What an incredible last 10 days it has been! These kids have blown myself and Abigail away with their ability to come together and accomplish tasks using teamwork and positive attitudes. This may be partly due to the fact that since the first night at Presidio, the kids have all camped together outside where we can hear there giggles and scary stories being told every night. On the first day after picking up the kids at the airport, we took the kids to Presidio and taught some basics such as tent and frontcountry cooking setup. We then headed off to Ocean Beach where we played some ice-breakers, name games and all dipped our feet in the Ocean. In fact, it was Christine, Maddie, and Evan’s first time touching the Pacific Ocean!
The next day we drove to our campsite near the Trinity Alps where “Doin’ it Right” by Daft Punk was put on repeat and quickly became our trip song. As we entered the Trinity Alps the first day with the tune in our heads, Katie stepped up as our first leader of the day. She rocked the WV banner as a trendy skirt over her shorts and had her bear spray on the trail, eagerly ready for any encounters. Luckily, the only bear we saw was one while at the top of a ridge during sunset. Derek and Daniel made wolf sounds to scare it off and we watched as the beast scurried down into the valley. On the second day we camped at Horshoe Lake, which ended up being a beautiful alpine lake with awesome views of the valley below. Garret and Christine cooked up a peanut pasta, which ended up being the groups’ favorite backcountry meal so far. I was really impressed by Garret’s ability to set up the backcountry stoves so quickly and with very little direction. After our meal, Christine led the charge in offering our extra food to other backpackers camping near the lake who had rave reviews for the dish as well.
The next two days were tough hikes over a mountain passes, but the kids all rocked it and Evan’s positivity and chatter on the trail really kept spirits high. Daniel led the pack up all the mountain passes we encountered and even came down to help motivate the others to get to the top. At camp on the third night we played an intense game of Capture the Flag. We also let each kid have an hour of personal time where they were able to bring a journal or camera and head out of sight from the group and relax. Also, tonight as we were cooking dinner Jacob’s salty shirt was nibbled on by a deer, which was pretty funny.
Maddie impressed the group as “Leader of the Day” on the toughest physical day we had. At the top of the mountain pass, many kids decided to hike up a meadow to see the coolest view of the whole trip; it was so beautiful it choked a few of us up (by a few I mean me). Derek was really impressive on the hike today staying in the front group of hikers up the pass showing his sharp growth in endurance and physical prowess! Later in the day Maddie opened up to the group about her 3 sisters and the story behind her pack in her life story during evening circle. The pack she is using is the same one her Mom backpacked the European Alps with!
After the last tough day up another mountain pass we ended up camping at another beautiful alpine lake. Christine kept saying how the mysterious path leading to the lake was like it was out of Narnia; we crossed a tree bridge and climbed up some rocks to see one of the most beautiful lakes I’ve ever seen. Abigail and I agreed we would both be just fine with camping here for the rest of the summer because of how beautiful it was. Jacob cooked the entire group his famous quesadillas and even helped with cook crew, although he wasn’t on it, to help prepare dinner. We all slept outside this night and woke up early to get to Redding for de-prep.
This is an extremely special group. They are so cohesive and all keep repeating that they cannot believe they have only known one another for this short amount of time because of how close they already are. The Trinity Alps was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been and each kid has gained muscels in places they did not know could exisit and everyone got mentally tough because of the challenges we faced in the mountains. All smiles leaving The Alps as we are eagerly awaiting our rafting trip on the Klamath!