In July of 2018, seven high school students participated in the California Field School's first trip from Lake Tahoe to Sacramento. Over the course of eleven days, we had lots of adventures, swam, fished (unsuccessfully), and learned about California history.
What did we do?
We started our journey with a visit to the California Indian museum in Sacramento, where we got an overview of California's indigenous people. Then we headed to Lake Tahoe for 1.5 days of orientation, which included a bike ride through a torrential hail storm!
Our ride began down the old stage route into the gold and silver fields of the Sierra Nevada, over Henness Pass. We spent two days biking through the wilds of the upper Yuba river watershed, and along the way we heard stories about the Gold Rush and the experiences of both Anglo miners and miners of color. On the fifth day of riding we arrived at Malakoff Diggins State Park, once the site of one of the biggest hydraulic mining operations in California.
From there we left the Yuba River behind and entered the Bear River watershed, where we learned about modern day gold mining techniques from an amateur miner staying at our campground. We had breakfast with Otis Wallen, who is part of the Save Bear River coalition fighting against a new dam on the Bear River.
We descended from the mountains through the American River watershed, climbing through the canyons of the north and middle forks of the river. The last leg of our journey was a beautiful ride down the 27 mile long bike path along the American River, ending in Sacramento at the confluence of the American River and the Sacramento River. We celebrated the end of our journey with a rafting trip, and said goodbye to the old friends and new friends we made along the way.
One participant said "I liked everything - from the dinners, to the bike rides, from the steep hills we went up and down...if you have more trips like this, I would love to come back...it makes me feel free." The community we built over the course of the trip has separated, but the memories we made will last a lifetime.
We are so grateful to everyone who helped make this trip possible, and we're looking forward to more trips in the future! To get info about upcoming trips please click here to subscribe to our newsletter!
California Field School Trip Leaders: