Thank you for your interest in High Sierra: Natural History Field Studies. If you love the high country this program is special – we will spend six weeks exploring one of the most spectacular mountain areas in North America. Our focus will be the high country of the central Sierra Nevada. The lofty granite peaks, secluded alpine lakes, and flower-strewn meadows are as inspiring to today's student as they were to John Muir, who called it the "gentle wilderness."
Our program is designed to offer participants a unique framework in which to become acquainted with natural history and ecosystems through firsthand experience in wilderness environments. The Sierra provides exceptional opportunities for ecology and natural history studies. You will study principles of ecology and geology and learn techniques to identify the plants, birds, and mammals of the Sierra. Issues concerning human history and attitudes towards wilderness will enrich our ecological studies.
We will meet in Davis, Calif. and drive that day to the central Sierra for orientation, while car camping before starting our first backpack. There will be four course sections: three backpack trips and one short car camping adventure in the Mono Lake area. In between each backpack trip, there will be a short period of unscheduled time during which you will buy your food for the next segment of our journey.
Our hikes have been designed to provide a broad perspective on the natural history of the mid-Sierra Nevada high country. We will travel through mountain forest communities as well as the sub-alpine and alpine zones.
We will visit Yosemite National Park , Mono Lake area, John Muir Wilderness and the Mineral King region located within Sequoia and Kings Canyon National park. The program will end in Davis, California.
Student comments (anonymous) from the High Sierra program evaluation forms:
“This course emphasized learning skills in a natural setting and developing strong bonds with classmates. Without a doubt one of the most positive learning experiences I've ever experienced.”
“Instructor was radical, so funny, great to talk to about anything, lots of cool experiences.”
“The fact that I'm with my fellow students and instructor creates a unique class dynamic I've found nowhere else. In short, you form a more comfortable / deep relationship with instructor which goes hand in hand with a better understanding of course work.”
“This was one of the most comfortable learning environments I have ever been in, which allowed me to ask many questions and be more actively engaged with the learning process. The combination of reading material, lectures, and related environment led to a greater understanding of the material than if I had taken this same class in a building.”
“I feel like my senses have opened up and a new world has been introduced. I feel I have a profoundly improved relationship to nature, and will continue to foster that relationship in the future. Now I have the confidence to go out backpacking on my own trips.