Saturday, June 14, 2014

Washington Coast Hike - June 2 - 6, 2014

Yellow Banks at Sunset
I have been thinking about how to adequately summarize the fourth quarter hike on the Washington coast. I've settled on the word "SUN." It is truly beautiful being out on the coast when the weather cooperates so completely. In early June, the warm feeling was contagious. It prompted exploration, games on the beach and plenty of smiles.

At Cedar Creek, students spent hours building a sand castle and protected it from the incoming tide by constructing a massive log bulkhead. I watched as it withstood a barrage of waves before the tide finally retreated, leaving the castle intact.

On our third day, we encountered the south-bound group in our usual spot two miles north of Cedar Creek. It's always a treat for students and guides to swap stories, share food and take a short break. After shouldering the packs, we continued northward and, after about thirty minutes, came upon the beached grey whale that we stumbled upon back in early April. The change in its appearance was pretty dramatic. The outer grey layer of the epidermis, which had just begun to fall from the body two months ago, had completely shed. The whale had taken on a copper color which was quite dramatic. It had ripened to the point that it took a little prompting to gather all hikers for a group photo. I hope to see the next stage of decomposition when we head back out in early October.

Cape Alava is the best spot to play games. In the late afternoon, the group was introduced to "Ninja Stealth." This game is a mix of hide-and-seek and red light, green light. I enjoyed joining in on several rounds. My strategy was to methodically work my way up while the Ninja's back was turned. There was a particular tree that I had the most success attacking from. Timing is everything. I can only say that I had a blast.

In the evening, the group played the game "Mafia." This game is best played around the campfire at night. A darkened environment adds greatly to the suspense. I played the God role while the students became villagers. Hannah won the very first game by eliminating all of the other villagers while keeping her identity as the mafia a secret. This is no small feat.

As always, students were required to write daily in their hike journal. On the April trip, Justin suggested having them compose poetry. I've successfully integrated poetry walks into my English classes at Langley Middle School. The addition of this requirement made complete sense. Place-based writing can be very powerful. I've shared some of what they wrote below.

The hike photo album can be viewed here.

I would like to personally thank Justin Stacey, Erik Jokinen, Don Zisette and Rocco Gianni for their selfless support on this trip. Your experience and leadership made this another successful trek.


Nels Bergquist

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Northbound Group with Grey Whale
Below are student reflections on their trip experiences punctuated by some noteworthy poetry written on the hike:

Before I went on this trip, I was having second thoughts about even going, because I've never been that much of an outdoorsy person. It turns out that I had the best time I've had in a long time. I'm really glad I went, and if there was another opportunity for me to go, I would, because even though the trip was difficult, I really enjoyed it, and I learned a lot from it.

Gigantic boulders
Making my feet very sore
I wish this was sand

Cooking Top Ramen
With tasty chicken flavor
Makes me full and warm.

- Ryan

The world isn't all about being social and always talking to people. It is also about just being. Being in the moment and not thinking about what I'm going to do this weekend or when my friends going to get up and play with me. It's about being there and letting my mind soak it all in, seeing how beautiful the world is without distractions.

Do you ever
just sit
and wonder just how vast
the ocean really is?
Or just how vast
the sky really is?
I have, and I know
they only go as far
as your imagination
can take you

- Ari
Hannah's "Coon Knife"
This trip was mind-blowing. I saw so many amazing sights, and hiked to so many amazing places. I saw so much beautiful wildlife, and got to have five days where I could truly appreciate nature. I learned so much, not just about backpacking, but about life in general. I was pushed physically, but it was totally worth it. It was an exciting and incredible trip that I will never forget.

Out on the coast, so wild and free
Busy lives just a memory.
Hiking to see such amazing sights
The fun keeping me up those nights.
The trip, sadly, is over now
But forgetting it? That I'll never allow!

Petroglyphs on rocks
Remnants of the Makahs' past
History through art

- Grace

A very important lesson that I learned on the trip was that people you don't usually hang out with during school are still super fun to talk to and goof around with. It was a great experience finding out about it. I had a lot of fun laughing and socializing with them.

Running cool water
cold streams near the ocean shore
refreshing water

- Alex

Mostly I just learned more about taking care of myself. I felt a lot more independent on the trip.

- Aengus

I learned a lot about the Leave No Trace program. It teaches us how to leave a very minimal trace if any while camping or backpacking.

Logs, rocks, and sand
dirt, trees, and cliffs
all of these are everywhere
on the Washington Coast

Sand is in my shoes
and my shoulders ache
all of these are worth it
to sit around a campfire
with your friends

- Kade
Approaching Hole-in-the-Wall
The worst thing is raccoons, they take your stuff and it sucks. One thing that I love is the friends you make, like you share a bond with the other people in your group. I also learned that Mr. J is Finnish.

 - Spencer

I loved sleeping out in the open underneath all the glittering stars. I learned to find myself as a human being on this trip. I believe that I connected with myself mentally in many ways. Other people will figure this out for me for sure, but I think that I came out of this trip a different person.

The Dinner

I will spear a coon
I will make it my dinner
That coon tasted good

- Hunter

The part of the trip that was most enjoyable was the camping because you got to have a fire almost every night and find the best spot in the campground and set up your tent if you got there early enough.

Always wear your sunscreen
it will protect you
if you don't
you will be as red
as a lobster

- Mitchel

I had a fantastic group, funny jokes to remember forever, camp stories for life, and so many inside jokes I want to tell people but they won't even begin to understand. I hope the high school will come up with a program for high schoolers to go on this trip with middle schoolers as extra credit work or just for being a chaperone. So thanks to all the teachers both years, and my group for 4th quarter. you all made this my favorite trip, and I hope we can all stay friends for a long time!

Big fires,
Sore feet.
Big smiles,
Sore backs.
All-in-all it was
the best trip ever!

- Gwyn

Doing this trip can really surprise you about what you can and can't do. You really think about what you would be doing if you weren't on the trip. It makes you realize that you are not enjoying the world to its full extent. At least that's how it is for me. The first day I realized that before the trip, I wasn't enjoying the outdoors as much as I should. I noticed a lot of things about me that day. Looking at how the trees towered over me like skyscrapers made me think about how many trees and nature we have in Washington. All the time that I'm watching a movie or playing video games, I could be outside enjoying nature. I also realized that day that no matter how much you prepare, the trip will physically surprise you. This has been a life changing trip and I wish that everyone could have an experience like this one.

- Owen
Life on the Rocks
On this trip I learned a lot. One of the many things I learned was that I needed to pack less things. In my backpack, I need to make my stuff more organized. But how can I learn if I am not wrong? You learn from mistakes.

I saw a coon last night
I saw it eating
Next thing I know
My pot was missing

The stench is overwhelming
I wonder what it is
"What's that over there?" said Marsh
"The whale," Rohan says

- Cameron