Jordan High’s California Explorer Club, under the
sponsorship of Anne Lamont, the Magnet Coordinator, completed another
fascinating year camping, hiking, and learning.
The year began with a four-day trip to Zion
and Bryce National Parks
in Utah. Students and teachers hiked along the canyon
of the Virgin River and up to spring-fed pools at Zion
and down among the red sandstone spires, fins, and pinnacles of the Bryce
amphitheatre. Jesse Ryder was rewarded
with a round of applause for his perseverance on this strenuous hike. Camping
under the stars allowed Christopher Guzman his first glimpse of the Milky Way,
stretched across the sky.
In November, the Explorers took a three-day trip to San
camping above a lake in a county park to the east of San
goes to Jessica Medina and Sofia Oliver for finding all our campers after the
police closed down our school! The Explorers took a short tour of the harbor
aboard an antique yacht, discovered what life was like aboard old sailing ships
and explored a ferryboat at the Maritime
Museum. Old Town’s historic buildings and good food,
Cabrillo National Monument’s lighthouse, and San Pascual Battlefield State Park,
scene of a Mexican American War confrontation, taught students much about life
in California in its pioneer days. At Torry
Pines State Park,
students explored beach, cliff, and woodland habitats with the aide of a guide. As students broke camp
Sunday morning, a thunderstorm took
them by surprise. Tents and bags had to
be aired out and dried at school the next day.
December found the Explorers discovering the upper and lower
desert habitats of Joshua Tree National Park, along with remnants of early
mines and ranches. Students enjoyed
climbing among the chemically eroded granite boulders of the park on this long,
Death Valley, recovering from floods,
attracted the Explorers in January.
Students were able to see kayakers on the shallow lake that filled the
lower valley, a rare sight! Some
students climbed the highest sand dune in the valley, and others descended
quickly to the bottom of Ubehebe volcanic explosion crater, but struggled to
climb back up the steep trail. Students
learned about pioneer immigrants and borax mining, as well. It was such a wet
year in the normally arid park that dew covered the tents in the mornings and
snow coated all the mountains around the valley.
In April, ten Explorers spent a single day among the giant
trees of Sequoia National
Park, breaking a path through the snow to see the
largest tree in the world, named after General Sherman. Some students experienced sleet and frozen
rain for the very first time on their way to the General Grant Grove in Kings
Canyon National Park—“It
hurts! exclaimed Javon Burnett.”
In June, the Explorers packed two and a half days full of
adventures along U.S. Highway 395, which runs below the eastern Sierras. Leaving their campground at Diaz Lake near
Lone Pine early Saturday, students and teachers were able to explore Bodie
State Park, a perfectly preserved ghost town famous for its silver mines (where
they indulged in a snowball fight with Luis Rico and Tony Ingram as rival
leaders), and Mono Lake, where Ranger Calvin Williams from South-Central LA described
the geology of the tufa formations and the importance of water to the area
ecology and the law suits to keep Los Angeles from taking so much water from
Mono and the Owens Valley. A few miles south of the lake, students slid down
the steep snowy slope of an obsidian dome.
For one student it was the first day in her life she had ever touched
snow; “I’m so happy,” Isavel Baynori said.
Miguel De La Torre, club president, warned students that the volcanic
glass had sharp edges that could cut them; Indians once used the site to make
arrowheads for trade. Students stopped
to see a thermo-electric plant near Mammoth and learn about alternative energy
sources before returning to camp.
The next morning, students toured Manzanar
Park, where Japanese-Americans were
interned during World War II—“It was so sad! said
Shaviante Harmon. They also drove
through the Alabama Hills below Mt. Whitney
where Paiutes hid during the Indian-settler war of the 1860’s and numerous
movies were filmed among the picturesque boulders. A quick lecture on the geology of the Sierras
and the Owens Valley
explained the forces that built the landscape.
A visit to a fish hatchery near Independence
and a drive to see ancient petroglyphs (and lots of jackrabbits) in the
tableland above Bishop completed the trip.
None of the California Explorer trips would have been
possible without the support of numerous teachers and friends. Dana Escalante, Terry Colvin, Paul Broughton,
Miranda Manners, Julie Neilson, Janice Belson, B. J. Smith, and Natalie Tran all
helped drive or lent needed equipment.
JROTC kindly lent sleeping bags, and many, many great teachers
volunteered to sub for our drivers when they missed school.