#NoFilter, Just Nature

“This is beyond me!” Mani* shouts as she realizes how tough carrying a 65L backpack is while hiking up a mountain. Corpsmembers ahead of her would hear her and shout back, “but you’re doing it!” The support and encouragement to move forward was the highlight of this year’s week-long backpacking trip in the Tahoe National Forest.

Backpacking is not an easy feat, it requires physical and mental strength that for some, proved to be challenging. But as a group, Corpsmembers persisted. On our first day, Corpsmembers hiked 1.1 miles to Island Lake. We encountered a friendly camper, Johnny, who showed Radio* how to start a campfire. Radio really enjoyed this so much that he proclaimed himself the “pyro starter” and started all our campfires for the rest of the week.

By next morning, we set foot on the trail to Glacier Lake. This was the toughest trail in the whole trip, this 5.1 hike was moderately difficult, ending with a very stiff climb on a rocky mountain top. But at the top of the mountain was Glacier Lake, which nestles at the base of the Black Buttes in the Grouse Ridge. A site for the heavens. Corpsmembers swam in its deep clear water, freezing to the touch, but refreshing to the soul.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover, everything is a new experience and you don’t know what you like until you experience it.” – Bucko*

Bringing our Corpsmembers to the wilderness allows them to escape and unplug themselves from society.  We find solace in nature, its beauty and sound permits each and every one of us to connect with ourselves. We learn to silence the noises in our heads and meditate to the wind blowing in the distance, the croaking frogs on the other side of the lake, the Black-capped Chickadees singing their pure chickadee-dee-dee call. At night, the cold wind breezes over the warm waters of Rock Lake, causing mist to rise under the bright half-moon. Nature is therapy.

“It was soothing it made you think about life, it cleared your head and gave you free space to think about things in your own life.”   – T*

Around the campfire we made s’mores, played rounds of the game Mafia, and shared scary stories. While we laughed over jokes, we also cried. In this moment of escape, we allowed ourselves to be vulnerable. We held each other’s hands to fight through our own personal challenges in the real world, knowing we had one another for support.

As we approached the end of our backpacking adventure, we felt accomplished. We hiked over 18 miles, visited and swam in 6 lakes, encountered various species of flora and fauna native to this region. The site of Golden-mantled ground squirrels, Brown Bullhead catfishes in the lake, and an abundance of butterflies and bees only reminded us of how powerful nature is to our bodies.

At times of anxiety, we were able to be happy. On a challenging hike, we worked together and encouraged each other to fight through the pain in our legs.  Together we persevered, only to prove how resilient we all can be in different environments. We learned to live in the moment, “#nofilter, just nature.”

*Before we set on our adventure, we gave each other trail names. Mani, Bucko, T, Mo, Radio, Dolfo, and Rosie were the chosen names of our Corpsmembers, Jesus, C-9, and Ya-You were staff and volunteer’s trail names. 

Enjoy more photos below!

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A Weekend at Yosemite National Park - 2018

June 15-17, 2018

Civicorps students and staff spent a weekend at Yosemite National Park, enjoying the outdoors and helping to keep the landscape beautiful. This year, we camped at Wawona Campground, where we set up tents, made s’mores and played games around the camp fire. Civicorps engaged in a service project, with students and staff  removing litter from 100 campsites. We also enjoyed the legendary Yosemite scenery; we swam in the freezing yet refreshing Merced River, hiked Vernal Falls, were mesmerized by the tall Sequoias in Mariposa Grove, and explored the Yosemite Village.

For many of our students, this was their first time visiting the majestic national park.

“Going to Yosemite for the first time allowed me to experience a different side of California’s natural beauty. I’ve never gone camping. I learned how to build my tent, I helped start a campfire and bonded with fellow Corpsmembers over s’mores, scary stories and games.” – A.D., Corpsmember

“On this trip, I learned that nothing can stop me if I put my mind to it. I met an 8 year old boy who did not have legs and was hiking. He inspired me. As long as I have breath and 10 fingers and 10 toes, I am never giving up on my dreams. I learned a lot about myself being in nature.” – Eboni’, Corpsmember Grad, Class of June 2018

“This was my second time going to Civicorps’ Yosemite trip. It’s an opportunity to bond and get to know other Corpsmembers and staff. Oakland can be stressful at times, and this weekend’s trip to nature allowed me to forget my problems and relax for a moment.” – Jorge, Corpsmember Grad, Class of June 2018

Check out more photos on our Facebook Page. #ServeOutdoors

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