Wishy Washy Mt Washington Weather.

There was a time not too long ago when I laughed in derision at peakbaggers. We all did, my friends and I: we were young, fit, motivated, and part of the finest college outing club in the world, of course.

What is a peakbagger, you might ask? Well, it is a hiker whose main goal is to summit a bunch of mountains – for example the 46 highest peaks in the Adirondacks, or all the 4,000-footers in New Hampshire, or all the 13,000-footers in Colorado – and are more driven by the desire to check things off the list than the actual challenge and experience.

While I don’t consider myself a peakbagger, I am, in my “old age”, beginning to understand why somebody might be. When you have a job and a grown-up life, it’s a little harder to get out the door sometimes to go on a run or a hike. There’s simply too many other things to do. Having goals helps with this, and once you’re out there, you’re always glad you left the house.

For example, when I was in Florida, I didn’t really enjoy running that much. There were some quiet neighborhoods but you had to cross large, busy roads, and the community wasn’t particularly pedestrian-friendly. I was often honked at, and not in a positive way. So to get myself to go running, I set a goal. When I returned to New England, I wanted to do a Presi Traverse. It was something I’d been thinking about for a couple of years, and now that I would be leaving for the west coast for an indefinite amount of time, it was now or never on the traverse.

There are a couple of ways to do a Presi Traverse and a few peaks which can be included or omitted, but I picked out a route, rented a Dartmouth Outing Club cabin in Randolph, NH, and then invited my friends to join me. We’d be hiking about 20 miles with approximately 20,000 feet of cumulative climbing, or so I’m told. Susan, Hannah and I mentally committed to waking up obscenely early on Thursday morning and hiking across the ridge all day. We made our pasta for dinner and then went to bed early in preparation for something that would surely make all three of us very, very sore all weekend.

And on Thursday we did wake up early, managed to get out the door, and parked at Crawford Notch. We headed up the Webster-Jackson Trail, still groggy but excited for what we thought was going to be an awesome day in the mountains. A traverse was something that we had all wanted to do – I wasn’t the only one who had spent a few years unsuccessfully trying to fit it into my training schedule. But I was perhaps the most excited, because in Florida, there hadn’t been any mountains. This was my glorious return, if only my body could deal with all that climbing.

Anyway, we got to the top of Mount Jackson, the first peak on our route, and suddenly the atmosphere changed from pleasant to difficult. It was extremely windy, windy enough to blow us slightly off course as we navigated over the summit. But it was still sunny, at least, and we had some good views…. in one direction. We looked toward Mount Washington and couldn’t see the summit. Huh.

We knew that if it was this windy on Jackson, Washington would be impossible. So much of the mountain is exposed, it’s not like you can just pop out of the trees and make a quick trip to the top. At this point, we more or less knew that our traverse was doomed. We still thought, however, that we might be able to take a lower route and stay in the trees- a sort of shoulder traverse, if you will.

When we got to the Mizpah Springs Hut, we consulted our map and didn’t see any way to stay below treeline on Washington without going way, way lower – something that didn’t seem worth it. And we saw that the forecasted winds were 55 to 75 miles per hour. Reluctantly, we agreed that we shouldn’t have any extended routes above treeline. At this point, it also started raining.

Not wanting to give up entirely, we pushed on over Mount Pierce and on up Mount Eisenhower. On Ike, things really got tough. The wind was gusting and fierce, and through the fog and clouds we couldn’t really see anything. In fact, the only way we could really tell that we were at the summit was the absolutely gigantic cairn we saw. This must be it, we decided, and snapped a quick photo.

Despite being cold and wet – our fingers turned red and white and swelled up in protest against the freezing conditions – we were pretty happy to have made it over three peaks. Still though, we were relieved when we started down the Edmands Path and into the trees. We kind of stopped to regroup. We could actually hear each other talk here! Up on Eisenhower, we had each been in our own little world, focusing on putting one foot in front of the other. I had been struggling to breathe in the cold wind, my asthma kicking in as it sometimes does when I climb through a severe temperature change. We hadn’t been a group, but rather three isolated hikers.

On the way down, we were back to chattering. By the time we got to the bottom, it was practically sunny, although when we looked up we still couldn’t see the ridge, was by now even more obscured by clouds and fog. It was 11 a.m. and we unexpectedly had half a day to waste. At least we had good company.

