A group of students and staff walked from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park, a 225 mile journey, as part of SCU’s Walk Across California course.
THE SANTA CLARA
July 18, 2014
The six of us crouch together under a pine tree, desperate to escape the rain. The thermal shirt I’m wearing sticks to my skin like a wet paper towel, chilling me to the bone with every passing breeze. We’ve been hiking for about six hours in the dark now, right on schedule to see the sunrise. Yet the last leg of this trek, an ascent made possible through the support of cable railings, is far too dangerous to attempt as the rocks are wet. I’m not sure when we will be warm again but one thing is for certain – climbing Half Dome would have to wait.
It is the beginning of summer quarter and we have reached the conclusion of our class, “Walk Across California”. It is offered through the Department of Theatre and Dance and fulfills both the Arts and ELSJ requirement. We completed a regular course on campus in the spring, and are now completing a two-week-long journey in which I, along with 16 classmates, our professor and his support staff, have walked from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park, approximately 225 miles total, just about all of it on foot with a day of biking.
Our usual daily routine involved waking up, eating breakfast, walking, stopping for lunch, walking some more, pitching camp, eating dinner, crashing, and repeating. Almost every other day, we had the pleasure of interacting with people who are making a difference within their respective communities and bettering California as a whole.
We met with urban garden planners, migrant farm workers, Me-Wuk Indians and forest rangers. We met with people young and old, those with much and those with little. The common threads between them did not seem apparent at first, yet were visible by the end of our trip. And while circumstances differed from person to person, they all seemed truly happy.
They were happy, not because they were wealthy, but because they had found a purpose, an occupation, a passion, that was grounded in genuine concern for the joy and well being of people other than themselves.
They were happy because they surrounded themselves with a network of family and friends upon whom they could depend on and vice versa. They shared everything from meals to laughter with the people in this network, and would let anyone join it (in our case only for an hour or two), without hesitation.
They were happy because they maintained a relationship with the earth and gave nature the respect it deserves. They marvel at the mountains, the food bearing plants, the beautiful, free and often abused natural resources most of us take for granted.
They were happy because they have hope. It is very easy to turn on the news, see the violence, the corruption, the greed and the poverty that secretes throughout our country, accept it as the status quo, and become numb to its existence. These people see it too. But they are rolling up their sleeves and doing something about it.
The reality is that while I may very well never see any of them ever again, they will undoubtedly inspire me for years to come.
I recommend this class to any rising junior, sophomore or freshman wishing to take it the next time it will be offered (spring 2016). Much like your other courses, this class meets throughout the week and has a textbook, homework, presentations, a midterm and a final. You will learn about many pressing social and environmental issues that are affecting the people of California. You will also learn about the various ways to define “art”, the intrinsic value of the processes involved in creating it, and how you can utilize these processes to turn the most mundane of tasks into novel adventures every single day.
Then you will walk. For the first few days your feet will blister and your legs will ache. After a week you’ll fall into both mental and physical rhythms. Not too long after that, you will have totally recalibrated your body into the primitive, mechanic vehicle it was engineered to be from the beginning of humankind. Finally, you will enter Yosemite, quite possibly the most breathtaking expanse of land I have ever observed in my entire life. You will be humbled by the waterfalls, mesmerized by the stars, and listen for a secret only the trees can tell you.
In the end, I’d like to think our denial of the Half Dome sunrise was symbolic of the walk and life as a whole. Even though you can come a long way, there is still so much more left to be seen, and not much time to spare.
So take initiative, a leap of faith, and make the journey of a lifetime. You’ll be amazed at what you discover and how truly remarkable most people are.
Gogo Jones is a junior communication major and the Online Editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.