-Becca, Ewing NJ
One the first day, we boarded our bus at around 8:30am for our four-hour long ride to the beginning of our path. Immediately, our group clicked. We could tell right off the bat that our group dynamic would be amazing. Once we got to the beginning of our trail, we packed our bags and hiked 1.9 miles to our first campsite. Our packs were probably about 40 pounds each. Every person carried, in addition to their personal stuff, some group gear and a food bag. At our first campsite, we learned how to set up our tents, and we split up into groups to do either cook crew, camp crew or water crew. I was on cook crew that night and we made stir-fry. The food on our trip was delicious, with lots of fresh ingredients from our trip leader/math teacher, Bill’s farm.
The following days, we hiked more, ate great food and had a lot of fun. Our group bonded as a whole really well. I remember thinking, as I fell asleep on the first night, that I was just so happy to be there. Every moment was memorable and I will always cherish my time on the AT.
On our last morning, we got up at 4:30am, and hiked in the dark to the summit of a mountain. There, we could watch the sunrise from an abandoned fire tower. The sky was pink and light blue. Even though it was bitter cold, I have never been happier. I knew, then and there, that the trip had been life-changing. Away from the busy world, the 10 of us could be silent and appreciate the sky. I will never forget that. I will always feel grateful to be at Chewonki and to get to have experiences like a five-day backpacking excursion in the middle of the school year.
For our wilderness trip, a group of eight students and two faculty members backpacked on the Appalachian Trail. For some, this trip was their first experience backpacking. We went out on Monday September 22nd and came back five days later. I have never been so dirty and so happy at the same time.
-Bex, New York NY and Mallory, Princeton NJ
About two weeks ago, several of my classmates and I, as well as one teacher and two Outdoor classroom leaders, left from Chewonki neck to go on the Sea Kayaking wilderness trip. We began on Monday by traveling 8 miles to Spectacle islands in Sheepscot bay. It was a new experience for many of us, and some (including me) found it more difficult than others. The crossing of the bay produced a spectacular view, and the islands, connected during low tide by a land bridge, were beautiful. The second day proved to be harder, as we had stronger winds pushing us past ocean point and up to Fort Island in the Damariscotta. The waves were huge, and many of us worried about tipping, but we all made it to shore, safe, although unfortunately, wet. On Tuesday night we got the sad news that we wouldn’t be able to make the infamous 16-mile stretch around Pemaquid Point the following day because of bad weather. We spent Wednesday playing games, trying to make a fire with a bow drill, and making a shorter day trip through South Bristol and Witch Island, where we had lunch. On Thursday, the weather was thankfully much better, and we were able to make the journey to Harbor Island on the east side of Pemaquid. It was long and tiring, but fun, and filled with funny games and hectic emergency bathroom breaks.
We were satisfied but exhausted when we finally got to the island, barely making it before dusk. Friday was the home stretch, and we were sad although probably a little relieved when we made it to the landing point. All in all, it was a demanding and amazing trip, and I feel closer to all the people who took it with me. We spent a lot of lovely time eating meals, taking care of the camp, and staying in tents together. We’ve gained memories that we will never forget.
-Claire, New York NY
If you’ve never gone on a five day wilderness trip with eleven other people that you maybe didn’t know very well beforehand, you should really make it a priority. I went canoeing on the St. Croix River for five days as my wilderness trip, and it was an absolutely incredible experience.
Imagine waking up one morning to this:
Imagine canoeing over the still water and looking up and seeing the black and white of a bald eagle flying directly over your boat. Imagine getting in a canoe with someone you have barely spoken to before and getting out of that boat three hours later with a real sense of kinship towards that person. Imagine traveling down a river for miles without seeing any sign of humans. Imagine singing around a campfire that you made start to finish, from chopping down a dead snag for firewood to lighting the match. Imagine floating down a river in complete silence without any feeling of awkwardness.
My fellow students and I experienced all of these things on our wilderness trip. We were usually in bed by 8:30, which may seem early, but I don’t think any of us ever had any trouble falling asleep. One of the many highlights of the trip for me was when we decided to go for a swim in the river. I’ll be honest it was more of a run in screaming, go under, and run out screaming even louder kind of thing, but it’s moments like those that I would stop and think about how fortunate I was to be there. Some of the best and most memorable moments were those of nerves and anticipation of the upcoming rapids and the realization that we could handle them.
Someone said something on the trip that has stuck with me about the adventure not truly starting until something goes wrong or until you feel some discomfort. I think back to those moments when Jonathan and Garth’s boat flipped, or when Neha and Elise got stuck on not one, but several rocks, or when it poured for an entire day and we were all soaking wet, and I realize that there is a lot of truth in that statement. Sure I would have loved to wash my hair with some Dr. Bronner’s or have more than one pair of Smartwool socks, but those moments of discomfort, however fleeting, enriched the whole experience so much more for all of us. Every night around the fire Rowan would pull out her ukelele and we would pass it around, everyone playing the songs that they knew and everyone humming along regardless of whether or not they knew the words. The last night we had an intense round of charades and I don’t think any of us will ever forget Sebastian trying to act out Encounters With the Archdruid which we all read as a semester, or Garth trying to act out the thesaurus. After charades we sat in a circle and played a game called “Warm Fuzzies.” Leah would say something like, “this person made you smile this week,” or “you learned something from this person this week,” and everyone would close their eyes and two people would walk around the circle and give everyone they thought behaved that way a shoulder massage. I think we all were able to see how much we did for each other even if it was unintentional.
How about a Semester 49 canoe trip reunion next year somewhere in northern Canada?
-Jane, Lewisburg PA
White Water Kayaking
By night the white water kayakers were musicians – singing songs and playing fiddle around a roaring campfire, and by day were gnarly shredders – tearing up the West Branch of the Penobscot River. Rain or shine the WW kayakers were enthusiastic learners, everyone was eager to get out on the river each day to put into practice the skills they had learned the day before. The trip leaders returned to Chewonki with nothing but praise and admiration for the work ethic of this group. “We have the makings of more than a few serious paddlers on this trip,” they said enthusiastically, ” I can’t wait to see where they go from here with kayaking, I think we hooked them!”