ESCAPE Club Fall Adventures 2023

Our visit to Slide Ranch and a tour of San Francisco

We always love our trip to Slide Ranch! While many of the activities are similar from year to year, it’s new and fresh every time. Some mud and rainy weather were a challenge, but we made it through the day. We started off with goat milking, and some brave souls even tried to taste the fresh goat milk. We visited the bee hives, the chicken coop, and the ducks. Feeding and holding the chickens and seeing their fresh eggs is always a highlight!

We moved on to the garden, where we saw, tasted, smelled, and felt all the variety of leaves and vegetables. Then we took bread dough and shaped it into whatever form we wanted. Some of us put poppy seeds from the garden on our creation. Once it was baked, we enjoyed it warm with some salt and butter!

We finished up the day with a visit to the bone grove, where we saw whale bones, coyote and deer bones, and other local critters. It was a full day, and we were grateful for the gracious and patient Slide Ranch staff!

San Francisco is full of fun things to do, and we try to jam as much as we can into one day. Sometimes it’s just fun to be a tourist and see and do the same things as people from all over the world! We started our adventure at Lombard Street, and then did a loop around the pond at the Palace of Fine Arts. From there, we returned to the new Tunnel Tops Park at the Presidio. The Field Station on its own is full of things to see and do and learn. There’s history, art, ecology, geography– all the things we love best!

The December weather was gorgeous, so exploring Fort Point, and walking across the Golden Gate Bridge were both a treat! Many of the kids chose Fort Point as their favorite stop of the day. They love exploring the four story old building, with its dark corners, and spectacular views.

Wishing each of you a happy holiday season! Hope you are able to enjoy some rest and maybe some time with friends and loved ones. Thanks again for following along on our journeys!
Our videos are a little shorter this year, so have a quick look!

Slide Ranch video

SF Tour video

ESCAPE to Mount Diablo 2023

Our first trip of the year to the summit and Rock City

Another school year has begun and the ESCAPE Club is back at it. We’ve got another full year of adventures planned and kids from both DeJean and Soskin Middle Schools are excited for what’s in store! We kicked off the year as usual with our trip to Mt. Diablo.

We drove up to the summit first, and thankfully, the museum was open because it was COLDĀ outside. The temperature was still down in the 40s and even colder with the wind chill. Despite the clear views, getting back in the car was an easy sell, and we headed down to Rock City.

We always love our time at Rock City because of the unstructured time to explore in small groups, scramble up a rock or into a cave for a better view, or follow a trail somewhere to maybe even feel a little lost! We didn’t get to see any tarantulas, but we did catch a couple volunteer fence lizards. Hopefully they’ll realize the joy they brought to us!

No one was in any hurry to leave, but after our traditional ice cream treat, it was time to head back to Richmond. Student after student asked “When is our next trip? Where are we going?” and we felt like we were off to a good start.

Finally, it’s Giving Tuesday today. As you may know, the ESCAPE Club is completely run by volunteers, and has zero overhead. Every dollar donated goes to taking our students outside to experience the natural beauty of California. If you’d like to help, there are several ways you can support our work. We always can use driver chaperones for our trips. We love to have professional connections to outdoor experiences and careers in outdoor industries. We can use donations of food, clothes, and supplies for our trips. And we always appreciate your financial support. You can donate via our 501c3 fiscal sponsor HERE, or contact us for more direct methods of giving. Thank you so much! Please let us know if you have any questions about supporting us.

See more of our trip to Mt. Diablo and Rock City here!

ESCAPE to Yosemite 2023

It was a wild weekend in our favorite National Park. SO. MUCH. WATER.

You’ve probably sensed by now that this was a unique winter in California and in the Sierras. And maybe you’ve heard about the spring and summer crowds in Yosemite. Well, we experienced both this time to Yosemite. It was a challenge. And it was awesome.