If I was a true peakbagger, I would have been dismayed not to check a half-dozen new mountains off my list. But that wasn’t why I was disappointed about abandoning our traverse. Mostly, I had wanted to spend those eight or nine or more hours in the mountains, looking out over my home state and drinking in the fresh, clean air. I had wanted to spend that time doing something difficult, making my body really earn its keep. I had wanted to spend it with my two friends, just as we had so many times before at Dartmouth and at Craftsbury.

But, the Presidentials will always be there, and we can always try again. We did have a great time and I still got to see my friends. I can’t complain too much.

I Try Tuckerman’s.

Nat and Han hiking up to our lunch spot. Photo: Courtney Robinson.

Nat and Han hiking up to our lunch spot. Photo: Courtney Robinson.

Last week I wrote that I wasn’t a bike racer, but I enjoyed a bike race. Well, I’m not an alpine skier either, but I still went to Tuckerman’s Ravine this weekend.

It started something like this: having dinner with friends on Thursday night, they started talking about going to Tucks on Saturday. I wanted to go. Oh man, I wanted to go. But… “I really should work on my thesis, guys. I just don’t think I can go.”

My friends pretty much think that I’m crazy and all this work I’ve been doing is somewhat unnecessary. So they convinced me (it didn’t take much): I hadn’t been to Tuckerman’s in four years at Dartmouth, and this would be my last chance. I could always make up for it by working harder the next day, right?

And so on Saturday morning we shoved our skis in the car and hit the road. The cast of characters included this outgoing ski team captains Hannah Dreissigacker and Courtney Robinson, incoming captain Ida Sargent, senior teammate Sarah Van Dyke and her friend Nate Mazonson, and my old Ford Sayre teammate Natalie Ruppertsberger, who was home from Bates on break.

When we arrived, we ran into more friends: Pete Van Deventer, Lizzy Asher, Katie Ammons, and Zoe Acher. They had driven up the night before to get an early start, but their plan had obviously failed since we all met up around 10.

Natalie, Hannah and I don’t own our own alpine gear, so we had brought nordic skis. As we stood waiting for people to get ready at Pinkham Notch Visitor’s Center, the AMC staffer came over and asked us if we did this often.

“No,” I replied, “Not really.”

“Well, just be careful. Those skis aren’t really appropriate. You’re not planning on skiing the bowl, are you?”

No, we weren’t. But it seemed to us that anyone who bothered to bring nordic skis probably had, actually, a pretty good idea of what they were doing; it would never occur to an out-of-state novice to bring nordic gear. This was evidenced by how many times we were asked if we were crazy.

As we started up, Pete said, “Less talking, more walking!” which turned out to be his mistake. Natalie and I power-hiked up, passing dozens of people on the highway of a trail. We were aided by the fact that our skis weighed so much less than everyone else’s heavy alpine skis and boots or snowboards. Nonetheless, it was a workout; I guess maybe we are a little competitive with each other! I was drenched in sweat by the time we reached the Hermit Lakes shelters, where we paused for a snack before continuing up into the bowl.

There were so many people. It was overwhelming. Where could we put our packs and eat lunch? Before we even figured this out, someone shouted “Avalanche!” and we watched as a huge section just below the cliffs come tumbling down as people sprinted out of the way. It ran out before it reached us, but we still retreated towards the scrubby trees.

We decided to climb up to some rocks on the right side of the ravine, high above the “Lunch Rocks”. It was a steep hike, and I wondered a few times, “how am I going to get down from here?” But I put these thoughts on hold.

We sat in the sun eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, slapping on sunscreen and watching people tackle the headwall. It was probably sixty degrees and not a cloud in the sky; I could have sat on those rocks forever, although I would have ended up with quite a suburn.

It was amazing the risks people were taking. We saw a guy break his femur. While he was being helped, not a minute after his crash, a snowboarder attempted the same line and carwheeled all the way down; I don’t understand how his neck wasn’t broken. “Look at those knuckleheads,” Natalie said. It made me nervous, even though of course I wouldn’t be trying anything nearly as dangerous. I just thought of how unpleasant it would be to be carried out from Tuckerman’s on a stretcher – it’s a long, jolting way down.

After lunch, half the group bootpacked up to the summit so they could ski in the Great Gulf, where it was less crowded. The three of us with nordic skis stayed in the bowl, hiking and sliding our way down through the rocks and scrub to the bottom. Sarah and Ida hiked over the rocks to the Right Gully, and skied down from there.

