FOI has teamed up with Rustic Pathways this summer for four trips themed around the Mono Basin. High School age kids come from all over the U.S. and get community service hours for stewardship work, and also get to hike and explore. Our day of stewardship with the kids started off pulling white sweet clover, a particularly pernicious invasive plant, at the Mono Lake Tufa State Reserve, a State Park threatened to be closed. We made a solid dent along the David Gaines memorial boardwalk, and more groups will be coming out throughout the summer to knock the population back and help control the problem of the weed spreading. The kids switched from weed wrenches to loppers and pruners, and we brushed part of the Lee Vining Creek trail, and got a chance to learn some plants in the Eastern Sierra.
The next day, we hiked up Bodie Mountain, which is a great day hike, with spectacular views of the Sierra, down into Mono Basin, and across to White Mountains. We came down and walked through Bodie State Historic Park, which was saved from the list of State Park closures, and got to explore around the ghost town. Combined with a day of stewardship, the kids get a good opportunity to learn about land management, what’s the best use for the land, the current threat of gold mining in the Bodie Hills, and why we need for protecting places is so important.
All in all, the kids and their group leaders had a great time, the weather was fantastic, and I got to show more folks how awesome the Eastern Sierra is. Bodie Mountain and Potato peak are the highest points in the Bodie Hills, a popular hiking destination in the summer, and a fun ski/snowshoe in the winter. Sitting on top looking out over the area, it is easy to see that the Bodie Hills are a special place, and deserve protection.