Beginning-of-the-Year Trip: Tuolumne Meadows


Beginning of the Year Trip: Tuolumne Meadows,
Yosemite National Park

September 14-18, 2017

Faculty Chaperones Included Paul Nolan, John Luca, Hugo Macario, Emily Regan, Gordon Sichi, and Suzie Sichi, with Alum Guest Megan Eckert

Facebook Photos

Thursday, September 14

On Thursday morning the entire school traveled by charter bus toward Yosemite National Park.  Despite the early departure, spirits were high as legendary airbus driver David Harkness led us away from 814 Santa Barbara St.  There was a brief stop at a rest area where the students glimpsed Mount Whitney, the highest summit in the contiguous United States.  Next, we visited Manzanar National Historic Site.  The students met at a diorama of the Camp and heard from a NPS interpreter about life in Manzanar during the Japanese internment of WWII, and then they watched a powerful video containing pictures, stories, and memories.  After the film, students were also able to explore some of the exhibits and learn more about the controversy surrounding internment.  Our final stop of the day was Tuolumne Meadows campground.  Everyone set up camp, prepared dinner, and then gathered around a campfire to go over logistics for the next day of the trip.  Faculty members Hugo Macario, Paul Nolan, and Emily Regan led the Upper School food groups; Gordon and Suzie Sichi led the Lower School group.  Since everyone had been up early and despite naps on the bus, everyone was ready for an early bed-time.

Ada, Mariana, Bella, and Carly stand in front of Mount Whitney.

Alejandro and Daniel help with camp setup after a long drive.

Friday, September 15

Students woke up early on Friday and were driven to Pothole Dome for an interpretive hike by NPS naturalist Karen Amstutz.  She helped students to learn about the extensive geology of Tuolumne Meadows.  On the small scale, students used magnifying glasses to observe different minerals in the rocks on Pothole Dome and differentiate between various types of rocks in the area.  On the large scale, they observed the different granite formations and the effects of glaciers and erosion.  Karen also pointed out the major peaks visible from the top of the Dome.

After Karen’s hike, the students walked into the meadows just beyond Pothole Dome for a presentation by researcher Lydia Baldwin, friend of Science teacher Paul Nolan.  Lydia explained her research on trying to restore the grasses in the alpine meadows and understand the relationship between the grasses, trees, animals, soil, and effects of the drought on alpine meadows.  She demonstrated the equipment she used to collect data on photosynthesis and cellular respiration in order to understand the flow of carbon dioxide in the meadow.

Following the informative morning presentations, the students returned to camp for a well-earned lunch.  They also packed a lunch to take on the Clouds Rest hike the following day.  The whole school took a leisurely walk along Tuolumne creek after lunch.  Students played trail games like “Contact” and were full of boisterous energy when we stopped at two bridges that cross the creek.  Suzie facilitated an activity where the students separated from each other and silently observed nature for 9 minutes.  Upon reconvening, the students shared different observations they had made using all five senses including hearing their own breath, seeing different colors in the flowing water, tasting their lunch, and touching the cold water.  Students then had a few minutes to relax along the creek-bed.  A few souls even braved the frigid water and went swimming!

Next, we returned to camp, made dinner and gathered around the campfire prepared by Master Firestarter Paul.  The seniors had prepared a great game of Trivia, and at the end of four thrilling rounds the Hypothetical Winners held a small lead on Emily’s Food Group and the Faculty.  There was a brief discussion of the logistics for the Clouds Rest hike, everyone filled their water bottles, packed their lunch and headed in for a good night’s rest.

Students pay close attention to Karen Amstutz’s presentation about the extensive geology of Tuolumne Meadows.

After a long leisurely walk the group stops for a photo along the Tuolumne creek.

Saturday, September 16

Students were awakened in the dark at 5am to prepare for the challenging 14 mile roundtrip hike to the summit of Clouds Rest (9,926’).  After a quick breakfast, students grabbed their daypacks and headed for the trailhead.  The school was divided into three groups with two teachers per group.  John Luca and alum Megan Eckert made special guest appearances for the epic hike.  All three groups reached the summit by 1:45pm.  The view looking down on Half Dome was spectacular.  There was a special birthday celebration for Alexandre Dalbadie at the top, complete with singing, a brownie, and a candle (barely).  On the hike back down, Gordon and three intrepid students finished the hike by flashlights, arriving back at camp in darkness.  Dinner tasted extra good that night.  There was a small campfire, and everyone went to bed soon after dinner.