Hannah, Natalie and I decided to tackle the left side of the bowl. We hiked up to a set of rocks below the Chute, and looked down. It was steep, but not too steep (not compared to the terrain I foolishly attempted to ski in Colorado this summer…); the difficulty was more that the snow was heavy, thick slush, and there wasn’t much chance we could push it around with our skinny, light skis.

Hannah tackled the problem by doing telemark turns. They weren’t the as graceful as turns on real telemark skis, and she fell every once in a while, but they worked. She was having fun.

As for me, well, I can’t do tele turns. As far as I could see, this left me only one option: jump turns. The first run, I did okay turning to one direction (as long as I didn’t get up too much speed), but the other way I crashed every time. Once we got down to the shallow bottom of the bowl, we could step around the turns and go faster. It was fun.

We immediately hiked back up to those rocks. People started asking us, so what trick are you going to do this time? We would smile and laugh and say we didn’t have too many tricks up our sleeves. That time, I think I made it down the whole way down jump-turning without any falls. I was feeling pretty good about myself.

The third time, of course, I was overconfident and fell on almost every turn. But so it goes. We were enjoying ourselves, enjoying the sun, enjoying the atmosphere; there was nothing that could make the day better, it seemed.

And we were sad when, after a few more runs, the time came to leave the bowl and head back down the mountain. Couldn’t we just stay there forever? Did we really have to go back to school? And did Natalie have to go back to Bates? Why couldn’t she just hang out with me all the time? We were exhausted from the sun, and the ride back was quiet. I was just glad I’d had the chance to experience Tuckerman’s once before I graduated.

Moosilauke 2 ways.

Ruff Patterson.

My pain face. Photo: Ruff Patterson.

This weekend I experienced Mount Moosilauke in two parts. Neither was relaxing, exactly, but Saturday was a comfortable kind of work, closing up the Ravine Lodge for the winter.

David Asmussen, an alumni, bucked logs with a chainsaw while I operated the hydraulic splitter. We split and stacked several cords of wood, and he pointed out that I had lifted quite a few tons, so it was all right that I didn’t get into the gym over the weekend.

I enjoyed the harmony of four chainsaws, the splitter, a maul, and the work truck taking away the fruits of our labor. Especially since the weather was decent.

As Hannah Dreissigacker said, manual labor makes you think, but it is not intellectual like schoolwork. You enter a different state of mind as you try to find the most efficient way to complete your task, and it’s a great time to contemplate life.

Our work was repaid with a feast that night: one and two-thirds roast turkeys, stuffing, cranberry, gravy, sweet potatoes, challah, asparagus, potato skins with melted cheese salad, duck with maple-glazed apples, and five kinds of pie (I only tried three).

I fell asleep that night to the sound of rain on the Lodge roof, and worried that at the top of the mountain, the precipitation would be in the form of snow. After only a few minutes, though, the hard work of the day sent me off to sleep, snuggled deep inside my sleeping bag.

The next morning, I ate more pie for breakfast and tried to prepare myself for the days’ task, our annual time trial with Middlebury and whoever else feels like showing up.

I was nervous because three weeks ago, I had come down with a cold.

Being a sick athlete, especially an asthmatic, pneumonia-prone one, is distasteful. I build my life around, among other things, getting out the door to run or rollerski at least once every day.

So I took a few days completely off, and went two and a half weeks without any intensity. Friday, I did my first set of intervals after concluding that I was healthy enough to try. It wasn’t so bad.

Unfortunately, “not so bad” doesn’t cut it when you’re racing up a mountain.

I was given number 32, and started after all the alpine skiers, several mothers, and about half the nordic field.

I started out along the Baker River, running fast on the flat. By the time I got to the first uphill section, which seemed like it was actually a stream filled with rocks, I could see Sophie McClelland from Middlebury in front of me. I felt good.

As I passed a few hikers and spectators, I developed what I would term a “death rattle.” My breathing was even, but not particularly effective as the mucus bounced around my throat and lungs. I crossed the first bridge and turning onto the Gorge Brook Trail. More and more frequently, I stopped to walk in order to negotiate the rocks in the trail without tripping.

After crossing the second bridge and running past Last Sure Water, I began getting caught by the faster runners who started in back of me.

My teammates Hannah Dreissigacker and Rosie Brennan passed me at about the same time as Cassidy Edwards from Middlebury. Although they definitely gave me some motivation to run faster than I could have on my own, when I pushed to keep up with them and run with a pack, I ended up coughing and slowing down.

