Fall 2019: An Adventure from Start to Finish

Keeping tradition alive, 37 students signaled the end of their summer and kicked off their Caltech adventure on the Y-Hike Pre-Orientation Adventure Trip. The venue for this year’s Y-Hike, organized and led by current Caltech students, was one of the most spectacular places on the planet - Yosemite National Park. A little over half of the participants chose to camp in and hike from the valley, while the others were divided into two small groups for some wilderness backpacking before joining the larger group back in the valley for the remainder of the trip. As in the past, the Y-Hike included new and returning students, undergraduate and graduate students, women and men, and a full range of skill levels, from the novice to the seasoned adventurer.

As the camping group headed for Upper Pines Campground, the backpackers broke off towards Tuolumne Meadows for two days in the wilderness, where one tackled the Ten Lakes Trail and the other followed Porcupine Creek to North Dome. From the valley, the campers did Columbia Rock on the way to Upper Yosemite Falls, checked out the Sequoias on the hike to Tuolumne Grove, explored Tuolumne Meadows, and hit short hikes, including Lower Yosemite Falls and Mirror Lake. Once the group was back together again it was on to one of the most iconic hikes in the valley – the Mist Trail to Vernal and Nevada Falls. The nights were filled with campfires, s’mores, and looking at stars. Many story worthy adventures were had before the early morning pack-up and drive back to Caltech for the start of Orientation. The adventurers returned with friends and a shared experience, ready to face the challenges and rewards of the year ahead.

Back on campus, the Y-Outdoors leaders organized opportunities to get students off campus and back into the beauty of nature on day hikes, and held an Adventure 101 Lunch Talk that provided an overview of great hiking options in the greater LA Area. Twenty-seven people gathered to learn more about great hiking trails, as well as tips and resources for adventuring on their own, while others chose one of the guided day trips organized by our leaders. 19 hikers jumped on our first trip of the term to Ice House Canyon. The challenging hike to the summit of Timber Mountain had great views that made the effort worthwhile. In November, some students headed for the summit of Mt. Islip at just over 8,000 feet and others hiked the ocean side Los Liones Trail to Parker Mesa Overlook. Once again, the steep hike to Mt Islip required effort, but it also offered the nine participants a great chance to get some cooler weather and a change of foliage. Gentle ocean breezes awaited the 14 trekking to Los Liones on a more relaxed hike.

The weekend after finals, 10 explorers eyed the starry skies and expansive desert beauty on the Joshua Tree National Park Camping Trip. The trip offered plenty of opportunities to explore, including hikes to Mount Ryan and Willow Hole, sightings of bighorn sheep, hares, and roadrunners, and two nights camping at Cottonwood Campground. The Geminin meteor shower also provided a fantastic night time spectacle, which was some adventurers’ first views of the Milky Way and shooting stars.

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