Program Overview: This Yosemite Field School backpacking course takes you into the rugged terrain of the eastern Sierra Nevada to explore the habitat of an endangered species endemic to these mountains: Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep.
The trip kicks off with a Thursday evening get-together at Tuolumne Meadows Campground, where you’ll meet your guide and fellow adventurers, and review the route, Leave No Trace ethics, and safety tips, including our COVID-19 procedures (see below).
Over the next three days (Friday to Sunday), you’ll head to the park’s eastern boundary to explore bighorn habitat on and around Mt. Gibbs, a journey that includes several miles of off-trail travel and some scrambling across loose rock. In addition to a long weekend of guided high country hiking, you’ll get to spend time with one of the park biologists who leads Conservancy-supported efforts to restore bighorn populations in and around Yosemite. You’ll also get a firsthand look at the technology and techniques biologists use to track the wild sheep, and might even spot some bighorns in their high-elevation home.
Know Before You Go
- When: Thursday, August 26 (orientation at 7:30 pm) to Sunday, August 29. Depart for backpacking trip on August 27 at 8:30 am, return August 29 at around 3 pm.
- Where: Tuolumne Meadows Campground (orientation), out-and-back hike from Tuolumne Meadows to Mt. Gibbs.
- Registration includes: Guided backpacking trip, park entry (as needed), bear-proof canister rental, Yosemite Wilderness permit, and two nights of tent camping at a shared group site at Tuolumne Meadows Campground before and after the trip (August 26 and 29). There is no discount if you choose not to use the included gate pass or campsite.
- Lodging options: Tent camping included. Camping dates cannot be adjusted. No additional lodging options have been arranged for this program, but guests are welcomed to find their own alternate accommodations if desired.
- Experience level: Participants must have prior backpacking experience at elevations above 10,000 feet, be very physically fit, and be ready to carry personal gear for 18+ miles of high-elevation hiking over three days, including some off-trail travel on steep, rugged terrain. We recommend spending a few days and nights at high elevation immediately before the trip, to adjust to the altitude.
COVID-19: We have implemented special safety measures to keep participants and instructors safe during the ongoing pandemic. For example, participants will hike single-file and keep moving to avoid crowding the trail, and instructors will stop to offer interpretation only when there is ample space to stay at least six feet apart. Please review our COVID-19 procedures for details.