Climbing up and up through the trees, I thought that each corner would bring me to the landmark I could picture so clearly in my mind: granite steps curving to the left through scrubby conifers, when all of a sudden the view opens up to the sky above treeline.

I glanced at my watched when I finally got to the steps I was looking for: 46:50. My goal time was 50 minutes, but there was no way I could possibly reach the finish in the next three minutes. I still had to climb up to the false flat, cross it, and then make the final ascent to the summit.

Despite the fact that I wasn’t going to get even close to my goal time, I pushed to the finish and finally passing Sophie on the flat. One of my biggest challenges in racing is to continue trying when I know my result will be disappointing.

I think this time trial has something against me. I did not compete my freshman year, because I was running cross country for Dartmouth at that point. My sophomore year, I wasn’t completely healthy, and last year I had an asthma attack.

It turns out that the last time I was proud of my race was in high school.

Maybe that means I’ll have to come back and try again next year – and lucky for the Lodge, maybe I’ll split their wood, too.

We succumb to peer pressure.

This weekend I was guilty of convincing friends and acquaintances to race and support the Presidential Ridge Relay Race.

That’s why, at 3:40 on Saturday morning, I was turning on the light at the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge so we could get dressed and on the road by 4.

And that’s why, at 6:30, Hannah Dreissigacker was laying out some ground rules as we hiked up the Greenleaf Trail to Mt. Lafayette.

“If you have to fart, fart. If someone says drink water, drink. If you have to pee, stop and pee. If you need to slow down, say slow down.”

Noted.

That’s also why a few skiers were absent from practice on Sunday. We needed to recover from the 21 mile effort that left us aching and exhausted. Brett Palm’s foot was so sore that he wasn’t walking, but he thought he’d be at practice on Monday.

The idea for this race originated with Lebanon native Ed Warren, a former classmate of mine at Crossroads Academy. His Tufts Mountain Club hosted the event for the third time this year, and the first since his graduation.

Race teams and support crews from colleges around New England arrived at Crawford Notch early Saturday morning.

At 5 am, it was announced that the course was moved from the Presidentials to the Lafayette – Garfield – Zealand system because of inclement weather on Mount Washington and the ridge.

“Screw this. I just want to do the Presies. We’d be fine,” Brett grumbled. I agreed, but I wanted the sprit of competition, and I didn’t feel like getting blown off a mountain by the wind.

Cars and buses zipped off to Franconia Notch for the new start, music blaring to keep racers awake and energized. We found a station playing the Top 40 from this day in 1984.

The race course was divided into three relay legs, each four to nine miles long, and three competitors had to complete each leg together.

The Dartmouth team, which I was organizing for a third and final time, took a different approach this year. Six of us, mostly skiers, completed the entire route.

Others joined us for the first or last legs, and a few very well-appreciated friends provided us with water refills, Oreos, and dry layers at the handoffs.

On Lafayette, there was snow, enough to come over the tops of my running shoes, and ice covering the rocks that formed the trail. The wind raged, making it even colder. We all fell on the ice, but nobody was injured.

Ironically, our path was marked by the footprints of several of my Outing Club friends, who were attempting a 50-mile hike from Crawford Notch to Moosilauke. They had crossed this summit at 4 a.m., and most of them dropped out afterwards. Without their prints, it would have been hard for us to stay on the trail.

Two and a half hours after we started, we reached the first handoff on the Garfield summit.

When we arrived, we saw support crews from several schools as well as organizers from Tufts who checked every team off as they came through – we were the first. It was strange to see all these chilly faces for only a few minutes.

Hannah Jeton snapped pictures as she handed us Sunbelt coconut granola bars. We tried to change shirts with the least possible exposure to the cold, and then ran off down the other side of the mountain.

Hiking up the Twinway, I lost traction trying to climb up a rock. I was obviously tiring, and fretted that I limiting our group’s speed. “You’re not a slowpoke,” Jeremy Huckins assured me, but I didn’t buy it.

We reached the handoff atop South Twin before our support staff, but luckily Alice Bradley and David Nutt, who were joining us for the third leg, had hiked ahead and arrived in time.

On the cold summit it was another daze of faces before hustling down the other side and out of the wind.

By the third leg, we were all losing spunk, but we were also confident that we had a healthy lead.

We stopped to snack of Clif bars without worrying about the teams chasing us, and admired the foliage that, for the first time, wasn’t covered by clouds. We slipped on rocks, fell in puddles, and ran into branches as our attention to detail faded.

