Sunrise light on a grove of tufa towers emerging from the water of Mono Lake with soft green and dusty-red wild grasses in the foreground, Canada geese in the shallow water with reflections of the rocky towers, and desert hills in the distance.

“Take small steps”

The Urban Semillas group reaches the top of Lembert Dome. Photo by Michael Clausen.
The Urban Semillas group reaches the top of Lembert Dome. Photo by Michael Clausen.

This post was written by Claudia Corona, 2010 Mono Lake Intern.

“Take small steps,” said Santiago Escruceria, the Outdoor Experiences Manager, “that’s the trick to hiking on a steeper slope without losing lots of energy,” and the group took it to heart, suddenly looking like the experienced hikers that we knew they could be.

The group that came to participate in the Mono Lake Committee’s Outdoor Experiences program during the first week of July was composed of high school graduates and kids in their early-20s from Los Angeles. They were all a part of a program called Urban Semillas, a young adult program that teaches students about water and trees, people’s relationship with nature, where their water comes from, and that nature isn’t something that you just see on TV—it’s real—and when they visit places like Yosemite and Mono Lake, it’s ALL around them.

We were hiking to Lembert Dome and Dog Lakes, two places that neither I nor the group had ever been to, so we were all as thrilled as if we were still kids going into our favorite theme park, in our case … Yosemite!

Throughout our all-day hike, I saw reminders of a past not too long ago. Every time I saw the students’ faces light up with the determination to climb Lembert Dome, every time I heard their curious minds asking questions about the surrounding flora, and every time I witnessed their courage when doing the solo walk, it reminded me of my own experiences with the OE program, two and three years prior to now.

I recounted to them that the first time I had realized where my water came from was when I came up to visit Mono Lake during my junior year in high school. I, just like them, was a city kid, without any knowledge of animal species besides squirrels and pigeons, sadly unaware that everything came from somewhere else and that the Mono Lake ecosystem was being affected by our water consumption down in Los Angeles.

Intern Claudia Corona contemplates the view from Lembert Dome. Photo by Michael Clausen.
Intern Claudia Corona contemplates the view from Lembert Dome. Photo by Michael Clausen.

The day went on; they realized that mosquitoes (sometimes considered pesky buggers) were actually a part of a bigger chain of life that fed the dragonflies and in turn the birds. They learned how to hike without disturbing the surrounding flora and fauna, and how to relish nature’s beautiful landscapes and patterns of life. And just like I had, they made their own discoveries about themselves and what they wanted to do with their lives.

I told them that this OE trip to Yosemite was very near and dear to my heart because it reminded me of my own realization during my first trip here; that there was something out there besides skyscrapers and pollution, there was nature’s beauty and life’s wonders. And that now, I was an intern for the very same organization that changed my perspective on the environment. I encouraged them to pursue their goals and spoke to them about the possibility of working for environmental organizations like this one, because they have the potential. Everyone has their own personal mountains to conquer … the trick to climbing them? Don’t give up and “take small, steady steps.”

One comment

  1. Yaay, Claudia!! Well said! It was a special experience for me to be with you on your first trip, climb that peak together, and get the views. Look where you’ve got to now with those steady, small steps! You are inspiring! Thank you and well done!