Summer 2023 Recap and Highlights!

Ascend Wilderness Experience has just wrapped up their final outdoor trip of 2023, rounding out their most awe inspiring season yet. In response to community feedback, Ascend went above and beyond their classic summer backpacking excursions and offered a more diverse catalog of free programs than ever before, beginning in spring with the launch of our first ever Spring Break Day Camp and extending into fall with additional Adult Stewardship opportunities for weekend warriors and Board Members. In all, Ascend hosted 6 overnight trips and 4 day hikes for youth including two family-friendly opportunities and 5 Adult Stewardship trips, totaling 50 days in wilderness for youth and adults.

Spring Break Day Camp

Youth Programs started in April this year with the first ever Ascend Spring Break Day Camp. Youth ages 5-14 spent five weekdays during their spring break based at East Weaver Campground exploring the creek and trails on day hikes, eating great snacks, and learning about botany, outdoor ethics, camping basics, and a day in the life of a Forest Service pack mule thanks to guest speakers and presentations. 60 kids attended anywhere from one to all five days of camp and had an amazing time during this unplugged, educational day camp. Ascend cannot wait to continue supporting local families with environmental education by hosting this free 5-day Spring Break Day Camp again in 2024.

Youth Hiking and Backpacking Trips

A wet June and beautiful July saw the majority of Ascend’s Youth Programs adventure into the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area. Three multi-day trips and three day hikes adventured into different areas of the Trinity Alps Wilderness, giving youth the chance to build connections in their groups and within themselves in the unique setting of backcountry wilderness.

3-day Backpacking Trip (Ages 9-11)

A group of eight brand new backpackers joined the beginner 3-day trip for ages 9-11. These brave new wilderness explorers journeyed up to East Boulder Lake, enjoying swimming, exploring the wildlife, day hiking to a patch of snow for sledding in July, and imaginative play around the campfire.

5-day Backpacking Trip (Ages 10-13)

Youth ages 10-13 got a great backpacking experience adventuring up Swift Creek and taking the turn to Granite Lake where they camped halfway along the trail before making it up to the lake the following day. Participants were wowed by the incredible lake and let their imaginations take over playing in the alpine waters, day hiking up to a snow patch where a snowball fight and sledding ensued, and playing games around the fire.

5-day Leadership and Mentor Training Trip (Ages 12-14)

The second 5-day youth backpacking trip was for ages 12-14 and intended for youth who exhibit aptitude or desire to take on a leadership role in wilderness. This trip hiked up and around Union Lake in the cool June weather dodging hail storms, catching fish, playing games, and spending time around the fire. One participant wrote in their journal, “A breathtaking experience for me were the stars last night. I’ll never forget about how many stars I’ve seen. Also bonding with everyone was so special to me. I felt free and proud of myself for pushing myself to hike.”

Youth Day Hikes (Ages 6-9, 9-11, 12-14)

In June and July, youth attended three day hikes, exploring swimming holes and alpine lakes during summer months when a hot swimming day was followed by a rainy hike to a snow covered alpine lake mere days later. These age appropriate days hikes were attended by youth ages 6-15 and were a great way to spend a summer day with peers.

Stewardship Program

In response to community feedback and with support from the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance and Rose Foundation California Wildlands Grassroots Fund, Ascend was able to expand our Stewardship Program, adding one new family-friendly day stewardship day hike and three new stewardship opportunities for adults.

Adult Spring Stewardship Trip – Waldorff Crossing

Ascend kicked off the season with a brand new 3-day Adult Stewardship Trip in May at Waldorff Crossing in Western Trinity County. Volunteers did great work clearing brush, downed logs, and treading over three miles of this trail to the North Fork of the Trinity River. 

7-day Teen Stewardship Work Experience Trip

Ascend Wilderness Experience hosted their 3rd annual Teen Stewardship Work Experience Trip this past June, facilitating seven days of trail work, adventure, and team building in the Trinity Alps Wilderness for eight regional high school students. The group was led by Ascend guide, Danyel Aglipay, FS Wilderness staff Erik Fleitz, with assistance from recent graduate and former Ascend Teen Trip participant Rowan Price, who is now working for the Forest Service on trail crews.