All in all, it took us six and a half hours, and we won, just like last year. With a team of nordic skiers, I sometimes feel like we have an unfair advantage.

Our prize was a pair of giant stuffed boxing gloves. When I put them on and punched a friend’s shoulder, they made sounds from The Hulk like “Aaarrrrrr!” and “You’re making me angry!”

We thought we had been provided with endless entertainment, but mostly we just fell asleep. Anson Moxness was a hero for driving our bus back to campus.

I sometimes think I need new friends, so that we won’t convince each other that waking up at 4 a.m. and wrecking our bodies is fun.

But who am I kidding – I love this stuff, and I have the best friends in the world.

Weekend Update: Great Circle

Since I just wrote a column about hiking which featured my friend and fellow Dartmouth senior Andrew McCauley, I figured I couldn’t write my second column about the hike we did this weekend. However, it was a really great way to spend my last few days before classes started, so here’s a summary.

Andrew and I had discussed the possibility of doing a Great Circle hike, but things didn’t come together until late Thursday night. When we met up, we realized we didn’t have a map, so we went to Robinson Hall, planned a route, confirmed that I had a tent and he had a stove, and somehow remembered to discuss dinner. We left early on Friday morning to drive up to the Lincoln Woods trailhead.

It quickly became apparent that we had different packing styles. I own one sleeping bag, rated at -5 degrees. I have one sleeping pad, a RidgeRest from elementary school, which is giant and doesn’t really fit in a pack unless you want it to be really tall. I am cold all the time, so I brought a down parka, a fleece, a softshell bike vest, and two long-sleeve shirts. Andrew thought I was crazy, and his pack was smaller and lighter than mine.

We took the Osseo Trail up to Flume, where I was excited to be able to see a view. After being out West, hiking up and up in the trees is relatively unsatisfying. After I looked out over New Hampshire for a little while, Andrew asked, “So, do you want to keep going, or what?” Right. Yes. I need to readjust my expectations back to normal.

Continuing along Franconia Ridge, we passed over Liberty, the Haystacks, and Lincoln before arriving on Lafayette, where we saw two other Dartmouth seniors eating lunch. Sam is a fellow ecology major and Nick had been in my creative writing class. Nick said, “well, you’re a skier, so this must be a piece of cake for you!” Not quite; even though we were making good time, I was worried the whole time that I was slowing Andrew down. Nevertheless, I was flattered by his compliment, because how often does a football player admire someone else’s athletic endeavors? (sorry football players, I know some of you are nice like Nick!)

View from the Lafayette summit towards the Pemigewasset Wilderness.

View from the Lafayette summit towards the Pemigewasset Wilderness.

We continued down the Garfield Ridge Trail and up and over Garfield. “I hate this mountain,” Andrew said. It’s  frustratingly steep on both sides, making a difficult climb up and a slow, sometimes nervous climb down. I’m like a hurdler with a stutter-step on rocky descents like these; even though I know that hesitating will probably increase the risk of falling on my face, I have a hard time committing to my footwork.

After a quick stop at the Galehead Hut to refill water, it was on to the Twinway, 0.8 miles of steep uphill rockwork to get to the South Twin summit. This had been described to me as “a mile of death,” which was good because I expected the worst and it didn’t seem so bad. Hiking along the ridge from South Twin I could sense the alpenglow, but we were in the trees so we couldn’t see it. We headed over the Guyot summit in the last few minutes of light and arrived at the nearby campsite just after the sun went down.

Lucky for us, there was one tent platform left. We made a quick dinner of tortellini and olive oil with side dishes of raw carrots and fig newtons. I was cold, even in my down jacket. Andrew had brought flip-flops and no socks to wear in camp. Maybe he didn’t mind being cold, but I was happy with my extra layers. We had discussed earlier how mountaineers are so soft now and how back in the day people would just hang out in disgusting weather for days and being miserable was part of the job description… Hmmm, maybe I am a wuss…

The bonus of doing a big Day 1 was that Day 2 was easy and we could sleep late. At the leisurely hour of 9, we left Guyot campsite. After climbing up a lot of rock steps to rejoin the trail, we dropped our packs and took the spur out to West Bond. While the weather had been perfect and clear the whole trip, this was the first summit that really took my breath away. It’s in the middle of the Pemi and all you see is wilderness; Franconia Ridge is blocking all the towns and structures on the other side. It has got to be one of the best summits in the state.

