We set off from San Rafael to Meet Leader D in Ukiah on Monday by noon. Arriving at the Ukiah food co-op by 1:30ish. Ukiah was hot at 104 degrees.
We transferred the bags and half the boys from Heather's truck to Leader D's Van and made a quick stop at Safeway, then continued north up the 101. We drove straight through to Clam Beach regional park just 30min south of Redwood National Park.
We set up at campsite 8, collected firewood and ate sausages cooked over the fire. After we ate, we went to the beach, played some games, and shared themes (like school and drama) that we wanted to leave behind and themes like (swimming in the river and eating good food) that we wanted to bring in for our trip ahead.
In the morning mist we loaded into the cars and drove to the ranger station to pack our bags and get our wilderness permits. We were able to hit the trail early after eating two breakfasts to fuel us through carrying heavy packs.
About a mile and a half into the hike we had a close encounter with mutiny when Leader D and I rejected the notion to set up camp and stop hiking for the day. The boys pressed on, wobbly toed and sluggish until we hit a great lunch spot with a shaded sandy beach and good swimming.
After a long pause we geared back up and hit the trail until we reached our campsite a little after the 5-mile marker. It was a nice long flat stretch of rocky beach with plenty of calm water, shallow and deep.
All the boys’ tents were in a line on the small sandy patch we found and Leader D and I set up a tent down the beach a ways. Everyone was happy to call camp home for the next couple of days and we got settled in pretty quick. That night we ate Mac and cheese (Annie’s mac n cheese, veggies, and avocado) and had a fire with tea and chocolate.
The next day we had a leisurely morning with oatmeal, peanuts and dried fruit (breakfast everyday on the trail). We gathered and got ready for a day hike to a trail call the "big trees loop" about three miles away where the tallest tree in world lives and where the redwoods are all old-growth giants too big to see without moving your head side to side or up and down... they're impressive.
The boys enjoyed climbing on a few fallen trees and exploring through this ancient grove. We had lunch at yet another amazing swimming spot and played in the water for sometime before continuing our hike. Everyone was able to sit for some solo time in the redwoods and then we started our walk back to camp.
We got back to camp just before dinner time walking 7-8 miles in total (without big packs) and having a good time exploring the big trees and seeing more of the creak side trails.
That night we ate burritos with soyrizo, veggies, beans, cilantro and hot sauce. Everyone ate a good fill and we closed the night with a powerful fire conversation about exclusion and "sacrificing" people to gain camaraderie, popularity, or just to get closer with people you don’t know very well.
There were some deep insights from the boys and we came to a good closing before it was time to sleep.
We slept in! ...Until 8:45 and had breakfast. We slowly packed up our tents and bags so we could easily head out after a short walk up the river to a swimming hole where we were to have lunch.
After enjoying some swimming time and lunch, we walked back to our packs and got ready to walk back down the trail a few miles to sleep out under the stars for the last night.
We came to a spot in the river where a tree had fallen. They all set up their bags and mats in a line along the tree and we got ready for dinner. That night we ate pasta with red sauce, veggies and tempeh. We had a small fire where each person had some time to write in their journals and share some things they learned and some highlights of the trip.
In the morning, we rose early, ate breakfast, packed up, and hit the trail. We were at the cars by 9:30am and on the road with a lunch stop at an In and Out in Ukiah until getting back to Fairfax by 4:15ish.
Overall, it was a trip to remember. For the most part, everything went as smooth as possible and we had a lot of fun. Of course, there is so much that happened that would take too long to describe. I hope you are all hearing stories from your boys about the adventure.
Thank you all for the support in making the trip happen and for raising wonderful, deeply compassionate young men!
Leaders M & D