off by an original faculty musical composition, entitled “The Wind Wolves are in my Heart Now.” The appreciations were fun and heartfelt, bringing to a close another great End-of-the-Year Trip. After the appreciations, Dillon and Hugo led a group of brave students off into the forest for some very scary stories while Suzie led the Lower School on a night hike up the canyon for a quiet period of experiencing the sights and sounds of the windy, starry night. Later, students shared what they saw, heard, and felt.

Climate science researcher from University of Minnesota

Climate science researcher from University of Minnesota

The traditional "appreciations" ceremony

The traditional “appreciations” ceremony

“An experience I really enjoyed on the trip was the hike to see the elk. Although it was quite hot, it was amazing to see the way the hills rolled and the view of Bakersfield. I unfortunately was not lucky enough to see any elk, but the walk/hike itself was enjoyable and beautiful.” – 9th Grade Student

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

At sunrise, a group of students met Walter Sakai to see his science station with his scientific birding books, charts, instruments, manuals, and tools for banding birds. After finding a couple of nets empty, we found one trapped song sparrow in a net. Walter carefully removed the bird and put it into a cloth bag to bring back to his science station. There, he weighed it, inspected it, banded it, and released it. Students then had breakfast and packed up for the return to Santa Barbara. David Harkness arrived at 9:30 am, and with the amazing teamwork of this year’s students and teachers, we left right on time at 10:00 am. On our way back we took a different route to be able to visit Fort Tejon, which is an original U.S. Military Fort dating back to 1854. Fort Tejon is famous for being the proposed end of the U.S. Camel Corps, which turned out to be an experiment that didn’t work. Americans were not made to be camel herders! After wandering around the grounds and inside the original buildings of Fort Tejon, we took off for Santa Barbara and arrived back to our campus by 2:15, earlier than scheduled. Great trip, Anacapa! Way to go!

Walter Sakai, bird researcher

Walter Sakai, bird researcher

Fort Tejon, an original U.S. Military Fort , est. 1854

Fort Tejon, an original U.S. Military Fort , est. 1854

Leaving Wind Wolves Preserve

Leaving Wind Wolves Preserve

Students returning to campus

Students returning to campus

“Seeing the Mexican-American War artifacts at Fort Tejon was very cool to me. It was neat to see a piece of history in the very place it occurred. I could imagine the soldiers working at the Fort, and had a window into what California was like at the time. In the past I have not been especially interested in the Mexican-American War, but I definitely want to learn more about it now.” – 12th Grade Student

“One experience which was special to me was meeting the three biologists who were banding birds, and seeing the bird banding take place. I have always loved animals and nature, and so it was very special to me to be able to see up close how researchers study wildlife, which is a possible career I have been thinking of. Not only was Walter, the bird researcher, very knowledgeable about birds, he was also really good at explaining how bird banding works and he was open to questions. He even taught me how to hold a bird and let me set it free. The reason why this experience was special was because it gave me the experience of seeing how wildlife research works.” – 9th Grade Student