What is WildLink?
During the past eleven years, the THS & Pitman WildLink Club has been proud to send over 150 students on empowering and educational week-long WildLink expeditions through the rugged and untamed wilderness areas of Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks . With all backpacking gear, meals and lodging provided by WildLink (a branch of NatureBridge), WildLink Club students are given an opportunity to intimately experience the grandeur residing in their own back yard at no cost to them. The THS & PHS WildLink Club strives to fulfill the WildLink mission statement: "That the diverse California citizenry is informed, invested and committed to the enduring resource of Wilderness".
2012 Kings Canyon NP - Paradise Valley
Eleven amazing students from Turlock High School ventured into the relatively unknown confines of Kings Canyon National Park and came away with memories for a lifetime. Their 28 mile hike into Paradise Valley allowed them to hug the South Fork Kings River for their entire journey. Judging by exuberant feedback, this was one of the best WildLink Trips of all time.
2011 Cathedral Lake - Clouds Rest
Twelve great students from THS & PHS got to experience amazing views and amazing weather on a trek through Upper Cathedral Lake and to Sunrise Camp. The group worked together well to summit the foreboding Clouds Rest to gain views that are unmatched in the park!
CLICK HERE FOR TIME-LAPSE VIDEO OF THE BORROWED GEAR DISTRIBUTION .
2010 Clouds Rest
Twelve awesome students from THS & PHS survived a relatively warm trip to Clouds Rest and Upper Cathedral Lake while also completing some much needed stewardship by removing old campfire scars left on the granites near Upper Cathedral Lake. Great group, and everyone made it!
2009 Clouds Rest
The October 2009 WildLink expedition saw a collaborative effort between Turlock & Pitman come to fruition. Ten great students were able to brave subzero wind-chill and 70mph gusts of wind on the first night of their trip to successfully complete their Tenaya Lake – Clouds Rest – Little Yosemite Valley – Curry Village trek. Seldom has there been an expedition that experienced frigid temps so low that soap, iodine & bottles of water to froze – IN THE TENT! Wednesday & Thursday warmed-up and allowed the participants to take a stab at Cloud’s rest from the difficult western approach. They made it and were rewarded with views and camaraderie to last a lifetime.
2009 Mt. Hoffman
Ten students from Turlock High had the chance to take a lovely expedition into Yosemite’s wilderness and eventually summit Mt. Hoffman, the geographic center of the park. These photos show the group activities in the two days leading up to the hike while staying in the newly reinforced tent cabins in Curry Village’s “Boys Town”. We ventured to Taft Point & Glacier Point on Sunday, conquered the Spider Caves with amazing teamwork and then packed the gear needed to go on the expedition. There was also quite a sizeable rock fall (150 tons) that made a racket on Tuesday morning.
2008 Mt. Hoffman
Mrs Bloom, Mrs Hollister & I had to give up yet another three days to take eight great kids up to Yosemite to experience another great expedition. This year's expedition ran from Lembert Dome in Tuolumne Meadows all the way to Mount Hoffman and May Lake. Take a look at the pre-trip photos to see what the kids did to prepare for their trip.
2007 Clouds Rest
Mrs Bloom, Mrs Hollister & I got to take another eleven great kids to Yosemite Valley. The eleven participants had a great long excursion with perfect weather up and over Clouds Rest and to Yosemite Valley over four nights.
2007 Sequoia NP
I had the pleasure of taking nine students on a grueling backpacking trip hosted by Stephanie Strickland & SEKI WildLink into the heart of Sequoia National Park. After an initial night of rain and fairly strenuous hike in, the weekend weather was gorgeous and allowed us to explore and exist in relative comfort. I was lucky enough to catch a golden trout in the East Fork of Clover Creek, which surprised the heck out of me (and probably the fish too)! There are a LOT of photos here, but they tell the complete story.
2007 Sequoia NP #1
Once again, 12 intrepid students from THS (and one from Pitman...) went on an amazing hike through the redwoods and sequoias of Sequoia National Park. Mr. Silva and Gretchen Eisenhut had a wonderful time chaperoning the hike and no one was eaten by bears. A big plus for any backpacking trip. The information here is a bit sparse until I can get Mr. Silva to fill-in a few details for me.
