One of the things that we try to do at Chewonki is make the best of a bad situation. My wilderness trip was to a cabin on the edge of Lower Wilson Pond, in central Maine. Where we were, the pond was half a mile to a mile at most, so it wasn’t hard to ski across the 20 inch thick ice. Our last day was clear, but the wind was blowing at 35 mph. When we skied across the lake the first time, we had the wind at our backs and it was not too difficult to ski across, but our leader, Dot, decided we should turn around because the weather might worsen out of nowhere and leave us trapped far from warmth. In retrospect, it was the right decision, even though the weather stayed nice and clear all day. We were still disappointed that we couldn’t go on our trip for the day, and it would have turned out to be a bad day if someone hadn’t come up with a great idea.
I can’t remember who it was, but somehow it came up that we could use the sleds that we carried our bags on to slide on the ice. And then someone suggested that we use two sleds: one to slide on and another to act as a sail. I was really excited by this idea, so I and three others from my group ran over to the pond with sleds in tow to try it out. Where we were, there wasn’t much wind, because we were blocked by the trees. We spent ten or so awkward minutes flailing around, trying to get some momentum so we could really take off. I was on the verge of giving up when I slipped and slid right into a current of wind. I quickly picked up my sail, and I shot off like a bullet. It was the most unexpectedly exhilarating thing I have ever experienced. I was going so fast that I couldn’t feel any wind whatsoever on my back. The ice and trees became one big blur, and all I focused on was not crashing on the opposite shore and the clear blue sky, the only two things not moving too fast to see.
It was over almost before it started. It took me no more than a minute to get across the whole lake. I put down my sail, and started the long walk back, against the wind. Now this is the part I don’t normally mention in the story, but it was almost as good as the whole trip over. I had to keep my watering eyes down, just focusing on my feet and the ice below. But that wasn’t boring at all. The ice formations were otherworldly. The lake had frozen so fast that I could see massive air pockets, big enough to fit inside, under the ice. There were several times where the ice had melted and refrozen to the point where I could see my reflection against the one wispy contrail in the sky. Towards the end of my trek, I found a wave. A frozen wave. Snow had gathered around it and as I watched, the wind pulled away more and more of the snow, until the wave, almost a foot tall, was fully exposed. When I got back, I could barely describe my whole ten minute adventure. It was something I experienced by myself, and even this can’t really capture it for anyone else. My solo adventure is one of my most cherished moments here at Chewonki, and I’m glad that we were able to turn a bad day into a memory that I will remember for a long time.
Lucas, the Fieldston School, NY