We hiked up and over Bond and stopped to have a snack on Bondcliff, the last summit of our trip. Bondcliff was as beautiful as West Bond, or at least close, and the cliffs reminded me of the West a tiny little bit. Except, as we noted when other hikers were afraid of standing out on the rocks, that to get to the edge of the boulders you don’t have to do any class 4 climbing or cross any scree fields.

Andrew McCauley.

Atop Bondcliff (see me?). Photo: Andrew McCauley.

The rest of our hike was downhill along the Bondcliff Trail and then a long flat section along the Wilderness Trail. This was pretty uneventful. We were tired, we’d used up a lot of conversation topics, and the Wilderness Trail has the property of making you just want to get back to the darn car. We did have a great discussion about the merits of hiking and playing ultimate frisbee in kilts and skirts though.

After a stop at Fat Bob’s in Warren to get ice cream, we arrived back on campus. I accomplished nothing that night, and was still tired today; I managed to go to the gym and make an apple pie, but that’s all. Andrew went up to Mount Washington to climb. Shall I say that I admire his energy?

Tripping.

Sometime last week, I found myself running along Franconia Ridge with a half gallon of milk and two ice packs in my backpack.

Me running is not unusual. I am a cross-country skier on Dartmouth’s ski team. However, this occasion was special. Two of my friends, Andrew and Kelly, were leading one of Dartmouth’s freshman trips, spending three days hiking the ridge with a group of seven freshmen. I was attempting to intercept their group to chat with my friends and get to know some freshmen – and play in the mountains.

In my backpack was a gift of my favorite recovery drink: chocolate milk. It has the perfect mix of carbohydrates, which are needed to replenish glycogen stores in muscles, and protein, which speeds this process. I was afraid that the milk would warm from my body heat as I hiked up the Falling Waters trail and ran the ridge, so I insulated the back of my bag with my extra shirt and placed an ice pack on either side of the carton.

The hikers took a lot longer to traverse the ridge than I had estimated. I had somehow forgotten that they had to make breakfast, break camp, and carry huge packs. When I reached the Lafayette summit, I sat down in the shelter of a stone wall and had a snack. About the time I finished eating, I heard voices, and my friends’ trip arrived on the summit.

It took Andrew a moment to realize that I was someone he knew, but then he and the other hikers put down their packs and joined me in the shelter of the wall. As they savored their chocolate milk, we introduced ourselves. It turned out that two of the seven freshmen were younger siblings of my friends, and one would be a future teammate of mine. Go figure.

After spending the summer on opposite sides of the country, I had a lot to catch up on what my friends had been up to. Rather than alienating the freshmen, our conversations ended up being useful in introducing the Dartmouth experience. Kelly was about to embark for South Africa, which brought up the topic of foreign study programs and allowed me to describe my experience in Morocco. Although the freshmen were initially quiet, they started asking questions when we mentioned something they weren’t familiar with. We talked about how to get funding for leave-term internships, how every student should go to lunch with professor Jay Davis, and which parties were best over homecoming. Andrew and I joked about how we had run against each other for the Dartmouth Outing Club presidency, and both lost; then we made a plug for the students to come on more outdoor trips.

Although one important part of the program is for upperclassmen to share advice about adjusting to college life, not everything is educational. The group had shared a campsite with a Harvard trip the night before, and, in true Dartmouth spirit, they had streaked the Crimson.

Hiking back along the ridge, we were offered magnificent views of the wilderness. While the valley towards Kinsmans’ was marred by the highway, Cannon Cliff is always a surprise jutting out from the forested ridge. The view in the other direction revealed no manmade structures, only opportunities for future trips and tantalizing reminders that fall foliage would eventually arrive.  We stopped for a snack and ate local apples with flesh so perfectly white that we thought they seemed like cartoon poison apples from Snow White.

Visiting this group of freshmen made me remember my own trip. It’s something you can’t exactly relive, because you’ll never be in the same place in your life – about to leave home for the first time and apprehensive even if you’re confident – but you can reminisce. You’ll inevitably forget how hard the hiking is with your giant backpack, and how much it sucked when it rained and you fell in that huge mud puddle and then all you had for shelter at night was a tarp. But you’ll remember the good parts, and I still have friends from my trip who I think I’ll keep for a very long time.

Now, back to the present. Senior year is about to begin and ski season is just around the corner.

My first article.

My first article.