Every May for the past three decades, fourth grade classes at Chabot Elementary School in North Oakland have embarked on what has to be the best elementary school field trip in the region: a three-night camping trip to Yosemite National Park, the jewel of the US national park system. The nine- and ten-year-olds, along with parent chaperones, pitch tents, barbecue their own meals, roast marshmallows, and tell scary stories by the campfire. Plus, they go on a ranger-led walk through Yosemite Valley, before taking a dip in the gorgeous Mirror Lake at the foot of Half Dome. But the real highlight of the trip is a butt-kicker of a hike up to Nevada Falls. It's a trek — a 2,000-foot-elevation climb, along the Mist Trail, past the spectacular Vernal Falls — but the vast majority of young students make it to the top every year (oftentimes, all the kids from all three fourth grade classes make it). And when they do, they're treated to some of the best views on Earth.
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