Funds raised will purchase equipment such as: backpacks, boots, tents, sleeping bags, and cooking equipment. Most students are on financial aid or Pell grant recipients and struggle to make ends meet. It is difficult for them to purchase equipment and your generosity will have a significant impact on our students.
Please watch Student personal experience videos
We did it! We completed the inaugural year of the High Altitude Biology course this summer (2022). None of the students had every backpacked before and they loved it!!!! We hiked for 5 days in the Dinkey Lakes Wilderness starting from the Cliff Lake trailhead next to Courtright Reservoir. We arrived at the trailhead on a Sunday and it rained on us that night. We all went to bed about 8pm. Monday was the big day, with about 40-50lbs on our backs we hiked ~ 12 miles to South Lake. We took the Helms Creek trail and were able to see Dogtooth Peak from a different direction. Unfortunately, the rain didn’t leave us. It rained for a few hours during the hike, but we also had some beautiful blue skies with big white clouds. Nine hours later we made it to South Lake. Tired and sore, but feeling great about their accomplishment that day, the students were in great spirits.
Tuesday, we hung out at South Lake all day. One student hiked the Dinkey Lakes trail (about 6 miles), the rest of us hiked around the lake, relaxed, swam in the lake, and I caught one fish. We played the card game spoons but used sticks instead. We laughed and had a great time. The weather was amazing. That night we discussed how the animals and plants have adapted to survive living in high altitude environment as well as how climate change is impacting our forests. Wednesday brought another day of hiking, this time much shorter than day 1. We hiked to Cliff Lake and stopped at the crest, that was a steep hike. We left our packs and climbed Dogtooth Peak and the neighboring peak. The views were amazing. After we set up camp at Cliff Lake, it started raining. The women crammed into one tent to play Chicago, a dice game, and poker using Jolly Ranchers as the poker chips. Thankfully the rain stopped before dinner. We rose to a cloudy day on Thursday. Today we fished. I caught nothing, but the students caught several fish that we later had for dinner. Again, it rained in the late afternoon with lots of thunder and lightning. Card games were played in the women’s tent again. Thursday night it rained all night, a lot.
We awoke on Friday to some water in a couple of tents. This was our last day. We quickly packed and hiked out in the rain back to the van. It was nice to hike in the rain. Part of the hike took us through a burned out part of the forest. No sound at all it was strange. Back at the van, still raining, we quickly hoped in the van, drove to Shaver Lake and ate the best tasting pizza ever. For never backpacking before, the students asked if they could enroll in the course next year and do it again. Several students also had never been hiking and now they say they will start hiking and doing what they can to take care of our forests.
I want to sincerely thank all the individuals that donating money last year to help purchase equipment and supplies. I want to thank the Tehipite Chapter of the Sierra Club and the East Fresno Rotary Club for their generous financial support. I was able to purchase all the necessary backpacking equipment, as well as a couple of dinners for all of the students. Several companies heavily discounted their equipment for this course: Osprey Backpacks, Alps Mountaineering, Nemo Equipment, Cascade Designs (MSR, Platypus, PackTowl, Darn Tough Socks, and Bear Vault).