Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Washington Coast Hike - March 31, 2014 - April 4, 2014

This quarter's 8th grade Adventure Education trip was balanced by extremely beautiful weather for the first three days, followed by pouring rain the final two. Tides were difficult to negotiate and required an early start to the day. My group had to wait out a particularly high tide up on a rocky beach around a campfire for three hours on the second day. Students took this setback in stride and, throughout the entire trek, displayed a stalwart resolve and a willingness to help each other in times of need.

One highlight for me was discovering, on our third hiking day, a completely intact grey whale in the area north of Norwegian Memorial and south of Yellow Banks. In the ten years that I have been walking this particular stretch of coastline, I have only discovered one other intact whale. It was located on the south shore of Tskawahyah Island (Cannonball Island) near the Ozette village site. I'm looking forward to visiting it again in early June.

We woke to rain on our fourth day. Students donned rain gear and opened their umbrellas. We hiked for approximately five-and-a-half miles to our campsite at Cape Alava. After arriving at camp, students quickly set up their tents, took off their wet gear and slipped into their sleeping bags. The wind came up strong during the daylight hours and was accompanied with bouts of pouring rain. A few of us fussed with a smoldering campfire for about two hours. Wood is very difficult to acquire at Alava. Justin found a bunch of cedar that we split open and used. It seemed like each time the fire was taking off, the sky would open up and damper it down. For years I've noticed an enticing group site just south of Cape Alava. There is more access to wood there and plenty of old growth Sitka Spruce for shelter. I'm looking forward to giving it a try next trip. The part of the fourth day that I really did enjoy was climbing under my tarp, getting into my dry sleeping bag and journaling about the trip. In my experience, nothing really beats a well-pitched tarp. Underneath, you can stay connected to your surroundings and remain comfortably dry at the same time. Writing in the out-of-doors is especially gratifying.

I would like to especially thank Greyson and Lewis for taking on fire making duties at every campsite. The pair was a fine-tuned machine who took a leadership role role in this critical area of camplife.

The hike photo album can be viewed here.

Special thanks to the group leaders Donald Heggenes, Justin Stacey and Don Zisette. Your guidance was instrumental in making this another successful trip.


Nels Bergquist

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Below are student reflections on their trip experience:

I learned that in times of challenging circumstances there are no social boundaries among my peers. People I normally wouldn’t “hang out with,” I got along well with. I have begun new friendships with people I didn’t really know before.

- Catherine

I thought about the crazy once in a lifetime trip that I did twice and thought, “How was I crazy enough to do that twice?” Then I realized that there may be hardships more than any that we would encounter normally, but the difficulties just add to the overall accomplishment.

- Joe

Teamwork makes life easier.

- Ben

On our second day, and we had just arrived at our campsite. Smack dab in the center of our campsite was this enormous tree with two little swings hanging off of it. The swings were fun...but we took it a step further. We scavenged around on the beach for a buoy, and a long rope. We brought them back to our campsite, and found some way to tie the rope around one of the big branches, next we knocked down as many of the dead branches surrounding it (which wasn't easy). We had our entire group including the adults to pull them down. Lastly we tied the buoy to the end of the rope and made a giant swing that looked like a wrecking ball.

- Sophia

I all around LOVED the trip. One of my favorite parts was the camp fires. We would have camp fires every night. We would all gather around the fire and play games like truth and dare, ten fingers and would you rather. We gradually began to learn more about each other and become very close.

One of the most important things I learned on the trip is how to survive. I learned that I don’t need a phone or a computer to live. I learned that I don't need the internet, however much I may like it.

- Nora

My new saying is, "Stay positive and push through it."

- Sabastian

I learned that life is actually really fun when not everyone is on their phones and iPods and are actually talking. I never knew these people that I have gone to school with were so fun to be around.

- Sam

Cedar Creek Meets Pacific
At the beginning of the trip, I was cautious and a little slow moving, because I was afraid of falling or slipping. But by the end I was faster and made quicker decisions, which helped me when I wanted to get out of the rain. And I REALLY wanted to get out of the rain!

- Mackenzee

I think the best part of the trip was the second campsite. It had two rope swings already made, plus Kolby's uncle made another one that was really fun. It swung all the way across the creek and back. Also it had a really nice sandy beach that we could run around on. That night was one of the best ones on the trip. The sunset was really pretty and Nora and I took a bunch of cool photos.

- Elizabeth

Everything was made a lot easier just by giving people a hand with something. I think that without the other people in my group it would have been a lot harder and less fun. That's why I think that helping each other out might be the most important thing that I learned on this trip.

- Greyson

I learned that when camping/hiking keeping dry is very important. I always knew that you should stay dry when hiking but I never knew how very important it actually was. Plus, I learned that trust plays a huge role while hiking in a big group or pack of people.

- Lewis

The important thing that I learned was that even when you are extremely miserable you have to keep going. On the wet rocks I was tired and wet from stepping in a puddle of salt water. I was telling myself, "I can't believe I wanted to go on this trip." When I would fall I lay there. The last thing I wanted to do was get up because I knew I was just going to fall again. What I did was get up, one because I was told to by the chaperone and two because I had to keep going. There was nothing else I could do. Where else would I have learned such an important lesson other than a five day hiking trip?

