2013 Elon Gap Semester – 1st 5 days

DCIM100GOPROStars glimmer overhead

Whispers escape through silence

A journey of the soul

I am most excited for the potential that sleeps within this group. Within me, my peers, our instructors and our most grand companion: Mother Earth. The transition from surrounding the glow of a cell phone to watch Netflix, to gathering around the dim light of an illuminated Nalgene bottle fills me with excitement. We have only just begun and already I see my peers pushing against their fears, coming out of their shells and I feel myself beginning to do the same. I was scared that as a group we might not connect well. It has taken mere hours in the field to shatter that apprehension. I am confident we will cultivate trust, gratitude, kindness, humor and most of all a deep connection that will remain within all of us as we embark on this journey that is a life. The specifics about what we “did” today aren’t important for me to record right now. The rich vein of potential that courses deep and abundantly through this group is. I couldn’t be more excited to rise up … and begin!

Today has been extremely interesting. It began with a scramble to get everything out of our rooms at the NOLS Noble Hotel. After the mad dash to breakfast, we gathered all of our luggage and headed to NOLS, where our packed packs were awaiting our arrival. We then learned how to “explode” our packs and re-pack them like backpacking pros. Once all of our packs were packed and ready to go, the Instructor Team (I-Team) took us to the map room to show us our planned hiking route. Our last stop before departing on our 2-plus hour bus ride to our base camp was in the ration room. Let me tell you that this was definitely a highlight of the day knowing that this was my last opportunity to load up on food. I went overboard on chocolate, getting two over-sized bags of peanut M&Ms and a jar of Nutella.  Leaving them to be delivered to me at the first ration period. I headed to our bus and we departed to base camp. After a great nap and one convenient pit-stop, we reached our base camp, and our journey officially began. 

Getting on the bus the first day was beyond exciting. We were about to start our adventure when we finally got to the destination where we were to be dropped off. We unloaded and the bus pulled away. This was all real. That feeling stuck with me the rest of the day as we got to camp and set up our sleeping arrangements and the kitchen. The sun went down creating a very majestic sunset, which represented the start of something great.

Today we arrived at our first campsite. The view was breathtaking because there were birds everywhere and the clouds were puffy and white. We learned how to set up our first campsite and how to cook delicious food. Our first meal was macaroni and cheese with cereal crust. It was so good.DCIM100GOPRO

Today we got into the woods and started this incredible adventure. We learned how to set up camp. Within the next couple of hours of practice we had our tents set up and we made our way to the kitchen (the spot were we set up our food bags and stoves). We had dinner and then went to set up the bear fence and after all was done we had our evening meeting and went to sleep.

We started off on our NOLS and GAP adventure officially today. We started our day with breakfast at the NOLS hotel. Shortly after we went off to the NOLS building where we all learned how to pack our bags as well as making sure we have everything we will need for the next 25 days. We began our adventure with a short hike to our campsite. At the campsite we learned all of the basic skills we will need for the next few weeks. These skills include setting up our tent and establishing our kitchen. We continued on to make ourselves our first meal of baked crunchy mac n cheese. It was an amazing meal and the cooking helped bring each tent group together. That night me and one of my tent mates decided to sleep outside under the stars which was amazing.

Today was our first day of hiking. What I didn’t know was what today had in store for me. While we were hiking I hit my hardest challenge so far, the slanted boulder field. It had been a long day so far and I was getting tired and we saw the boulder field. At first I didn’t think it was going to be too bad. I had climbed a couple rocks before this trip but nothing quite like this and definitely not with a 45 pound backpack on. Halfway through I felt like giving up. I sat here and said to myself, there is no going back and you have to keep going. I looked up and it was time to continue. I found it in myself to push through and keep going. In the middle of a couple of stumbles I was surprised to hear “hey are you okay?” and my answer, to my surprise was, “yeah, I’m good!” After a couple of more boulders I was rejoiced to see I had made it to the top. At that moment I looked back and thought “yeah, you just did that.” That was the most challenging point in the trip so far.

The view right now is absolutely breathtaking. Cumulus clouds cover the sky and create the perfect backdrop. We have just set up camp at Horseshoe Lake and are now getting a chance to have some solo time. The breeze is steady and immaculate. The trees are elegantly swaying in the wind with their full bodies and bright green leaves appreciating every gust. The beautifully flowing weather shimmers as it reflects the rays of the almighty sun. Then there is me. Seated beside the divine lake. The wind blows me home. I think of the summer that has just past and of the people there I have just left. I think of childhood memories and more recent personal struggles. I miss home but I am supposed to.  I miss my friend but I’m supposed to. Equally as quickly as the wind blew my thoughts back home, it takes me to the present time. The view is perfect and so are these people. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. 

Today we went hiking and I was in charge of finding the best route. We started the hike on this very warm beautiful day. We hiked for a couple hours then we got to camp and we had some spare time. I learned how to fly fish finally (which was on my bucket list). It was nice to get out and do what I really love. I caught a little brook trout and it was so nice.

Yesterday was the most challenging yet rewarding hike so far and I know we all agree with that statement. We actually summited.  From the top, we could see the closest clouds , other peaks, snow fields and endless rocks. When we reached that point, we all just stopped to take it all in. The groups continued down to the mountain to the lake where we planned to set camp. The terrain was really hard with loose rocks and steep hills. When we turned around, it was such a rewarding feeling and somewhat surprising seeing what we accomplished.

I woke up this morning at 5:59 am full of unexplainable gusto and energy to storm the kitchen and start breakfast for my tent mates. Before we departed on our 4 mile hike from Horseshoe Lake to Dyke Lake, a long, exhausting 6 hour hike through boulder fields, meadows, drainages, and ridges left all of us clambering for the comfort of our sleeping bags. Though today was our longest, most challenging hike so far, all of us feeling an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. We climbed our first summit from which we saw the Absaroka Mountains to the east and the Grand Tetons to the west. We’re officially over the “wilderness” boundary and I cannot wait to see what else these majestic mountains have in store for us.

 Today we woke up to a breakfast of hashbrowns. Yummy! Then we cleaned the kitchen and packed for morning meeting at nine a.m. My group of five checked the map, made a plan, and set off first. Luckily it was mostly downhill and on a clearly marked path. It was such a pleasant  hike. We got into camp second and got ourselves a snack. Then we all prepared for our re-ration. I am so excited for new food!

We had a great hike where we went 2 miles and then set up camp on the Horseshoe Lake. On our hike to the lake we found a few wild berries including blueberries and currants. They were amazingly tasty despite being tiny. Tomorrow we will hike a little further and meet up at our re-ration point where horse packers will bring us the food we need for the next 12 days. On this trip the one feeling I feel has helped me and will continue to help me is that every difficulty and challenge we face only makes us stronger. This is evident to me through the commitment and group effort I have seen throughout this adventure. I can’t wait to enjoy all of the crazy experiences we will have and I really want to push myself to talk to and socialize with more of our group, they are all great and interesting people.


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