Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Big City Mountaineers

I spent the 16th to the 22nd on a Big City Mountaineers trip to the Lillian/Jackass/Chittendon/Vandenburgh Lakes area in the Ansel Adams Wilderness & Sierra NF. The kids were (mostly) from an Oakland org called What Now America? (the name makes no sense to me either, and I even had the founder try to explain it to me.)

There were 5 adults (one team leader with WFR training, one guy from the org (WNA) that already knew some of the kids, and three regular volunteers) and 4 kids (usually 5, one couldn't come at the last minute). I don't think it was a radically life-altering experience for anybody, but I do think it was definitely a good experience for everyone in terms of character-building. Along those lines, it refreshes my anger that Boy Scouts is a bunch of bigots, because if a week-long trip can help kids out, then imagine how much seven years of this stuff could do for somebody.

Despite the trails being lower, dryer, and dustier than I'd prefer, and despite only hiking 25 miles all week (I did a lot of reading (see last post) and listening to podcasts to fill the time), I had a lot of fun. I really enjoyed moments when the kids emitted spontaneous comments showing they were clearly enjoying it like "Oh my God that lake is beautiful" or when they were scared by a group of grouse taking sudden thunderous flight from right beneath their feet. The trip wasn't rigorously structured, which I thought was good--plenty of time for the kids to try and catch tadpoles or whatever.

I don't get along with small children very well, but these kids were 12-16 and can thus appreciate sarcasm, so we had a good time telling momma jokes, accusing each other of snoring/farting, me telling bear stories, and them telling rough neighborhood stories.

I'd definitely do it again, and I'd definitely recommend it to my hiker-trash friends. Here are some pics (with the kids small enough that they're unrecognizable, since, uh, my blog is public.)

Tenuous life on a boulder

Snowpatch on the way to the pass near Sing Peak--the kids' big hiking challenge

Me from the pass, Minarets, Banner & Ritter on the horizon

Vandenburgh Lake

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