Stories from the Field

2017 Yosemite Alcoa Scholars: Backpacking in Yosemite

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After spending the first half of the week in Crane Flat, our Alcoa Scholars headed to the backcountry of Yosemite to explore the wilderness. The 39 Scholars were broken up into three smaller “trail groups” who they’d be camping with for the six-day backpacking trip. Each group headed into a different portion of the vast park, getting the opportunity to see a unique feature of Yosemite. Read on to learn about each trail route and its respective explorers!

TRAIL GROUP 1 – Yosemite Creek to Tenaya Canyon #

NatureBridge Educators: Jenn & Avi

Scholars: Emily, Holly, Dayna, Bethanie, Nora, Ashlyn, Ozike, Xana, James, Alexi, Zalan, Dadi and Daniel

Jenn & Avi’s trail group started hiking downhill along Yosemite Creek, making their way to Yosemite Falls. Once there, the group camped above the falls where they had access to majestic views of the valley and high country.  The group then passed North Dome, going past the Yosemite Valley and Indian Ridge, finishing up along the Snow Creek Switchbacks and Tenaya Canyon.

Yosemite Falls
Yosemite Falls/Photo: Yosemite Hikes
Tenaya Canyon, Yosemite National Park
Tenaya Canyon / Photo: randomSPACE @jensenl

TRAIL GROUP 2 – Little Yosemite Valley to Backside of Half Dome #

NatureBridge Educators: Natasha & Lawrence

Scholars: Jordenne, Emma, Aoife-Ruby, Luca, Alvilde, Aida, Megane, Reegan, Riley, Thomas, Giovanni, David and Bjorgvin

Scholars in Natasha & Lawrence’s group started in Little Yosemite Valley, following along the Merced River and then going up the John Muir Trail to the backside of Half Dome. This trail group will have the opportunity to observe and explore burn areas from the 2013 Rim Fire, which burned 257,314 acres and lasted almost one year.

Little Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park
Little Yosemite Valley / Photo: Yosemite Hikes
Half Dome, Yosemite National Park
Half Dome/ Photo: SLAB

TRAIL GROUP 3 – Tuolumne Meadows to Clouds Rest #

NatureBridge Educators: Haley & Janaki

Scholars: Esther, Kaitlin, Nyah, Fatima, Virginie, Elvira, Andrea, Sara, Thomas, Scott, David, Adam and Daniel

The third trail group, led by Haley and Janaki, started in Tuolumne Meadows, hiking along the John Muir Trail through the High Sierra camp and into Yosemite Valley. The group took a day trip into Clouds Rest, a mountain whose proximity to the valley gives an impression of breathtaking elevation. 

Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park
Tuolumne Meadows / Photo: flickr
Clouds Rest, Yosemite National Park
Clouds Rest / Photo: Dave Miller

Tomorrow, our Scholars return from their backpacking expeditions. Stay tuned for our wrap-up blog and photos of their journey!

To view more pictures of what our Scholars have been up to, make sure to follow our Facebook page!



The Alcoa Scholars program, hosted by NatureBridge and Alcoa Foundation, is an immersive, two-week environmental science program that allows high school students to learn and grow in some of the world’s most beautiful protected lands. 55 students from Alcoa communities around the world explore the wonders of the natural world in Yosemite National Park and Shenandoah National Park through backcountry exploration, hands-on science experiments and research, outdoor experiential learning and social emotional learning activities designed to connect Scholars to nature, sustainability, and each other. The Alcoa Scholars converge from different nations and backgrounds to form a community of environmental stewards that will explore environmental issues from a global community's perspective.

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