Saturday, October 11, 2014

Washington Coast Hike - October 6 - 10, 2014

Hand - Cape Johnson
In early October, the weather cooperated with us once again. We didn't experience a drop of rain until our hike through the rainforest on the final day. The slightly overcast skies kept the sun off our backs. The natural air conditioning of the coast took the edge off the grueling hikes. The tides also played a roll in breaking up the hiking day.

Due to the tides, our trek became an exercise in patience. The highs peaked out at around the noon hour. Both hiking groups had to hunker down for about four hours each day and wait for the tide to slack back a safe distance from the rocky headlands and logs. Surprisingly, I started looking forward to this unique rhythm of the day. We would wake, have a little breakfast, pack our gear and hike for a couple miles.

Knowing this stretch of coastline quite well, I was able to tuck us into relatively comfortable resting places to wait for the tide. Students and adults alike soon became accustomed to the down time. I never heard a single complaint. While waiting, time was spent around a warming fire. Students often brought out their sleeping pads and caught a nap. Others socialized while having a bite to eat. Chaperones took their time stretching out.

Waiting Out the Tide - North Norwegian Memorial
At Chilean Memorial, I placed each individual in a secluded spot for about thirty minutes. During this solo time, I encouraged them to be completely aware of their surroundings. After some quiet contemplation, I encouraged each student to capture the moment in a poem. It's important for students to remove themselves from the banter of camp-life and reflect. Many students shared positive thoughts related to the experience. Although I have used "solo time" activities in the past, I was inspired this time by a book called "Naturography" by Erin Waterman, the mother of Carli (a student on the current trip). Her blog post can be found here.

On day three, we came across what was left of the grey whale we first spotted in late March. It's amazing to me how quickly it has broken down. Bones were scattered down the beach. I was able to identify many vertebrae, ribs, a shoulder blade and the lower jaw. The light was fading fast at the time of encounter. I took a few pictures, but wished I'd had more time to search the area. It took approximately seven months for the whale to completely break down.

Jawbone - South Yellow Banks
The northbound group had a strong desire to help each other. Damien, Aryeh and Anthony constantly positioned themselves on slippery areas to help other group members over difficult areas. Carli and Sophie offered to fill water bottles in streams on a regular basis. Witnessing these selfless acts always confirms what I already know to be true about Langley Middle School students - they are wonderful human beings.

Shoulder Blade Scale - South Yellow Banks
The hike photo album can be viewed here.

I would like to thank Sheila McCue, Beth Mead, Erik Jokinen and Charles Snelling for their selfless support on this trek. Your experience and leadership made this another successful hike.


Nels Bergquist

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Below are student reflections on the recently completed trip on the Washington coast:

During my dinner, I sat myself on a log and watched the water. For about thirty minutes I studied this Blue Heron fishing. The Heron struck and flew off with a small fish in its beak. This was the first time I had ever witnessed such a thing.

Before I went on this trip, I was not the best team worker, but now I'm better at it. I also love helping out people more, because I know how it feels to be helped, and it feels good.

The Adventure Ed. trip is something I will never forget for the rest of my life. Now that I have done this trip, I have decided that I want to do more backpacking.

- Sophie

I have never been on a long hike before. I didn't know that keeping yourself dry was so important. It is very uncomfortable hiking when you are wet. Packing your backpack as light as possible but still having everything you need is important. I learned to appreciate the clean water I have at home. Having a positive attitude even when you are tired is something I will remember. It really makes the hike a lot easier. Complaining doesn't help. I would like to do more hiking in the future.

- Alex

When things would get a little hard at times, I would just think about that fat burger I was going to get on the way home with a tall milkshake from Fat Smitty's.

Be sure to pack your patience. If not, you will quickly learn how to have some. Waiting for the tides to go out was sometimes daunting. I would have to remind myself that it's better to be safe than to be sorry.

- Anthony

This was a HUGE learning experience for me. I had to learn to slow down and help people across difficult parts. Not that I really minded. I just was not used to having to wait for other people.

I would recommend this trip to anyone with a strong mindset, a love for hiking and a strong desire to finish what you start. This program is a valuable opportunity of kids to see how far they can go. Also to find out how strong they are. It is an experience I will never forget.

- Damien

Tent View - Cedar Creek
One thing I learned was how to time the tides. I already knew a little bit about tides, but I was able to put it into practice.

I also learned not to put my bear can right outside our tent. A skunk had some interest in my bear can and we and my tent are lucky he wasn't anything but interested. The biggest thing I learned on this Adventure Ed. trip was that I am capable of hiking and camping for twenty-two miles. Every step was worth it and the Adventure Ed. trip was a great experience that I will never forget.

- Michael

The entire trip was one of the greatest weeks of my life. One of the best parts was being with other kids I don't normally hang out with. It was like a wilderness breakfast club.

Most important, I learned how strong and capable I am. If we can learn so much about the world and ourselves in just five days, I think we should spend more time outside when we are at school. I hope one day there will be more schools that give opportunities like this. When I was on the coast I learned so many things without realizing I was learning and I enjoyed it more than being stuck inside. There is no way I could have done this trip by myself. It showed me how important teamwork is in life.

I have been inspired on this trek and I hope I can use this new found inspiration for something amazing. It feels strange being confined to a classroom after being outside and free. I can't wait for another opportunity to go out and have an adventure.

- Carli

On this trip, I worked myself harder physically than I have ever worked, and it was a lot more work than I thought it would be.

The breaks were one of the best things on the hikes each day. Some of the activities we did during the breaks were ultimate frisbee, hunting for crabs and looking for animal bones.

I really enjoyed my experience and learned a lot about the outdoors and surviving in the wild.

- Russell

After going on this trip I have found that there is more to life than just sitting at home and watching TV all day. Go outside and just explore, you don't always need something to do. Go for a walk or hike and see what you can find or discover.

- Noah

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