Diego enthusiastically hiking the ridge of Cloud’s Rest.

We made it! Megan, an Anacapa alum, and Emily celebrate once reaching the top of Cloud’s Rest.

“The Yosemite view was absolutely, positively breathtaking. The birds tweeting, the smell of the pine trees, the feel of the thin Yosemite air in my hair, and the taste of my mint Colgate toothpaste all filled my senses. The clouds were fluffy, gourmet cotton-candy made with perfection. The mountains were a tall, 11 foot emperor with snow-white hair and dressed in a purple and blue silk gown. The trees were a luscious green coat. The sky was the calm ocean at its finest. Yosemite is something I will never, ever, ever forget. The combination of the view, my first time at Yosemite, and my very first Anacapa trip is a memory ingrained in my heart and mind forever.”– 7th grader

“I thought back to yesterday’s tour of Pothole Dome, when the ranger told us how glaciers shaped Yosemite thousands of years ago causing a dramatic alteration and evolution of the landscape. From the top of Clouds Rest it looked like someone had molded the valley out of clay, carving out all the little details on the peaks and smoothing the surfaces of the domes. It would take a lot of effort and talent for an artist to sculpt something like that, yet the glaciers did it just by chance and gravity. Sometimes nature works in amazing ways.” – 11th grader

Sunday, September 17

After so many early mornings and a long day of hiking, the students slept in on Sunday.  They had a leisurely breakfast and packed a lunch for the day.  We all went to Tenaya Lake for a well-earned day of relaxation.  The students swam in the lake, played Risk, practiced yoga, threw the Frisbee, and overall had a great day hanging out by the beautiful waters of the lake.  When we returned to camp, everyone made dinner then gathered around for a final campfire.  The seniors presented Gordon with a Sequoia tree in a can to plant at school as a talking stick. Everyone took turns to appreciate different people and experiences that made the trip memorable for them.  Afterwards, the seniors finished the final round of Trivia, complete with a round of Categories.  Paul and Leah battled it out, and in the end the Faculty won!  The prize of Kool-Aid was gifted by the Faculty to the second place team- the Hypothetical Winners.  Just before heading to bed, Emily led everyone in a calming activity mimicking the sounds of a rainstorm and we were all grateful for the perfect weather we had during our stay in Yosemite.

Students enjoy some relaxing games by the lake.

Yoga by the lake with Carly, Bella, Leah and Emily.

“I will never forget the wonderful view that is Lake Tenaya. The mountains hovered over the lake like a wall and the water reflected the mountain with rays of sunshine. I knew it would be a while until the next time I’d be there so I tried to treasure the moment. I miss the spot and feeling severely. Joining Anacapa School was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The friendships I’ve made through the trips are unforgettable. We had such a great time together. It was perfect.”– 8th grader

Monday, September 18

Students woke up at 7:00am and started breaking down camp.  We made a final breakfast and sack lunch for the bus.  The food groups organized four boxes and two coolers of leftover food to be donated to the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission upon our return to school.   After loading the bus, we took a different route out of the park.  Gordon gave the students a brief history of the Olmsted family and their connection to Yosemite on our way to a stop at Olmsted Point.  From there we could see Clouds Rest and Half Dome.  We continued the drive through Yosemite Valley and had a final stop to see El Capitan and Half Dome.  After that, there was just a short dinner break before our “on time” arrival at 8:30pm at 814 Santa Barbara Street.  We unloaded the bus, donated the food, and waited for the parents to arrive. Great trip, Anacapa, for the fourth time to the top of Clouds Rest!

Stopping for one last amazing view on the way home. Olmstead Point!

“The views were amazing. There were trees everywhere just waiting to say hi to you. As you walked you could see everything from the sky to the green trees to the rocks. Sometimes we had quiet moments where you only heard the sound of your feet against the ground, crunch crunch, and the heavy breathing of people in the group, swish swoosh. You always felt the cold breeze tickling your skin and making you shiver. Sometimes you could even taste the sweet, bitter air. It was an experience I will never forget and it reminded me of life: The top of Clouds Rest was my goal. I was hiking to achieve that goal. The obstacles were the times I felt like I would never reach the top. But I believed in myself and continued on to accomplish the goal. I’m ready for more adventures like this.” -9th grader