Saturday, May 31, 2014

VWS Senior Trip to Yosemite

The culmination of four years at VWS comes with a hike to Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.  This year's group of seniors sent over 30 young women to the peak.  This grueling 16-mile round trip hike is the perfect capstone to their Webb career, capturing the strain and strength it takes to get through four years at Webb. The team work and camaraderie required to reach the top are hallmarks of a Webb education.  Congratulations ladies!  Special thanks to Yo-Yo and Melissa for the pictures below.

The falls as you approach Half Dome

 El Cap and Half Dome from Yosemite Valley.  Click to enlarge.

 Melissa, Letitia, Anni, Hailey

 At the subdome, with the cables in the background.  You can see people working their way up the cables if you click to enlarge the photo.

 Melissa and Ms. Lantz at the sub-dome.
 Celebrating at the peak!

Melissa, Kates, and Katie

Coming down.

Friday, May 30, 2014

WSC Senior Trip to the Grand Canyon

For their senior trip, the WSC Class of 2014 hiked from the rim of the Grand Canyon to the Colorado River and back.  The class typically starts before sunrise to avoid being at the bottom during the hottest part of the day.  This year, temperatures were over 100 degrees in the canyon.  Thanks to Daniel, Alex, and Erik for the pictures below.  Click to enlarge any of these photos. 

WSC Class of 2014

The start of the hike at sunrise

Erik about to take flight

The descent

 Erik, John and Evan

John, Skyler and Spencer on the Colorado River

Daniel, Bulat, Mr. Caldwell, James and Devin

Class Advisors: Mr. Walker, Mr. Shin, Dr. Fitzgerald, Mr. Wishek, Mr. Maffris, Mr. Fidani

     From the south rim

Monday, May 19, 2014

Snorkeling at Laguna Beach

It's tough to get away in May with so much going on here on campus, but we managed to get to the ocean one last time this year for a snorkeling trip with Mr. Lawrence.  He took us to Aliso Beach near Laguna, where the waters were warming up and the snorkeling was once again fantastic.

 Jeainny holds a lobster that Mr. Lawrence caught.

 Johnathan diving

 Mr. Lawrence knows all the spots, and this rock next to the beach is a great jumping spot.  Here, Austin launches himself. And then I do.

Monday, May 12, 2014

San Gorgonio (Day 1: To High Creek Campsite)

This hike was awesome in the literal sense of the word: it inspired a sense of both reverence and fear.  The way to the peak was, once again, spectacular.  The forest path lined by centuries-old cedars and mottled with sunlight; the trail above tree line over slopes of rust, tan, and blue-gray; the gnarled junipers defying the elements.  And the wind -- the wind that reached roughly 80 miles per hour on the exposed ridgeline to the summit.  Hurricane force.  Forceful enough to knock every single one of us off our feet.  Strong enough to freeze the water in our water bottles even though it was 40 degrees.  Of all the 10,000 foot peaks I've climbed with Webb students, this was the most difficult.

It was a fitting way for six students to earn -- and I mean earn -- their 10,000 Foot Club medals. The students who made the peak on this hike -- who camped out in freezing temperatures, who climbed 5,500 feet over eight miles -- pushed themselves to their limits.  And they were suitably rewarded, not just with the scenery, but more importantly with the feeling of accomplishment and confidence that accompanies a grueling hike like this.  

As we were watching the sunset on San Gorgonio Saturday night, a phrase came to mind that seemed to capture the many trips we've taken there over the years: reliably magnificent. Just down the trail from the High Creek campsites, there's a spot overlooking the valley that seems to yield spectacular views no matter the weather.  See, for example, the footer at the bottom of this blog.  On this particular night, we watched as the clouds that covered the valley all the way back to Claremont made their way up through a rift in the mountains, obscuring and revealing the distant ridges as they explored the topography of the surrounding area. The students, too, lifted themselves above their surroundings, exploring their environment with an indomitable spirit.

Entering the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area

Flowers for Mother's Day

Ray always brings an appetite for fun, this time in the form of a frisbee.  Last time he went to San Gorgonio, he brought a stripped down skateboard to use as a snowboard.

Lauren, Chris and Dolly.  As the trail ascends, it passes through an old growth forest, accompanied by the burble of Vivian Creek.

Clearing the treeline now on the way to High Creek campsite

Once we set up our tents and ate a hearty dinner (Why does food always taste better outside?), we were treated to the sunset clouds rolling up the valley.

It's not too often that we get to sit with silence.  A group of us sat for about 45 minutes Saturday night watching the clouds.

Dolly found a nice perch to watch the show.

Sunset Saturday night.  For the hike to the summit, see the next post.

San Gorgonio (Day 2: To the Peak and Back)

After a somewhat restful and somewhat restive night listening to the wind, we awoke early and commenced our climb to the peak.  To join the 10,000 Foot Club, students must hike all three area peaks over 10,000 Feet: Baldy, Jacinto, and Gorgonio.  On this particular trip, six students joined the club! 

David, Devin and Susan moving toward the ridge.

A nice spot for a rest, with a view back over our route.
Lauren is particularly excited to reach the ridgeline.  She did an excellent job leading the group for most of the hike -- the perfect pacesetter.  Shortly after passing this sign, we crossed through a narrow saddle and onto the exposed part of the ridge.  This is where winds hit 80 mph, and all of us struggled to make it to the very top.  Because we were battling the wind, a section that typically takes about three minutes to walk took us about fifteen. 

But we made it! San Gorgonio -- 11,503'

Members of the 10,000 Foot Club.  Front row: David, Dolly, me, Lauren, Mr. Owers. Back row: Susan, Bulat, Devin, Johnathan.  David actually joined the 20,000 Foot Club on this hike, having done every peak twice! Right after taking the picture above, the wind knocked the top row over (below).

 We may have been away on Mother's Day, but we didn't forget.  Thanks to Dolly for creating and carrying this sign!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Camping at Joshua Tree

Mr. Maffris led his annual spring trip to Joshua Tree this past weekend, once again showing Webb why he's the master of the desert.  There are probably places in Joshua Tree that only Mr. Maffris knows about.  Full of hiking, bouldering, photography, and star-gazing, this trip is always a winner.  Thanks, too, to Max and Alex for these photos.

A shark in the desert?


Front row: Max and Cat.  Back row: Ms. Qu, Mia, Alex, Ms. Bauman, Mr. Maffris