The Other Night

I woke up under the stars the other night. There were so many and, though I couldn’t nearly see all of them, it reminded me of how pretty, plain beautiful our universe is.

I woke up on a slick rock in a canyon in Utah. I woke up a couple times that night, the rock was pretty slanted and not that comfortable, but I didn’t mind. Everything around me was too beautiful to mind being awake.

I woke up and my nose was cold. Aside from that, I was cozy in my sleeping bag, but the breezy fresh air made my face all cold. But, once again, I didn’t mind.

Photo Credit: farm3.staticflickr.com

I always forget how much I love camping. But then, when I go, I fall in love with it entirely. I love hiking for hours and watching the landscape change around you. I love having nothing to worry about other than making a good fire and finding water to filter. I love to not set foot into a building for days and I love waking up at night underneath the stars, being reminded of how pretty our universe is.

Of course camping can be stressful sometimes, like when the blisters on your feet are burning and you know you still have miles left to go or when you’re wearing all the layers you can possibly wear, but you’re still freezing in your sleeping bag. But, again, I don’t really mind those things all too much. The freeze-dried food, the soaked shoes, the farmer’s tan, it was all worth it once again. Because, the other night, I got to wake up underneath the stars in Utah and it was so beautiful.

Backpacking Excursion

I spent my eighth grade year at the Aspen Middle School, which is not surprisingly in Aspen Colorado. In all honesty, Aspen is not my favorite place. I love warm weather and going to the beach all year long, instead of wearing three different jackets to school in the morning and being called a marshmallow.

But going into eighth grade was especially daunting. We all knew that the second week of school we would be leaving on a week long backpacking trip, where we would hike some thirty miles in three or four days and arrive at a small town called Marble.

The mountains in Aspen

Let me just tell you that we had not been thrown into something we weren’t prepared for. In seventh grade the ODE trip is a week spent on the Colorado River rafting. In sixth grade the students go on a hut trip, and in fifth they spend a week camping in Moab, Utah.Read More »

Honors Ski Trip

Last week, I had one of the best weeks I’ve had so far this year. I took a trip with 18 of my classmates and close friends along with 4 faculty members to Yosemite for the Honors Ski Trip.

Now, I’ve been to Yosemite before when I was younger and I do remember parts of it. But it was so different than I had remembered and so amazing. It was a completely different experience and a really great one at that.

Day #1:
After arriving the night before when there was hardly any snow, we woke up unsure if there would be good skiing conditions. Nevertheless, we went up to Badger pass, rented our skis, and set off on our first cross country skiing journey. The skiing itself was extremely difficult for me, and I fell over at least every 3 minutes. It was so frustrating and I wasn’t really having the best time. about 20 or 30 minutes in, it started snowing lightly. It got colder, then began to snow harder and harder until I could hardly feel my hands or see very far ahead of me. We stopped for lunch at a campground, which was about 3 miles from where we started, and took a break in the cold snow storm for about 20 minutes. Then, we headed back the way we came to make a 6 mile trip. It wasn’t that far, really, but it seemed like it to be because I was terrible at the skiing, but being surrounded by beautiful scenery definitely enhanced the experience.

Day #2:
It wasn’t as hard for me the 2nd day because I had gotten used to the hang of the skiing, but I was still really slow. We went the same way as we did the 1st day, but part way through, we cut off the main path and went a few miles out on a side trail. It was so beautiful, with many less people, and it was sunny and warm (well, compared to the first day). At our stopping spot, we went up a really steep hill onto a flat area where some of us (including myself) stopped and ate lunch as a small group continued on to another destination. We stayed at this spot for an hour or a little bit more, making snow forts, having a snowball fight, building a snowman, and sleeping in the snow with the warm sun beating down on us. It was a very peaceful and beautiful experience. When we got back and were loading up the vans, a group of us saw a coyote that was so close to us we could almost touch it. Its eyes were extremely greenish-yellow and vibrant, and he was so much more calm than I would expect.

Day #3:
This was by far my favorite day. We split into two groups, one that went on another ski trip and one that went on a hike by half dome and the huge waterfall. We walked a while through the trees until we spotted a beautiful bobcat that was only about 20 feet away from us. It wasn’t scared or nervous, and just went about doing whatever it wanted to. I had never seen one before and it was probably the best part of the day – it’s not very often people see bobcats roaming around, even in Yosemite. We took a very nice hike about 4 more miles out to a location called Mirror lake. It wasn’t a very full lake when we were there, it was a bit more dried up than I imagined, but it was still beautiful. We stopped and ate lunch here and did some rock-climbing, if you could call it that… it was more of a sad attempt.
At the end of the day, we went back to where the hike started and took an interesting journey into what are called the “spider caves”. It’s pitch black, cold, rocky, and the spaces to fit through are extremely small. We weren’t allowed to use lamps, so we were all helping the person behind us through. I only made it through the first half of the cave; I chickened out and found a way to get out. The rest of the group, however, crawled through more small spaces for about 20 minutes until they made it out at the other end.

Overall, I would say it was an extremely valuable experience. I saw so many things that I hadn’t ever seen before, and we had SO much fun in our cabins at night playing charades, twister, and cooking dinner together.

To be honest, I was extremely sad for this trip to end and I wish I could do it at least one more time. All I can say is, I’m thankful for the time I spent with those people and that I had the opportunity to experience these new things. It was truly great.

White Rocks and Moonlight Walks

I had never been to the infamous White Rocks in the Los Padres National Forest before a few days ago on Tuesday night.

Our head lamps and flashlights were turned off as we ascended up the mountain on our short hike, which took about 20 or 30 minutes. It was dark, but the full moon hovered overhead, lighting our paths. We were not talking; it was silent except for the sounds of bugs and our footsteps on the ground.

After crossing a few areas of water and unfortunately tripping over some big rocks, we had made it to a big white plateau surrounded by 3 towering white rock masses. It was so beautiful to see the white surface illuminated by the full moon.

And so we sat – Coop, Floyd, 15 other student leaders, and myself. We talked about issues at school, had a debate, and took a beautiful group photograph. (Thank you Max, it turned out so amazing!)

AND THEN WE PLAYED HIDE AND SEEK.
It was extremely epic and fun. There were so many good hiding spots too.

I was skeptical at first about this moonlight hike that Coop had planned for us, but I ended up having such a great time. I really did. I did not want the night to end! We have such a fun and interesting group of student leaders this year and I am so proud do be one of them.