The group base camped at Big Flat Campground in Coffee Creek where they had access to numerous trails that have been receiving attention from other trail work groups, tying into the Forest Service’s plan to utilize volunteer groups to rehabilitate a number of trails in the area. The Ascend team used hand tools to take on the difficult task of retreading a combined mile of undefined trail over swaths of Packers Peak Trail, Lady Gulch Trail, and South Fork Coffee Creek Trail. They also received training on crosscut saw usage while logging out 5 logs that were impeding South Fork Coffee Creek Trail. The crew then ventured into areas of the Trinity Alps that had recently been burned by wildfire, rehabilitating trails by filling holes where burned stumps have created instability and building water bars to improve drainage in areas that are susceptible to erosion. Lastly, these teen volunteers learned about invasive species while pulling about 700 invasive Wooly Mullein, limiting the spread of seeds in the Wilderness Area.

This trip was particularly special due to former teen participant Rowan Price taking part in a professional capacity. FS Lead Erik Fleitz said, “Rowan had been a participant on this annual trip since its inception, so it was great to have him as an assistant leader on this trip, showing how this trip can be a pipeline for local trail workers once they become adults.”

Thank you to the National Forest Foundation for their enduring support of this trip!

5 or 7 day Adult Stewardship Backpacking Trip

Ascend’s Adult Stewardship Backpacking Trip covered an incredible 18 miles from Swift Creek to Parker Creek Trail and Deer Flat trail over to Eleanor and Shimmy lakes brushing, retreading, and logging out 30 downed trees. Adults had some flexibility this year of staying either 5 or 7 days in the backcountry working and exploring with the group.

2-Day Multigenerational Stewardship Backpacking – Canyon Creek

Ascend lead a family friendly stewardship adventure up Canyon Creek Trail, where two families and an eager adult cleared encroaching brush from the trail down to “The Sinks” camp site about two miles from the trailhead. Our volunteers enjoyed incredible views, cooling off in great swimming holes, admiring waterfalls, and enjoying an unplugged night in the wilderness secure with professional guides and content with their volunteer efforts improving the trail for hikers in the Alps.

Multigenerational Stewardship Day Hike

Ascend had a wonderful Stewardship Day Hike in the mist and fall weather clearing brush on East Weaver Trail at the end of September. The views were magnificent and the all ages company on this family friendly hike to East Weaver Lake was wonderful.

Board + Friends Stewardship Day Hike – Poison Canyon Trail

Ascend hosted Board Members and friends on a trip up Poison Canyon Trail, logging out downed trees that were impeding the trail and remove brush from the trail corridor to improve access and keep hikers safe in the backcountry. This trail to Lilypad Lake has been tended by Ascend for the past 3 years and it was wonderful to introduce our Board to the area.

Fall Adult Stewardship Weekend – Rush Creek Lakes Trail

Ascend’s last volunteer trip of the season was a car camping stewardship weekend for weekend warriors who have busy schedules and are just dipping their toes into trail work. Participants joined us from as far as Shasta and Humboldt Counties to learn about using the crosscut saw and clearing trail corridors. This well attended trip performed logouts and brushed Rush Creek Lakes Trail before heading to Poison Canyon the second day to clear the trail corridor for hikers. Thank you volunteers!

Ascend is proud of its 2024 accomplishments and grateful for its incredible volunteers and amazing funders.

In all, Ascend hosted 50 days in wilderness for 162 volunteer participants, 137 of whom were youth. Volunteers and guides monitored over 80 miles of trail in the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area, performing significant trail work on 34 of those miles during Stewardship Program trips. These incredible stewardship accomplishments combined with our adventurous and educational summer youth programs make up the bulk of Ascend’s programs. However, Ascend has begun to engage with youth during the school year, providing outdoor education curriculum during after school and elective courses at Trinity County Schools and during community events like the Salmon Festival in Hyampom.

Have a great winter, and see you next year!