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Yosemite 3 • June 16-July 6, 2021

Surfs Up in Northern California!

June 20, 2021

Hello from Yosemite! It is hard to believe we’ve been able to fit so much in these past four days in gorgeous northern California. Truly, it would not have been possible (or as enjoyable) without this group of stellar students. Picking up all the kids (as we call them, despite their being rather mature) from the airport in San Francisco, it became immediately apparent that we had a dynamic and cohesive group; those awkward moments of feeling one another out on a trip with strangers hardly existed with this crew. After driving to our first campsite of towering redwoods, we had some delicious pizza from the local food stop and pitched our brand-new tents for the first time; Lucy M, a Moondance veteran, showed off her backcountry skills by putting the tent together better than me (Keely) and Max and teaching us a thing or two. Since the students are unplugging on this trip, watches included, Max has decided that anytime anyone asks him a question about time or distance, he will simply reply “seven” with no units, so it has since become our only quantity of time and measurement on this trip.The next morning, we set off like a herd of turtles to Pacifica Beach, where our floppy-haired surf instructors James, Russ, and Allen got us into wetsuits suitable for Mission Impossible and taught us how to surf on land, using lingo like ‘surface area’ that tested our geometry and physics knowledge. Despite most of our failed first attempts at riding the waves, Janie sailed off almost immediately, making it look way too easy. Lucy M and Belin were not far behind and “ripping the gnar” all the way to the sand. Lucy B outshone all of us with her stylish wetsuit cap that covered her entire head. Beckett was intent on pursuing the biggest waves and the biggest ones only, while Mercer won the award for most entertaining falls. After sandwiches on the beach, where we witnessed a dog walk straight into a Taco Bell by itself (to get a burrito, we presumed), we took a small walk on the Devil’s Slide cliff side trail to see a World War II bunker (thanks to Beckett for his mini history lectures) and the 86-year-old trail docent who proudly claimed to be “retired but not expired.” Later that night, after a much-deserved rest and enchiladas, our first Leaders of the Day (LODs) Lucy M and Mercer opened our Moon-up with a Bigfoot sighting (allegedly). We are still on the look-out.The next day commenced our second surfing lesson. We improved significantly on our flip ups, learned surf etiquette, and said goodbye to our rad instructors to head into southern Yosemite. Alas, our four-hour road trip became seven due to traffic (not due to Max’s commitment to the number seven, he promises). The kids made the most of it by singing along to Taylor Swift, broadening their music horizons with Max’s Nigerian jazz playlists, playing 20 questions, and enjoying a few grocery store trips to search for the elusive jackfruit. We came out with a monster box of goldfish somehow instead. Belin continued to keep us on our toes with her unexpected and impressive accents and Weird Al Yankovic song recommendations. Despite our late-night arrival to Yosemite, the group kicked into gear with their newly acquired knowledge of Expedition Behavior, and our intrepid cook crew Belin, Elena, and Janie whipped up some delicious BBQ sandwiches in no time. Thanks to Mercer, our human garbage disposal, we have had very few food scraps to throw out— how sustainable of him! Our second LODs of the trip, Janie and Beckett, had us thinking existentially with their question of the night: if you could live only 80 years or 5,000, which would you choose?This morning we woke up to an intense heat wave, but our crew has yet to complain about anything, only communicate their needs. Luckily, there was a pleasant breeze and shade in the Sierra Mountains, where we started our first day of rock climbing with experienced leaders Tobias and Kevin, who has climbed El Cap no less than six times.  Lucy M and Mercer, those brave mountain goats, scurried up the granite face so fast that we hardly had time to cheer them on, but they went twice to give us another chance. Janie showed off her rock-climbing prowess, earning a compliment on her belaying skills from the illustrious Kevin. Lucy B, a dancer by trade, made her way delicately up the mountain, making us all wish we were as flexible and graceful on the rock. Both Belin and Elena showed some serious endurance and grit by ascending the harder of the two ropes and hanging on to make challenging moves. For having so many beginner climbers in the group, the kids absolutely killed it.After the heat wave reached a high of 108 degrees, we rejuvenated ourselves with Gatorades and a jump into a gorgeous river in THE Yosemite Park. Money could not buy that first dunk into the cool crystal blue water and the ensuing laughter of the Croc Gang as their feet persistently floated to the surface (sponsor us, Crocs!). We finished our last night in the front country with decked-out burgers and salad served in exclusively country accents and a lesson on how to pack our backpacks. LODs Lucy B and Elena did an amazing job planning our busy morning tomorrow and delegating tasks to smoothly move out of camp and into the backcountry; it is exciting to see how this group is already taking so much responsibility and ownership of their trip.The next time you’ll hear from us, we’ll have seen the sun rise on El Cap and jumped into many more pristine creeks and lakes. Until then, adventurously yours,Keely and Max


  • Beckett
  • Belin
  • Edward
  • Elena
  • Jane
  • Lucy
  • Lucy