Yosemite National Park is spectacular any time of the year and I had been there in winter, spring and summer with family and friends. But a week at Yosemite in the middle of February with 70 enthusiastic 12 and 13 year old middle schoolers was a different experience altogether.

The buses dropped us at Curry village and we said goodbye to cell phones, laptops, all apple products and motorized vehicles. It was going to be a week of walking, hiking, activities and more walking. Breakfast at 7:10 am, dinner at 5:10 pm sharp. Lunch somewhere on the way.

Cabins at Curry Village
We stayed away from the metal roads and walked among the pine and sequoia trees, along the Merced river, on deserted trails. Wherever we looked we were surrounded by nature’s eternal beauty.  
                                 
A glimpse of the Yosemite fall
Merced River 
Besides the daily hikes, several team building activities were conducted. The kids got to know each other, trust one another and work as a team. A glimpse of some of the fun activities in the next few pictures. 


   

                                                                  


The kids went exploring into unknown territories and learned to overcome their fears. One of the challenges was to dunk your head in the ice-cold freezing water of the Merced river and hold that position for 30 seconds. They braved the chill and did it so sportingly. 

Dunking into the icy cold Merced river
Each day was a new adventure, a new discovery, a new trail and a new destination.
Getting ready to explore the unexplored caves
Mirror Lake
The kids learned about environment and conservation. They learned to eat an apple to the core. They learned to use their napkin – the crumb catcher – in such a way that they didnt drop a single crumb on the ground. They happily picked up the litter the tourists had left behind and were amazed at the thoughtlessness of people who threw plastic and cigarette buds all around. 

Lunch on the crumb catcher
We all learned about endurance when we took up the challenge to climb to the top of Nevada and Vernal Falls. Many of us were first time hikers. But we helped each other along the way and did the 9 mile streneous hike without complaining.

Nevada Falls
View of Vernal Falls on the way back
When in such surroundings, it is easy to fall in love with nature and to learn to appreciate the beauty and tranquility all around. In the brief moments of pauses in the hike, we would silently watch the beauty around us and soak everything in. 

The bridge on the Merced River, The bridge to eternal beauty 

While most people take pictures in such places, there are some who find a perfect spot to describe it all in words. A picture of someone from the group who found a quiet spot to write a journal.

A perfect spot to write in his journal!

I am not a hiker but I love to travel. This experience at Yosemite leaves me very inspired to do more hiking trips in future. Of course, I will take my camera along. 

“In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.” 

― John Muir

Pictures and Narration By Soumi Haldar

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