JCHS News

Sophomore Journey: Hiking the Canyons to the Stars

Sam A., Class of 2019
We awaken from our slumber to the rapping noise of our teachers banging on our doors. We were wishing we could sleep for just another hour, but alas, it’s time for breakfast! After some yummy food, yoga with Mr. G, and lots and lots of layering of clothes, we boarded the bus to go to one of the many canyons in Zion for a hiking trip!
We awaken from our slumber to the rapping noise of our teachers banging on our doors. We were wishing we could sleep for just another hour, but alas, it’s time for breakfast! After some yummy food, yoga with Mr. G, and lots and lots of layering of clothes, we boarded the bus to go to one of the many canyons in Zion for a hiking trip!

Our group split up and departed for two different hikes: fast and slow- both five hours long, with the fast hike traveling eight miles and the slow one traveling four. We were apprehensive of what lay ahead, unsure and worried about the strenuous hikes we would soon embark upon.

The moment we started, however, everyone rose to the occasion, helping one another navigate the dangerously slippy slopes. Everything we could see was so perfect it could have been in a postcard; the sky as blue as the ocean, the hills dotted with trees, and the mountains blood red and older then our oldest relatives. The red rocks crumbled away when we touched them; another reminder that we were just passing through a place much, much older then us. Every switchback presented a new challenge, another hill to be conquered, another fear to be vanquished by the dusty nothingness. With all of these natural stimulations, the positive atmosphere, and the great snacks, our expectations of the hike were met and exceeded, to our great surprise!

In the beginning, our natural inclination was to dismiss the hike as another futile attempt to bridge the gaps we all naturally had between one another, but in the end, we were able to move past that preconceived notion and enjoy the experience with each other. 

Once we reached the peak, we enjoyed the expansive view of mountains for as far as the eyes could see--crystal clear skies, and the air so fresh that every breath was an experience. We began the leisurely descent down the rocky hills, each person almost falling off the sheer cliffs 20 times. We all helped one another up after we had fallen, and we cheered our classmates on, which came naturally to all of us with seemingly no difficulty whatsoever. We were just doing what needed to be done to help the collective, an accomplishment I’m so glad we were able to complete.

The two hikes had a rendezvous at the lodge by the canyon, and we both made the quick journey back to our hotel. We got changed for our night activity, donning more layers than we had in any of the past activities. We heard a d'var torah from yours truly, which connected the message of ’saying yes to life’ to our own lives, pulling wisdom and guidance from the parsha on how to open your heart to every opportunity.

After a short dinner, we got on the bus to go STARGAZING--the highlight of the day! We made our way to a grassy field, and lay down next to each other. We didn’t talk-- we were too absorbed in the picturesque night sky that was just a short way above our heads. Eli M. opened our stargazing experience with a d'var torah about what it means to be humble and feel small in life, which was quite relevant as we gazed upon a sky full of gargantuan planets and luminescent stars. Soon after Mr. Brody and Mr. G led a guided astronomical exploration, teaching about the night sky with its many constellations. But to our surprise, as we listened, cuddled, and gazed upon the night sky, we were shook awake from our daze by the sound of police sirens and flashing lights. A cop car had pulled up to the field! Class of 2019 was in trouble, or at least we thought we were. From amber alerts to police cars, we just couldn’t seem to get a break!

But anyway, Officer Webber was quite friendly and quickly went on his way, having happened upon our stargazing session completely by accident. It was just the kind of distraction we needed to make us appreciate the calm night sky even more. Pretty soon, it was time to head back to our comfy motel. As we boarded the bus, I stared up at the night sky one last time, pouring the last bit of my day into the glowing moon, wishing for tomorrow to hold the same wonders I had experienced today. 

The hike and the day as a whole gave us a renewed sense of community, one that had weakened over time and with negative influence. The fact that we were able to pull through as a class is really amazing. Even through the blistering heat and the mind-numbing cold, we stuck together-- for better or for worse. I am so proud of our accomplishments today as a collective, and tomorrow only has more opportunities to bring us together, and to enjoy what this journey has to offer. 
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Jewish Community High School of the Bay
1835 Ellis Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone: 415.345.9777
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The Jewish Community High School of the Bay (JCHS) is a unique college preparatory high school committed to integrating deep learning, universal wisdom, and Jewish values. We empower each student to embrace her or his Jewish identity, generate empathy and compassion, delight in lifelong education, and improve the world.