Teacher gives back to community

Photos Courtesy of Scott wayland

Mitchelle De Leon, Reporter

Rapidly descending for 20 miles of Warner Mountains in northeast California on his bicycle, Bakersfield College English professor Scott Wayland approached the Nevada desert as part of a 508-mile journey called Vision Quest that began and ended in Susanville, Calif., last summer. Wayland considered it one of the many memorable moments of last year’s Vision Quest.

Along with two BC students, Wayland combated exhaustion and harsh elements and traversed through unforgiving terrains. He described the experience as a “challenge and reward system,” which required 40 to 60 miles of cycling per day across magnificent vistas.

Wayland has climbed the treacherous faces of El Capitan and Half Dome of Yosemite National Park, hiked and backpacked to numerous peaks, and recorded his 99-day bicycle ride across the country in his book “The Winky-Eyed Jesus and Other Undescribables.” His decades of outdoor experience led him to establish Vision Quest. He said, “I’m in a position where I can share my experiences to people.”

Vision Quest, a Native American term used to describe a challenging ritual to find purpose in one’s life, began five years ago. For the past three years, it has been a charity event, benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project, which provides various services to wounded veterans.

“Whether you support the political motives, you have to remember their sacrifices,” said Wayland.

For this year’s Vision Quest, Wayland planned a different kind of adventure during the summer.

“I’ve been overdosed with cars and traffic,” he said.

Instead of a long-distance bicycle ride, this year’s Vision Quest will involve backpacking, hiking, and some rock climbing. It will begin with a challenging hike to Olancha Peak, the highest peak in the Sierra Nevada south of Mt. Whitney at 12,132 feet.

Beginning at four thousand feet above the sea at the desert floor, Vision Quest participants will face six thousand feet of elevation gain to reach the campsite at ten thousand feet on the first day.

“The first day is very hard,” Wayland warned, “People start having visions.”

On the second day, participants will cross the summit then go on the Pacific Crest Trail then off to a different trail head. Two days of “vertical tests,” or rock climbing, in the eastern Sierras ensue after some rest. A four thousand foot ascent to Boundary Peak at 13,147 feet, the highest point in Nevada, will serve as the adventure’s finale.

Vision Quest is open to all students, faculty, staff, friends, and family members who are fit enough for the grueling experience. Prior to Vision Quest, different tests will examine physical fitness, including a hike to Owen’s Peak at 8,453 feet, the highest point fully within Kern County.

Wayland is also currently writing his second book, chronicling a 90-day journey that had him and his wife pedaling from Alberta, Canada to the Mexican border.

“I like the feeling of creating experience and making sense through wordplay,” he said. “Writing is completely different from the athletic stuff. It satisfies a different part of your soul.”

Contact [email protected] for more information (include a clear subject heading about the Vision Quest 2013).