ESCAPE to Yosemite

A weekend in one of the most magical places on Earth.


Our year of excursions always culminates with a weekend camping in Yosemite. A million moving parts and details make this trip the most daunting of all. The weather forecast threatened afternoon showers, but we were spared from any of that. We weren’t sure we’d be able to get all our teachers away from campus in the morning, but team DeJean came through, and all 55 of us got away Friday morning.

Since Mariposa Grove remains under construction, we were forced for the third year in a row to find an alternative for Friday. Tuolumne Grove, near Crane Flat, served as a worthy replacement. It’s got 25 Giant Sequoias, and just a 3-mile round trip, so that did the trick. We gazed up at the sentinels of the forest, and climbed on and through those that had fallen. It provided us a good opportunity to interact with the trees a way that was really good for our group.

We took our obligatory group shot at Tunnel View, and hung around long enough to watch a misty rainbow climb up Bridalveil Falls. Then it was on to Wawona to set up camp.

Nights are chilly in Wawona, but the morning sun, some hot chocolate, and a little more campfire got us going. We enjoyed an eggs & bacon breakfast, and headed down to the valley for the day’s adventure.

With most of the construction finished in the valley, we had no trouble finding parking (after last year’s misadventures), and we headed up the Mist Trail to the top of Vernal Falls. Some kids power up the trail, and we have to hold them back. Others need more urging, or some sympathy, or some patience. We all learned a lesson about resilience and grit, as the slower kids, taking one step and a time, finally reached the top. We appreciated their model of perseverance that we all need to see once in a while.

Activities around camp included games, swimming the icy river, s’mores, glow sticks, or just hanging out in the hammocks. It was great to have some unstructured time to run around, explore the area, or just sit and talk.

Sunday morning was much slower paced. We slept in a bit, enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, and started to pack up camp. We wandered down the river for a while, scrambled up and down the boulders, and skipped rocks across the water. We ended our time in camp with a circle where we shared our memories of the weekend, and some appreciations of each other.

All in all, it was another fantastic trip. It was a treat just to be together, but the fact that it was in the jewel of our national parks made it a true weekend to remember. Our media team sifted through hundreds of stills, and hours of video from the three days, and worked quickly to get a video put together. Feel free to check it out below.

So many folks to thank–from the chaperones who give their entire weekend, to those who finance the trip, those who help prep/pack/unpack, to those who pray and offer words of encouragement, and even to some who made homemade cookies for us to enjoy far from home. We are grateful for each one who had a part in this.

Our final trip to the Oakland Ice Center is already upon us, and all the year-end activities are stacked up in the coming days. You’ll be hearing from us again soon! Thanks for reading!

Re-live all the sights, sounds, and memories here!

ESCAPE to Alamere Falls

A fantastic hike along the coast to a most magical destination.

After last year’s experience, we were hesitant to go back to Alamere Falls. But we’d put it on the T-shirt, so we kinda had to try it one more time. We made a point of meeting and leaving earlier from the school, and it made a big difference.

We actually got the last parking spaces in the lot, which was great. (Later, we saw cars parked over a mile away down the road!) There was no line at the bathroom, and the kids were great hikers. As usual, we enjoyed all the little microclimates along the way–sweeping vistas down the cliffs, damp areas around ponds, shady rainforest areas, and more.

The shortcut scramble down the cliff to the falls was crowded, but not unmanageable. And although the tide was high, the sun was bright and warm, and it was nice to be around the spray from the falls. Several kids got all the way in. Others enjoyed chasing around on the beach, digging in the sand, or just relaxing in the sunshine.

The walk back to the cars is always a little slower, but clouds had moved in, providing us a little shade, and we were blessed with a wonderful tamale meal with cold drinks and cake in the parking lot. The day was such a positive experience–the way we remember it being, so maybe we’ll keep it for now.

Our year comes to a climax this month with our camping trip to Yosemite. Let us know if you’d like to join in the fun!

The smiles in this video… Such a fun time at the falls.