2006 Clouds Rest
This was the first WildLink expedition that I had the opportunity to work with. The kids were wonderful and they had an amazing hike from Sunrise High Sierra Camp, up to Cloud's Rest, down through Yosemite Valley and back to Curry Village.
11/09/13 Google Earth Hike Eighteen awesome THS & PHS students used a perfect November day to get inspired... by hiking 2.77mi to Inspiration Point and back. The trailhead at Tunnel View is easy to find and the trail makes a great getaway from the valley traffic. We ended the afternoon with a hike in El Capitan Meadow to soak in some autumn reflections on the Merced River.
Sentinel Dome & Taft Point (HAIL!)
Twenty-one students from Turlock and Pitman High Schools braved a late-summer spattering of rain and hail to achieve vast vistas of Yosemite. This was a great way to start the year, but pictures are sparse due to intense rain and hail on the Taft Point Hike. Didn't want my camera to take a beating.
Sentinel Dome & Taft Point
Fifteen awesome Turlock & Pitman High WildLink club members along with their drivers spent a glorious mid-October Saturday in Yosemite National Park exploring Sentinel Dome and the Fissures at Taft Point. What a thrill it was to peer straight down over 3000 feet!
Twenty-two intrepid WildLink explorers braved a long drive to experience the solitude and wonderment at Kehoe Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore. We perfectly timed a low-tide and thus had plenty to explore. Several students picked-up a great deal of flotsam including fishing nets and even a few plastic fishing floats with Japanese writing. With full bellies we made the 34-mile windy drive down HWY 1 to Muir Woods National Monument where we were monumentally disappointed. Apparently everyone in the Bay Area decided to take advantage of a nice day and turned the Muir Woods Road into a three-mile long parking lot. Since there was ZERO chance of finding parking we begrudgingly decided to visit Muir Beach instead to finish-off the day and to see where Redwood Creek enters the Pacific Ocean.
Curry Village Ice Skating
Twenty-Four WildLinkers had the best day EVER thanks to the volunteer driving of Mr. Hoobyar, Mr. Julien, Mrs. Rowan, Old Man Hollister and Brett. The perfect January day in Yosemite Valley. 45 degrees, sunny, a smidgen of left-over snow, flowing falls, ice skating and to top it all off - HAPPY BURGER!
Sonora Pass Snow!
Seven THS and four PHS students went to the high country several days after an unusually cold early fall storm dumped 12"+ of snow on Sonora Pass. We had originally planned this hike several weeks ago with the hope of getting great views and seeing the famous high-country fall foliage. We also wanted to hike through the remnants of a large volcano that existed in the area 10 million years ago.
We ended up with great views and snowball fights along the entire length of a short hike on a snow-covered Pacific Crest Trail north of Sonora Pass. Aspen trees are still another week or two away from bright yellows and oranges... only twinges of yellow were seen on our hike.
Burst Rock Ridge
The Turlock & Pitman High WildLink Clubs started the 2011-2012 school hiking season right. Sixteen club members, Mr & Mrs H and Mr Campbell took on one of the best “bang for your buck” trails: Burst Rock in the Emigrant Wilderness. Despite the fact that it was opening day of deer-hunting season and the trailhead parking was packed, we ran across very few folks on the trail. Once at Burst Rock, we headed up Burst Rock Ridge off-trail on the hard granite. Upon gaining the summit (9,200’) of the ridge we were treated to expansive 360 degree views, seeing peaks as far away as 25 miles. The surrounding meadows were still very wet and green, unusual for this time of year. There were even a few patches of ice that were still somewhat snow-like… enough so to make a snowball, anyway. Overall a great day! (Oh yeah… we spread our group out so not to heavily impact the wilderness).
Thirteen WildLink club members braved the unseasonably cool April temperatures to partake in a wonderful hike at Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park. On the road into Hetch Hetchy we stopped in a snowy meadow to play in some snow and observe hoarfrost. Once we arrived at Hetch Hetchy the students learned about the history/impact of the O’shuagnessy Dam and the water/electrical resource it supplies to San Francisco. We then set out for the base of Wapama Falls which was putting on a spectacular display thanks to the large snowpack. Unfortunately we couldn’t view the full extent of the falls since the bridge across the falls had been wiped-out in an October storm. The weather gods made up for our bad view with a brief shower of snowflakes and snow pellets that made the hike seem as if it took place within a giant snow globe. Overall, a fantastic day!
