The Wild(erness) Bunch

Joy Sawyer Mulligan
By paddle or saddle, in boots or water booties, wet-suited, t-shirted, or fleeced-to-the-max, students and faculty sallied forth to points all over California for a short week of communing with nature.

By paddle or saddle, in boots or water booties, wet-suited, t-shirted, or fleeced-to-the-max, students and faculty sallied forth to points all over California for a short week of communing with nature—the first of the year’s two wilderness trips. Whether the trek was one or two uphill-and-downs (most of the 9th graders at Golden Trout Camp near Mt. Langley) or uphill-downhill-uphill-downhill-and-do-it-again (one of the trans-Sierra marches), through meadow or across a pitched field of shale, most campers felt their boundaries expanding along with their lungs. The views, magnifico (of the Pacific Ocean from a high point on Anacapa Island or from along the Pt. Reyes pathway, or of the Owens Valley from Windy Gap); the tactility, delicious (an arctic plunge at the edge of Muir Lake or a toasty dip in a handy hot springs, the heat of the GTC campfire flushing your face, the sweat of the climb over Kearsarge or Colby Pass evaporating in the breeze of trailside rest); the memories, life-lasting.

(Don't miss photo albums in the Media Gallery of Ms. Mully's Trip and Mr. Pidduck's Trip.)

And even in the cyclone known as the first week of classes, several students and teachers made time to submit a 6-word EDT Memoir, a Hike-u (Thacher’s version of “haiku,” courtesy of Chris Land, Director of [Clever] Communications), or a more extensive report of their restorative time in the wilds.

Lauren Bosche, of her all-seniors trans-Sierra trip with Fred Coleman from Kernville to the Cottonwood Lakes trailhead: 5 days, 60 miles, cold oatmeal

Her classmate Michael Stenovec was both author—blisters make the foot grow stronger—and subject, in this poem by his trail (and trial) compadre, Nick Orr. (See if you can tell which photo accompanying this story tells the tale, as well.)

Haiku for Michael

Really funny face

the iodine tastes funny

it's about the friendship

 Just back from his year-long sabbatical in Bristol, England, Austin Curwen captured his several days in this vertical offering:







Of her time spent under blue-black, starry skies, co-leading (with faculty member Phoebe Larsen) her freshman prefectee group, Lauren Rosenfeld '10 submitted this alliterative beaut:

lo's ladies laughing out the constellations

Also a senior, Sarina Patel energized her verbs:

sheer Sierra mountain wall

rears over whooping

noon boys daring glacier lakes

. . . while junior Patrick Teague aimed at a kind of minimalist purity in his rendition:







As for his island time-away, faculty member John Bueti had this homophonic observation:

Santa Cruise Eye Land We Treat

Hooper’s Highlights from faculty leader Kara Hooper, who took her band of students backpacking along the Kern River in the eastern Sierra, were these:

•eating freshly caught rainbow trout from the river-- from river to pan in 1 hour!--courtesy of Sebastian Schell and Casey Wyman

•making it up a pass to the beautifully lush Casa Vieja Meadow after 3 hours of climbing with three hikers who weren’t feeling awfully well

•jumping into the spine chilling frigid deep pool waters at the foot of a waterfall near the mouth of Nine Mile Creek--after Marquis Warren stood in chest deep water for twenty to twenty five minutes helping every other person in our group negotiate an incredibly slippery and difficult rock outcropping that had to be climbed.

Rich Mazzola shared this Fauna Surprise: Exhausted on our way back down from Langley, we were graced with the best reason for a brief rest that we could hope for - a doe and her two fawn bounded through the meadow just below Cottonwood 1.  One fawn leapt across the trail just in front of us to reach safety in the cover of a cluster of trees, but the other fawn was hesitant to make that bold move and so turned back to the meadow, and his mom protectively trailed him.  We stopped in our tracks and stood in silence, eyes and mouths agape.  After a few moments, the group of boys continued down the trail to let the doe and fawn join their family member in the trees.  Before I left the meadow, I turned and looked back just in time to see the fawn try to sneak a sip from his mama.  I tried to take a picture but the image blurred a bit because before the fawn even came to a stop, the doe nudged it away and then leapt into the trees to lead her child to safely join his awaiting sibling.

Joining Brian Pidduck, Director of the Outdoor Program, on a hike through parts of Sequoia National Park was senior Tim Reed. It was about halfway through our trip. We had just had a long day of hiking, with quite a bit of elevation gain and loss, and we were planning to camp at Little Five Lakes, and go up and over Blackrock Pass the next morning. However, Mr. Pidduck had the idea to just power out the pass right after dinner, and bivouac (which means just camping wherever, and making do with what ya got) at the top of the pass. Instantly, I was stoked. I mean, how sweet would it be to get to the top and see the sunset, and then wake up to the sunrise just by turning in your sleeping bag? Galvanized, we booked it, and I mean booked it, up the pass in under an hour. We got to the top, and my oh my, it was spectacular. Literally, I felt like I could see everything in the world. Looking the way we had just come, I could see Mt. Whitney off to my left, and on my right, Mt. Langley, and the entire San Joaquin Valley. Then, simply by turning 180 degrees right as the sun set, I could see past Fresno and all the way to the coastal range. Amazing! Now just imagine that with the sunset and sunrise: spectacular. A top-ten moment without a doubt, and a quintessential Thacher moment, too.



Photography: Lauren Bosche ‘10, Dan Hu '11, Jade Lopes ’12, Nick Orr ‘10, Chris Yih '12, Pete Fagan, John Lin, Rich Mazzola, Peter Sawyer, Joy Sawyer-Mulligan, Theana Snyder, and Chris Vyhnal.



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