Known for adventurous team-building events, the Commercial Development Resources team once again left civilization behind for a taste of the wilderness; this time tackling 18 miles of continuous Class IV rapids on the Tuolumne River. Pronounced “too-all-uh-me,” and understandably referred to as “the T,” this secluded river canyon has a lot to offer thrill seekers and is located just outside of Yosemite National Park.
Led by their fearless leader, Aaron Albertson, these civil engineering experts set out early on a Thursday morning in a 15-passenger high-top van for a town in the central Sierra Mountains called Groveland. There, they stayed at a funky, roadside motor inn where they swam, jumped off rocks in the local swimming holes, and dined together for their annual dinner; enjoying the final comforts of suburbia before embarking on their three-day journey.
“My favorite part was the company dinner the night before the rafting began. It allowed me to get to know everyone in an easy-going environment,” said Associate Engineer, and new hire, Luke Russell. “I enjoyed spending several days with the team during my first week at CDR and found it extremely helpful in getting to know everyone on a professional and personal level. I was able to get first-hand experience of the culture at CDR, and could really see that this company is comprised of a tight-knit team of friends!”
The next morning, the team woke up to meet the rafting company, get the boats loaded up, and start their adventure! The engineers began their whitewater excursion with a light warm-up, rafting through a section called “Meral’s Pool,” and then promptly tested their skills by navigating a highly technical and boulder-laden section of the river aptly named, “Rock Garden,” before setting up camp on a beautiful, sandy beach nearby.
After setting up camp in the 95-degree heat, the group hiked a steep ravine to cool off in some of the natural pools. The pools offered a welcome respite from the heat with clear and refreshing water. When describing the camping area, Principal, Aaron Albertson said, “You don’t even need a tent! There is no dew or bugs to contend with. The night sky is so clear. You just lay a mat down on the sand, and look up at the Milky Way.”
The team, abuzz with excitement from the day’s events, enjoyed the camaraderie afforded to those who surround themselves with the elements. They spent the evening stargazing, swapping stories, and tossing back a few well-deserved libations.
The following day, the team headed out again to face the rapids, taking on a steady chain of challenging plunges, and powerful spouts! Day two began with a fun, and wild ride through “Nemesis,” and continued by dropping 80’ per mile through the treacherous, “Sunderland’s Chute!” After paddling through several other more difficult and technical sections, the group pulled over to explore some of the surrounding areas.
Their exploration took them to several mines, including a peek into a pitch black man-made hard rock mine that they quickly realized was inhabited by bats! This mine was created by one man who spent 30 years chipping and chiseling his way through 200 yards of solid rock.
“When we explored an old mine along the river, it was pitch black and at one point everyone was silent for a few minutes. I’ve never experienced anything like that,” Luke recalled. “It was an eerie feeling in the darkness, unlike anything I had experienced before. I don’t think I would have done something like that on my own!”
Another mine that the team checked out was so tight it required an army crawl to get inside! After taking in so much, our explorers stopped to refuel with a short lunch, and then embarked on another rugged hike to swim in the natural pools and falls before rafting out in the morning.
“The trip, in its entirety, was a thrilling experience,” said Associate Engineer, Arelly Ocampo. “Trust was built on the first day of rafting; I knew I could rely on my team to maneuver through whatever the rapids had in store. My team communicated efficiently, and we were able to enjoy the choppy waters. I also enjoyed cheering on my coworkers as they jumped from extremely high places.”
The CDR team has been on some impressive team-building retreats over the years, and this one was no less adventurous! This group of dedicated engineers does not shy away from a challenge, whether it is on the job or in the wilderness; they have a solid bond of companionship and enjoy spending time together.