By: Mary DiMartino
Let me tell you, my first 48 hours in the wilderness were more than unpleasant. They were exhausting, lonely, cold, and extremely difficult. I’d even say they were some of the worst 48 hours of my life. My high spirits were crushed when I walked off the bus in the freezing, rainy weather in nothing but shorts and a t-shirt. After frantically searching for my other layers, which of course were at the very bottom of my pack, I put them on and my body eventually began to warm up.
Even though there were 17 other people right beside me, I couldn’t help but feel a strong sense of loneliness. Sure we had spent a few days together and had kept up a group message the past couple months, but in reality they were practically strangers to me, and in my mind I was completely alone.
The next day started out surprisingly good. Although the weight of a 40 pound pack brought immense pain to my shoulders and back, that was fully expected and I still managed to keep up with the group easy enough. However, during the middle of the hike, I started to get more and more tired. I was worn out, both physically and mentally, and I began to deeply doubt myself.
As we were within the last hour or two of our hike, we came upon Dave’s group sitting on some rocks. I was overjoyed when he told us he wanted to stop and set up camp there. When those words came out of mouth, the words “Thank God” came out of mine. I couldn’t have been happier or relieved in that moment.
My group headed to the kitchen area to unpack out food from our packs. After I was done I was standing there merely observing what everyone was doing when I got the sudden urge to throw up. I immediately thought, “This can’t be happening.” Well guess what? It happened. Not once in the past 5 years have I thrown up, but my body thought it’d be cool to do so while I was out in the middle of nowhere. After throwing up I took a seat and I didn’t move for a good 15 minutes, in fear that it would happen again. When I thought I was stable enough to get up and walk around I headed to the tents to warm up in my sleeping bag and get some rest. Instead of waking up to go to dinner, that night I continued to sleep until morning. I was too tired to do anything else.
Now, here I am, almost 2 weeks later. And I can honestly say I love it. On Wednesday night, August 24th, I wrote, “I just re-read all the letters I’ve read so far. I got a little teary-eyed, especially with Pat’s and Dre’s. I miss them but honestly I’m so happy here in this beautiful place with the truly amazing people. I’m so thankful for this amazing opportunity.” No doubt were the first couple days extremely tough. I wanted to give up, go home, and forget it ever happened. But I learned that things will always get better if you are optimistic and that I am strong enough to do this. And for those times when I don’t feel like I am, I know I have 14 best friends and 3 awesome instructors who will always support me. In a way, I’m thankful for those terrible first 48 hours. Because those worst 48 hours of my life led to some of the absolute best.