The trip began on a Thursday morning with about a five hour drive on the famous Route 66. When the group arrived at their campsite, which consisted of cleared land for tents, several tables with a covering overhead, and two bathrooms without plumbing, they quickly began setting up camp. Within the hour all tents were up and dinner was on the way. In order to maintain the camping experience, the students cooked and cleaned in a system of rotating groups. The food was purchased beforehand by the club’s advisor, Mrs. Rasmussen, and taken along on the expedition. Mrs. Rasmussen was the advisor of the trip along with Ms. Upthegrove, the Marine Biology teacher, and Mrs. Rasmussen’s father, Mr. Woo. Dr. D’Agostino and school facilitator Rosa Rochin were also able to come up on the second day of the trip. There was one other adventurer who was present on the trip, and that was Mrs. Rasmussen’s five year old daughter, Anne. Anne has been on several other EMA trips and is known for her endurance and ability to keep up with the Costa Mesa students.
As the first night began to come to a close, temperatures began to drop and the luminous clouds that had cloaked the sky all day finally decided to let it pour. As the rain fell on the barren land, the wind picked up to around 35 miles per hour and the temperature dropped to nearly 20 degrees.
Junior Emily Ly said, “I honestly love the rain, but it was not a great combo with our tents. The wind and rain were super loud and I couldn’t sleep at all because it was freezing. But because it was raining, we were all huddled at the picnic area which brought us all together to play games after dinner, which was ultimately was a great bonding experience over all.”
Friday morning promised a higher temperature along with clear skies. The group ate breakfast, piled back into the two school vans, and were off to their activity of the day, the Kelso Dunes. The Kelso Dunes are a large stretch of sand dunes on the Mojave National Preserve; it was about an hour from the groups’ campground. Students began their track along the sandy slopes and saw the long expansion in front of them, the dunes stretched until the tops of the peaks reached the horizon. The goal for the day was to climb the tallest peak at the Kelso Dunes and eventually, everyone in the group was able to make the 1.5 mile uphill hike.
Juniors Lisa Perlin and Andres Ramirez took a more difficult route up the dune, climbing at a 34 degree angle uphill to reach the peak.
Lisa said, “Andres and I felt incredibly accomplished, we had to do it, our motto the entire trip was “go hard or go home” and we didn’t want to go home.”
Junior Karina Cruz said, “The lava tubes were definitely my favorite part of the trip, it was an unforgettable experience.”
The next morning, the group took a guided tour with a park ranger. The ranger instructed the group about the background on the Mojave National Preserve and also showed the students several hieroglyphs that had been carved on the rock walls by Native American tribes. The tour was finished by hiking through an area of rock known as Hole in the Wall where the natural rock formations had porous holes.
After the guided hike, the Adventure Club departed on a 6 mile roundtrip hike around the Hole in the Wall Mountain. The hike was well received, but difficult according to students and many saw it as a great ending to the trip. The day ended with a chance to see an overlook of the view into valley, and the group was able to watch the sun set through the cliffs. As they returned to pack their things, they had their final huddle around the campfire. The group reviewed the trip and offered their favorite experience as well as one thing that they learned. The night was topped off with Mr. Woo taking the students on an unplanned night hike around the campsite. This gave students the chance to look at the flip side of nature at night as well as giving them a chance to gaze at the full array of stars and consolations.
The last morning the group enjoyed their final breakfast together and departed from the Mojave Desert Preserve. The students left the trip with new experiences and relationships and many are looking forward to upcoming trips, such as the one in May to Bishop in the Sierra Nevadas.
If you are interested in participating in the Adventure Club, the trip is open to all students and meetings for EMA are every Thursday at lunch in Mrs. Rasmussen’s room.