Trip #1 : Adirondack Community College
May 15 – 19, 2010
Participating as a student on a five-day wilderness leadership course in the Adirondack Forest Preserve’s wilderness, with the special treat of predicted perfect weather, would surely be a memorable experience. But, only if you show up.
Eight students were enrolled to complete the field component of Adirondack Community College’s AVS 101, Introduction to Backcountry Living, course, for which I was the field instructor, but one student cancelled the day before we were due to leave. Three other students didn’t show up the day we were supposed to leave. By the end of day one, another student was removed from the course by sneaking in his cell phone. To top things off, my teaching assistant got food poisoning and had to leave the trip by the morning of day two.
And then there were three: me and my two students, Alex and Nick. But, small groups travel fast. While their peers were playing video games and sleeping in late and my teaching assistant was suffering from stomach pains, we were embracing the backcountry. In three short days we climbed six peaks above 2,500 feet (six of them were trailless), visited nine bodies of water, hiked 26 miles, climbed nearly 7,000 vertical feet, and forded one knee-deep stream. Who says three’s a crowd?
Trip #2 : Oneonta State University
May 24 – 28, 2010
A heat index of 100 degrees and bugs of Biblical proportions made for a challenging five-day Oneonta State University leadership course in Pharaoh Lakes Wilderness Area, Adirondack Mountains, where I served as lead instructor. Luckily I wore the same pair of Darn Tough Micro Crew Cushion socks and didn’t get any blisters through five days of stagnant heat.
One evening it was too hot to have the door of my shelter zipped closed. I woke up with 110 mosquitoes in my tent. To cool off I wanted to go swimming but found my swim hole occupied by a snapping turtle, a northern water snake, and several leeches measuring five inches in length. They didn’t derail my swim plans but I got in and got out fast.
Stumbling upon random things in the woods seems to be my specialty. When my assistant instructor and I climbed an unnamed, remote peak in the wilderness area to escape the bugs we found several handmade small statues on display in the middle of nowhere. Nearby was a large crystal, three walls made of sticks, and a wall made of stone. We camped there for the night, dubbing it “The Vortex,” and thankfully woke up in the same dimension.