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

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