Ice Skating -
Thirteen WildLink club members escaped the Tule Fog for a fun afternoon of ice skating at the Curry Village ice rink in Yosemite Valley. After hitting the ice for a couple hours we headed off to Lower Yosemite Falls for a photo-op and then had an epic fifteen-minute snowball fight before taking in the sunset at Tunnel View. I think everyone had fun and would do it again! CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO OF SMALL AVALANCHE
Cleos Bath -
Stanislaus Natl Forest
Seventeen WildLink club members took advantage of our Veteran’s Day by enjoying the lands our military men and women fought so hard to keep free. The day's destination was Cleo’s Bath above Pinecrest Lake since it offered the perfect blend of hiking, adventure and of course, snow play. The fall colors of the oaks around the lake were in full display, adding to the already gorgeous scenery on this perfect day. Everyone on the trip worked hard to make sure everyone made it up safely to the top of Cleo’s Bath using tremendous amounts of good spirit and teamwork. A big thanks to Daisy’s mom and unlce for driving a van, as well as to the Senior Mr & Mrs H for driving a truck with several club members. Without them not nearly as many of us could have had fun!
Path of the Padres-
Los Banos Reservoir
Four Turlock High WildLink Club members, along with four THS Ag students experienced a tremendously informative and exhilarating day filled with history, biology and geology at Los Banos Reservoir as part of the Path of the Padres interpretive hike. Ranger Richard was kind enough to guide us on the original trail used by Catholic Padres of the late 1700’s to navigate across the Diablo Range into the Central Valley .
Fourteen WildLink club members had an amazing day visiting Point Reyes Nation Seashore. Our members got to experience many "firsts": The first time any of them had stood on an actual fault, the first time many of them had seen the ocean, the first time many of them had seen elk, the first time any of them got to run their toes through the sand, etc, etc. The day was nearly perfect. Temperatures were in the mid fifties with nearly 30mph winds. But our reward for braving the wind was a crystal-clear day in which we could literally see for miles.
Powell Lake -
Five fun-loving club members gave up their Halloween to go hiking on a lovely afternoon in the Emigrant Wilderness. With temperatures reaching 62 at 9000ft and visibility going on for miles, our jaunt from Gianelli Cabin to Burst Rock & Powell Lake was a day-hike that truly pleased all. Enjoy the photos!
Path of the Padres-
Los Banos Reservoir
With funds provided by the WildLink club, 13 lucky students got to spend a warm, breezy, spring day at Los Banos Reservoir. Ranger Richard was great and helped narrate our expedition during a short pontoon boat ride across the lake and a 2.5 mile hike along Los Banos Creek. Along the way we saw many great animal & geological specimens, including a conglomerate layer that still has me drooling! We capped-off our hike with a 600ft ascent up “Optional Hill” that gave us sprawling views of Los Banos, the coast range and the largest sycamore grove in California.
Conifer Removal - Yosemite Valley
Twenty-three THS & PHS WildLinkers took full advantage of a beautiful day in Yosemite Valley by helping the Park restore the oak-studded meadows that have been overrun by conifers in the time of fire-suppression. The club was treated to lunch and a lovely stroll in Leidig Meadows while being taught the importance of black oak trees and their acorns to the Ahwahneechee people. Thanks to years of fire suppression, conifers have quickly started to overrun the meadows and thus threaten the black oak trees. Under the guidance of NatureBridge instructors Ruth & Elspie, our awesome students helped clear over 100 conifer trees near the Four Mile Trail parking area with the hopes of restoring the meadow. After the hard day of work we capped-off the evening with a little ice skating at the Curry Village Ice Rink. BIG FUN! A big thanks to Mrs. Chavez, Mr. & Mrs. Brown, Mr. Russel, Mr. Raumann and the Senior Hollisters for driving!
Bear Lake Fire Ring Removal
Nine THS WildLinkers participated in a weekend backpacking stewardship project deep in the Emigrant Wilderness to Bear Lake. Thanks to their efforts, many illegal fire rings we removed, along with lots of trash. Thanks for helping to preserve the wilderness! Photos from WildLink since Mr H didn't go on this trip.
