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  • Long Trip Day 1

    Today we set out for long trips. The drive was surprisingly short from Vermont to New York, but I enjoyed the feeling of sitting on my bum and being driven around, because that very bum was going to be sore along with the rest of my body in no time. We snacked next to the road, and I could not control my desire to eat one of the two oranges I’d brought on the trip; the only fresh fruit I’d have for a while. If I finished my juicy fruit I’d only be able to hydrate by drinking water. Noooo! Well, we cleaned up the picnic and took that first step out on to our trail. Every journey begins with a single step, after all. But Beginnings for me are almost as bad as endings. There was so much experiencing to be had in front of us, and we had barely begun. But really, nothing much happened that first day; thankfully I had learned to pack lighter since cabin trips, and the hike wasn’t so bad, but it wasn’t easy, either. That first hike was up Little Raven Mountain, and probably the most enjoyable hike of the trip; It had tons of amazing rock formations, that almost looked man made; I would have loved to climb them if it wasn’t for my pack. Actually, we did climb them; but it would have been fun if I was free of - you know. The tough hike was all worth it at the top, though, when we were gifted with amazing views and wild blueberry bushes full of fruit. It’s a shame my camera was broken. Just in time to miss things worth taking pictures of. Well, we filled up with blueberries and reached Gulf Brook shelter by Afternoon, but it took some bargaining with another hiking group that had gotten there first to stay. At Gulf Brook we filled up water bottles and put in the important five drops of iodine. We had been planning to camp in the tents that first night, but nobody complained.
  • Long Trip Day 2

    We got up early to continue our journey, up Hurricane Mountain. I, we all, started fresh and ready to move, but in no time had our tongues lolling like dog’s. There are strong hikers, then there are mediocre hikers, then there a people not built for it at all. Some kids in the group were like machines pushing strong and fast in the front, protesting when some kids took breaks. Hello? Heck, I can’t function if I don’t take frequent breaks! Either way, whether or not we took breaks was mostly up to the counselors, anyway, and time was apparently against us, so they made us keep going whether we were dying to rest or not. Well, when we got to Hurricane Mountain territory, I could see exactly how it earned its name. The trail was like a riverbed, with stones everywhere as If a windstorm had picked them up and scattered them over the trail just to make hiking hard for us. It was tough terrain. There were trees knocked down, sometimes over the path, and it was no fun going over or under them. All in all it was messed up. In our grumpy, tired state Davis and I agreed that whoever owned the trail was doing a terrible job of taking care of it. Eventually we stopped in a very inconvenient place to have lunch, which was cheese and crackers, and I was refreshed. Moving on again. Slowly the trail rose steadily upward, and we arrived at a place in the trail that seemed to summit, the next part of the trail was clearly going downward. If this was the peak, it was not very impressive. Mazey and Steph told us to take our packs off, which was a relief.
    “Okay, we’re going up to the summit to have a snack.”
    Wha-? Then I noticed the trail that branched off from the main one, going upward, and I knew there was more. This trail lead up large boulders that I scrambled up gleefully; I was pumped with energy, finally getting a chance to climb with no pack. Finally we broke out on to the peak, a bare stretch of rock(s) with a fire tower and an amazing view on all sides. Prancing around, I came across a puddle that had tadpoles in it. Amazing- baby frogs in a tiny puddle on the peak of a mountain. It seemed out of place, definitely, but nature has its surprises. As a snack, we had handfuls of GORP (Good Old Raisins and Peanuts (and choco chips)); which we had to eat off the ground if we spilled; the Leave No Trace rule was strictly enforced. Then we had a sort of “Silent Meeting”, which was funny because it was far from 9:00 and we were not meeting in silence, but finding various isolated places on the peak to sit quietly and safely. Perfect- One of my favorite past times is to sit alone on a mountain. So I chose a ledge, and enjoyed a spectacular view. Mountains rising majestically as far as the eye could see, green and purple and blue, and that gigantic blue American sky, crowned with tall fluffy clouds. If I sat perfectly still, I could be engulfed in perfect silence, save for the occasional bird, fly, breeze, or stone chucked by a bored camper. It was magical; It seemed as if I didn’t exist, and I was just part of the glorious scheme of things, this magnificent masterpiece before my eyes. Soon, though, we had to come together again, and we each shared the thoughts we’d had during the experience.
    Finally we climbed down from the peak and strapped on our packs. I thought going UP was hard, well; going down the other side pretty much killed the last of my knee strength. Our goal was to reach the highway, and be done with Hurricane Mountain once and for all. It was painful, and mind-numbing, and my knees and ankles kept buckling, and I almost missed the sound of cars as I plodded along like a staggering zombie. But when I woke up and heard those cars, boy, I knew we were almost there, and I got new strength. So relieved was I when we reached the highway, but I didn’t dare sit; I might not be able to get up if I did, and I knew we weren’t stopping now. When the whole group was gathered again we set of down the strip of gravel/grass beside the highway. This was much easier hiking. Though the sun was hot, and the ground was hard, there were no hills, and we could walk along nice and easy and straight. We took two water breaks, and enjoyed hearing about our counselors’ first kisses (without even a hint of awkwardness) and the stories lightened my mood. We were on the road a long time, about two miles, before the sign announcing our trail again came into sight. We crossed the street and checked the sign. Apparently we had only 0.4 miles to hike before we’d arrive at our campsite. We decided to rest in the parking lot connected to the trail, drink some water. Davis decided to explore the woods, and we heard him snapping sticks in there, but he came back a short while later and said, casually, like it was no big deal, “I saw an animal skull in there.”
    “Dude, why didn’t you take it?!”
    He shook his head indignantly. “It’s a dead thing’s head! I dunno- was I supposed to?!”
    At which point Felicia whispered, “Either there’s no skull or he’s just stupid.” So three of us charged the forest and in no time found a perfect bleached-out deer skull nestled next to a log. With no hesitation we grabbed it with leaves and hauled it back to the others. After some oohing and aahing, Rory announced, “That’s it. We’re keeping that now. It’s our team mascot.” And so, we ended up carrying that thing for ten miles, all through the trip, to the very end. At that time though, all we hiked was the short bit of easy trail between us and a good night’s sleep and dinner. I knew we were real close. I kept an eye on the person a couple meters ahead of me, which was Toren, and when I went around the bend, I saw him running like mad in the distance, and he didn’t have a pack on. Either he was being chased by a bear or had gotten to the campsite! I forced my legs to move quickly, and found the others who had been in front of me sitting in an open clearing above a rushing river. There was no doubt in my mind we were camping here. It was a long time before the other half of the group arrived, and they explained apologetically that Felicia had gotten a sudden bloody nose and that had delayed them for a bit. Well, everyone was here. We set up tents (the girl’s tent was filthy, filled with all sorts of mysterious dark things), and I went with Steph into the woods to hang our bear bag. I got the rope hooked over the high branch in one shot! Imagine that! Dinner that evening was cheesy rice. Luckily, the infamous Cheesy Rice curse (the terrifying side effect of deadly farting and explosive poop) did not get to any of us that night.
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