- Kolby

The first two days I didn't feel very connected to the members of my group. But on Wednesday night, we all sat around the campfire I made and talked. I can't tell you the specifics of what we talked about because we all made a vow not to, but I can say that after that night and the hard hike we had had earlier in the day, we almost felt like family. And I think that our bond increased the next day when we walked over eight miles on treacherous terrain. We were all mentally encouraging each other. We were all rooting for each other. It was a kind of vibe, you might say. A vibe that can't really be explained, but has to be felt.

- Hank

One important thing that I learned on the trip was even though some days you really feel like you can't do it anymore, you have to tough through it and make the best of that day.

- Breann

One of the most important things I learned on the trip was to be prepared. You have to expect the unexpected and adapt to any circumstance.

- Andrew

It is good if you walk with a stick. It's great for balance and stability. I went through many good staves...

- Liam

Washington Coast Hike - June 9 - 13, 2013

This June, the seventh and eighth graders enjoyed the usual mix of sun and rain. Students took it all in stride and made the most out of the five day, four night trek.

At the Cedar Creek site, students fished among the shadows of logs that have, over the years, accumulated in the fresh water. This was the first time that anyone from the program cast their line in the creek. Ian and Maxfield successfully landed trout. I was impressed by their patience and skill.

After a rainy hike to Yellow Banks, the group tucked in against a rock face and built a warming fire. There was plenty of driftwood in the area and a slight wind to stoke the flames. Although the smoke was a unpredictable, the group was able to dry clothing, socialize and get a little reprieve from the rainy conditions. Making the best out of a difficult situation is an important skill that everyone can improve on.

To be honest, I don't mind experiencing a little adverse weather on the coast trip. How can a person really appreciate comfortable conditions if they do not know the alternative? Hardship brings people together. Respect is earned through shared, difficult experiences. The coast offers challenges that require serious work to solve. Although this adventure demands much, I have not tired of presenting it to the students of Langley Middle School.

Feel free to view the hike photo album.

Special thanks to Danielle Gianni, Rocco Gianni, Erik Jokinen and Justin Stacey. You folks made this trip possible.


Nels Bergquist

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Taking Shelter at Yellow Banks

Washington Coast Hike - October 8 - 12, 2012

In October, the seventh and eighth grade Adventure Education class had a successful twenty-five mile journey on the Washington coast.

The hike photo album can be viewed here.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank trip leaders Ryan Davenny, Rocco Gianni and Don Zisette. You were the drivers behind another successful trip to the rugged Washington coast.


Nels Bergquist

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Campfire at Cedar Creek
Below are student reflections on their trip experience:

This trip has everything and is very beneficial to students in many ways. This trip has every school subject in it plus more all rolled into one.

- Hannah

Sometimes you need a moral boost. And who better to provide that then friends. On the second day I was not feeling well. My stomach churned from the horrid meal I had eaten for dinner. My head was pounding with pain. I sat by the small fire, miserable. Around me, everyone was talking and laughing. But soon they noticed that I wasn’t joining in the fun. After they learned of my discomfort, they did all they could to make me feel better. In a few short minutes, my pain seemed to disappear. All of my mind was on the good time I was having. I’m thankful for that. Friends are really the best.

- Cory

I have to say one of the most important things I learned was at night you have to be very careful where you put your backpack. If you put it in the wrong place, it could end up an utter disaster. The first night, for example, I left my pack away from my tent and near a creek. In the middle of the night, I groggily heard, “bang, bang, boof, boof, boof, splash.” When I woke in the morning, I couldn’t find my stuff until I looked down toward the creek. There it was, sitting in the water. The raccoons had gotten it, but thankfully everything was still there and dry. I sure learned my lesson. For the rest of the trip I kept my pack inside the tent!

- Joe

The main thing I learned was friendship. When we were walking we waited for the others when they were behind. When someone was taking a rest I took a rest with them, even if it meant I would be behind. It made me feel good. It made me feel warm inside. What I learned is important to learn, most people don’t get this and that this is important. I wish everyone would learn this. I wish I had learned this sooner than later. I don’t know anything more important than friendship. Friendship is amazing!

- Kaylah

All in all, I definitely learned something. Adults don’t need to help you with most of your life, nor do you need them to remind you to do things like ‘put everything under the fly at night’ (which I did pretty well). We can be self-sufficient, not always needing someone else to help. If your stuff gets soaked, don’t blame your friend for not helping you. Blame yourself for not taking care of the problem! This trip taught 18 (most of which were pretty immature) middle-schoolers independence. There aren’t a whole lot of ways you can do this, especially at this age. That is the most important thing I learned from this trip.

- Sean

When I signed up for the Adventure Education course I wasn't sure of what to expect. Once I finished the trip, I learned a lot and hope every kid could have the chance to go on this trip. It was enjoyable and difficult at the same time, but that was what made it fun. It was beautiful and inspiring and I loved being in the outdoors and always will. I recommend this trip to anyone, and hope this course will be around for a long time. I had a lot of fun and ended up making a lot of new friends.

- Sophia

The most important thing that I learned was how important it was to have a friend. If you plan to go on this trip, a friend can cheer you up, comfort you,  laugh with you, help you, and, most of all, be a friend.

- Sylvanus

When we got back into the car to go to Fat Smitty’s I just thought about all those Ozette people who had lived out there just like we live on Whidbey Island. I kept thinking how they had to hunt for there food. We just have to go and pick it up at the grocery store. No hunting for us!

- Taylor

The most important thing I learned was I am way stronger than I thought I was because I used to think I couldn't even put on a 30 pound backpack much less carry one 25 miles along the coast.

- Wren