Six students and four Pioneer High School staff embarked on a summer adventure into the Desolation Wilderness. The three day, two night trip was put together as a pilot program to expand the school’s outdoor activities during the summer. Most of the students who volunteered for this adventure had no backpacking experience and were a bit unsure of what they were getting into, but they were excited to see what the Tahoe area had to offer.
The first day students worked together to load their packs with equipment and provisions for the trip. After a short water taxi ride on Echo Lake, they hiked along the Pacific Crest Trail to Tamarack Lake to set up camp. The next day after a short exercise in map reading, the group adventured up to Ralston Peak to take in some amazing views of Lake Tahoe and the entire Desolation region. PHS student Summer Cardwell summed it up at the top of the peak by saying, “That was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but WOW.”
Kaysie Beauford, a new ninth grade PHS student, stated, “Going on this summer trip helped me build relationships with my fellow classmates. It was nice to be able to start at a new school knowing people. I was able to get to know the staff at Pioneer and see how much they really go out of their way to make sure that all the students here are supported. It was a fun experience and I hope we can do it again this coming summer, so new students can have the same safe and welcoming experience that I had joining the students at PHS.”
After a hearty dinner and a planning session for the hike out the next day, the group settled in for the night. The hike out took the group along a trail near Angora Peak toward Fallen Leaf Lake, where their vans waited to take them home. The trip was put together to expand Pioneer High School’s outdoor program with the goal to teach skills to students to help them navigate and enjoy the area around them. The project this year will help guide the students to research and plan up to three short trips next summer.
Cary Jordan is a counselor and Leadership advisor at Pioneer High School.