San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge
01/21/2012 Google Earth View
Twenty-five WildLink club members (and their volunteer drivers) braved a blustery and showery Saturday morning for the privilege of planting the first several hundred plants in the last phase of habitat restoration on the San Joaquin River National Wildlife refuge near Grayson, CA. Thanks to the great prep work of the River Partners and Yosemite WildLink program director/coordinator, our club helped to put a small dent in the 549 acres yet to be planted in the reclaimed farmland that is within the floodplain of the mighty San Joaquin River. Volunteers planted a variety of plant species including, valley oak, blackberry & alder. Our plants should take root easily and mimic a wild area within five years. Our WildLinkers should be very proud of their hard work. It’s nice to know we’ll forever be a part of the San Joaquin river’s ongoing recovery!
Chewing Gum Lake
Ten WildLink members had a weekend filled with adventure and stewardship in the Emigrant Wilderness. Camo Mike, Rapping Mike, Liz, Isidro, Kathy (Flapjack), Aaron, Dre, Maritza, Jeremy & Angelica helped WildLink Paul and several Forest rangers eliminate illegal campsites near Chewing Gum Lake. Several trail signs were installed, as were several large rocks to dissuade camping on once-flat surfaces. Way to give back!
Pacheco Pass State Park
Ten THS students, one PHS student and four Silva grandkids braved the foggy cold atop Pacheco Pass to help restore and create trails within the park. After five hours of work the group accomplished the following: 1. Repaired 130 yards of trail; 2. Created 155 yards of new trail; 3. Cemented six new metal trail sign posts; 4. Had a great time helping the park create a path that will be used for many generations of visitors to come. The park is quite beautiful this time of year and supports mountain biking as one of the main activities along its trails. This park should be a highly recommended stop for those looking to escape valley fog to enjoy a diversity of wildlife amongst the HUGE oak trees that dot the park.
Myers Water Bank - Mendota, CA
Twenty-two!! Well-behaved students got to visit the only private water bank in the United States on a lovely November Saturday. The students were first given an overview of the site and shown how the farm stores water in aquifers underground for safe keeping until dry years. Explained by the farm’s biologist, Jason Dean, the complexities of water banking & exchange were made clear & relevant to the students. The students were also made very aware of the positive environmental impacts provided by the farm. Students were then led by through a series of great team-building exercises by Dave before having a lovely lunch.
Camp Sylvester - Pinecrest, CA
Beanie, Nav, Drea & Jasmine went all out in our efforst to spiffy-up Camp Sylvester. Unfortunately, a colde weather front with rain and snow pushed through keeping us indoors for most of the "stewardship". We did, however take a hike around Pinecrest Lake, which was pretty fun.
Douglas Meadow - Stanislaus Natl Forest
With the help of Stanislaus National Forest Stewardship Coordinator Phyllis Ashmead, six students from THS helped volunteers from Sumerville High School restore a meadow that had been trampled by cattle and overgrown by non-native plant species. Our job was to cut willow branches and then plant them over a foot deep along watershed channels in the hopes that they will grow and prevent further erosion and trampling. Only time will tell, but our kids did an awesome job! Of note: We actually parked next to a small grove of planted Giant Sequoia trees that have several hundred years to go before they get huge.
PCTA Trail Crew -
Ebbetts Pass Area
This trip saw THS WildLink Alums Cody & Austin being wonderful stewards of the environment by helping to repair a problematic section of the Pacific Crest Trail between Eagle and Pennsylvania Creeks. The work was hard, but very rewarding and the camp food was marvelous. Austin & Cody got to relay their stories of hard work and stewardship to their peers in hopes of encouraging them to join WildLink in future years.
Fahey Cabin Site -
Stanislaus Natl Forest
The fledgling WildLink club helped clean-up brush from the North Fork (Tuolumne RIver) Day Use area, as well as cleared old wood from the Fahey Cabin site in preparation for a summer restoration. A bit of sweat, and some old fashioned muscle got the sites ready for the summer.
WildLink/TEAM Leadership Conference
Crane Flat, Yosemite
Six representatives from THS met with about 20 representatives from the Bay Area to discuss wilderness stewardship and promote youth leadership. Several very chilly nights were spent at the Crane Flat YI dorms (4 degrees F!) and lots of wonderful leadership exercises were conducted. Towards the end of the trip, the gang, myself and Mrs. H did some private sightseeing along the valley floor . The Frozen waterfalls were like nothing I have ever seen.