After four years away, we made our way back to Wawona Campground. Since Mariposa Grove was still closed, we spent Friday afternoon in the valley, walking up to a thundering and frigid Yosemite Falls, and catching the most spectacular rainbow on Bridalveil Falls from Tunnel View. The valley looked so different, with its swollen waterfalls and rivers, and flooded meadows. From there, we arrived at our usual campsites along the river, down at the very end of the campground. We set up our tents, and enjoyed the best camp nachos you’ve ever imagined.

On Saturday morning, we ate a hot breakfast and headed back down to the valley to our usual Mist Trail hike. But there was nowhere to park! We drove an hour just to find a little lot with 8 spots and caught the shuttle back to our hike. It was the first of a series of detours in our day.

The hike up the Mist Trail was brutal. There was more water than you can imagine, and it was so tough to get through the “mist” (which on that day was more like a hurricane). But we made it, and decided rather than go down the Mist Trail, that we’d hike up and over the John Muir Trail. It was more climbing, and longer, but drier and safer.

Delays with the valley shuttles and some inopportune rain forced us to order pizza in the valley for dinner, and return to camp in the dark. We were grateful that our tents were dry, and we made the most of the evening with a campfire and some s’mores.

We took it easy on Sunday morning, and headed home, grateful for the experience, and grateful to wrap up a really fun year with this latest iteration of the ESCAPE Club.

Next year will bring its own changes, and we’ll have new challenges, and new adventures. But we’re excited about what we’ve accomplished, and grateful to be able to engage with our community in such a meaningful way. Thanks again for all of your support–your kind words of encouragement, your financial donations, your prayers, your time and effort. We’re looking forward to a new crop of kids and a new year coming soon!

See the full story of our weekend here!

ESCAPE Club spring updates 2023

Our kayaking trip, Point Reyes trip, and new shirts!

Our school year is marching along, with the end now in view! Everyone is so busy these days, but we’re grateful for the opportunity to share these experiences with students. All the angst of planning and meetings and paperwork falls away once we get out on the trips with our students!

First off, we’re excited to finally be wearing our ESCAPE Club shirts for the year. Thanks again to our old friend Keith Dickson for the beautiful design. We have a few extras if you missed a chance to order.

In March, we drove down to Moss Landing, loaded into kayaks, and got out onto the water! It was a gray day, but it wasn’t cold. The kayak company provides life vests and all the clothes we need to stay warm and dry. Of course there was a range of ability (and motivation) to make the boats go where we wanted, but isn’t trying new things what this club is all about? We all paddled around the calm water in the harbor, but then ran the gauntlet against the tide, under the bridge, and into Elkhorn Slough. We saw otters and harbor seals, cormorants fishing under the bridge, and oddly, even a beached shark!

On our way home, we stopped by the wharf in Santa Cruz. We treated ourselves to some ice cream, and watched the sea lions under the wharf.

In April, we returned to Point Reyes National Seashore. For most of the past 20 years, we’ve hiked to Alamere Falls. But for a few reasons, we decided to shake it up this year, and see the more common sites around the park. We started the day walking through the Tree Tunnel, and we took our group shot there. Then we drove all the way out to the point, and walked down (and back up!) the 313 steps to the lighthouse. It was a beautiful day!

Our main hike of the day was out to Chimney Rock. It’s a three-mile loop that looks out over cliffs, and through fields of wildflowers. We saw elephant seals out on the beaches, gophers peeking out of their holes, and an osprey with a fish! From there (after dealing with some car trouble) we ended our day at the beach. We were enjoying the sun and warm sand, and then we spotted a whale out in the distance! It was nice to have some down time at the end of the day.

Our Yosemite trip is coming up very soon! We’re so excited to be back camping again after such a long break! Hopefully there won’t be any issues around flooding, and we’re aware of the issues with Highway 120. The waterfalls will be booming!!!

Thanks for reading this far, and for all your support! We love to hear from you! Videos are below if you have a few minutes to watch!

VIDEO: Kayaking in Moss Landing

VIDEO: Our day in Point Reyes