Vamos a Yosemite Con LandPaths
By LandPaths Staff
October 7, 2021
Story by Senior Bilingual Field Specialist Guadalupe Casco
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We arrived at Yosemite around 4:30pm. We set up camp and began our preparations for dinner. After dinner, staff member Lesly led a night hike to explore the sounds and views of the star-lit sky and mountain climbers that could be found by spotting their flashlights along the granite rocks that surrounded our camp.
On Friday morning we all woke up with the sunrise, made breakfast and packed a lunch for the first full day of our adventure. We were all scheduled to volunteer at the Indian Village of Ahwahnee and around the Cultural Center. Due to the pandemic the buildings were closed but, we were able to help clean the trails around the buildings, dust the displays and help rebuild a wooden post fence and acorn granary.
After stewarding the grounds, our project coordinator, Ben, taught us about some of the tools and customs of the Ahwahnechee people. We also learned about the ceremonial long house, the bark houses and the ecological and cultural importance of oak trees and acorns. We helped collect acorn on Friday and Saturday for a restoration project at Yosemite.
Most of the group, including the children, also signed up for an extra volunteer project called Facelift. After we were done at the Cultural Center we kept on exploring all the while collecting acorns along the way and picking up trash from the trails.
LandPaths also sponsored Junior Ranger booklets for the children and teens who wanted them. Along our hike breaks we spent time filling out the booklets and encouraging the children to fill out as much as they could. The Junior Ranger Badge at the end and getting sworn in as Junior Rangers was motivating!
On Saturday we grabbed our acorn box and tools for the Facelift project and continued our exploration of Yosemite. We walked along solitary trails keeping our eyes and ears open for what we might see and hear. Lesly led us on a rock scramble adventure that was the highlight of many of our participants.
“The rock scramble activity is something that is not easily forgotten. It was my favorite part of our adventure,” said Jose.
Then we walked to the Merced River and spent some time playing in the water and soaking in the views. In the evening before returning to the main camp, we met up with a Park Ranger and the children turned in their Junior Ranger booklets. We witnessed the kids become Junior Rangers as they thoughtfully answered the Ranger’s questions about the park and shared their observations. It was a wonderful and inspiring moment seeing them receive their badges and promise to take care of Yosemite for many years to come!
On Sunday, our last day, we packed up our camp and held a closing circle before heading to see El Capitan. We spent some time by the river and watching the rock climbers that were determined to get to the top. We used binoculars to count all the climbers we saw. Around noon we made our way out of the park and caravanned home.
A big thank you to Yosemite National Park, Community Foundation of Sonoma County, Yosemite Park Ranger Shelton Johnson, Volunteer Program Manager with Yosemite National Parks Sally Martinez, and Latino Outdoors Founder José González for helping to make Vamos a Yosemite happen, and to Mark at REI Santa Rosa for offering sleeping bags at no cost for rental!
Ximena, age 10, Vamos a Yosemite participant
" I never want to leave; I want to live here forever! "