When I received the news that I would be backpacking in the Mahoosuc range for five days with seven other students and three leaders, I was ecstatic. Throughout the week before the trip, the students and I said nothing but positive remarks regarding our upcoming adventure, which gave me a reassuring feeling about this group. Then on the morning of our trip, that confidence was restored when the whole bus was being energetic even at six in the morning. We headed out to the head of the Wright Trail in Bethel, Maine, while many of us took a nap to gear up for the long (but fun) days ahead. When we got to the trail, Holly, our Outdoor Classroom leader, dished out all the group gear and food, which to me looked quite heavy.
To my dismay, my pack was not that heavy even though I had the rain fly of my tent, the tarp, two bags of food, and the rest of my personal gear. Shortly after, we began hiking. Our first hike was around 2.5 miles mostly on leveled ground, in my opinion this was our easiest hike and it progressively got harder after each day. Our daily routine would be to wake up around 6:30, attempt to leave camp as soon as possible and start hiking, then we would arrive at camp and split up into our various groups. Camp crew essentially set up camp; hung the tarp, retrieved water for cooking, and hung the bear bags. Cook crew made our delicious meals (with a lot of help from our amazing chef Holly), while clean crew washed the dishes and wrote in journals. And water crew got water from the stream and filtered it for drinking. After dinner and nightly meeting, we would jump inside our tents and wait for Lily to sing our lullaby.
Our second day was a 4-mile hike on Goose Eye Mountain that was relatively all up hill as we made the transition from the Wright Trial to the Appalachian Trail, which I found very rewarding. On our third day, our leaders informed us that this would be our hardest hike because we would be traveling through the Mahoosuc notch. The notch consisted of boulders, that they compared to ‘half the size of a Chewonki cabin’, which were scattered in a valley that made it difficult to continue on the trail normally. Then on our fourth day, we prepared for our longest hike, an 8-mile trek that included two summits. We ended the trip with a 5-mile hike, which gave us plenty of time to reflect on the amazing trip and enjoy each other’s company before entering the Chewonki community again.
What I really enjoyed about this trip was our group dynamic and the beautiful sights of the Mahoosuc range. Our leaders, Lily (the math teacher), Micha (the sustainability fellow and environmental issues teacher), and Holly did a great job leading this rambunctious crew, and never failed to jump in on our random, but funny jokes. On our second day of hiking, we had successfully given everyone a ‘trail name’, which we attempted to use for the rest of the trip and even back on Chewonki campus. Throughout the whole trip, everyone kept an optimistic attitude, which was surprising because of the cold weather and our challenging hikes. We would end our days at night with a reading from Sherlock Holmes by John Fiegelson in a spot-on British accent, while we curled up next to each other with an occasional cup of tea or hot chocolate. My favorite memory from the trip was when we summited the Sunday River Snow Cap, because the view at the top was stunning. There were lush forests and rolling hills all around us, and all our tired bodies were quickly energized by this spectacular view. The students gathered in this circle of rocks that we called ‘the meditation circle’, and we sat down and enjoyed the site together. This short, but memorable trip gave everyone the opportunity to become closer and work cohesively as a group, which allowed us to have the most amazing trip. I will never forget the beautiful sights, amazing leaders and students, and all our quirky jokes on this remarkable journey.
– Catherine Gouchoe, Concord-Carlisle High School, Concord, Massachusetts