Sunday, October 7, 2012

Instructor Training on Mt. Mansfield

I just got back this afternoon from an approximately 30-hour excursion in the Vermont wilderness, and it was quite a trip. This semester, I'm training as a prospective SMC Wilderness Instructor, and this weekend in the back country (or side country? not solid on the distinction) was a part of the selection process; the first part already happened a few weeks back after a group processing meeting.

It was a great experience. On Friday, we had a packing meeting where we brought all our equipment to the program's outfitter in Cashman Hall to make sure we had everything we'd need for the weekend. Then, after unpacking and re-packing, we went over how to set up camp, split up the food, and set a departure time for the next morning.

Thus, Saturday morning, I woke up at six-thirty, double-checked my pack, and made my way over to Cashman at quater-of for departure at seven. After we were all packed and ready to go, we swung by Bagel Market around the corner from school (SOOO good, have their pumpkin bagel with pumpkin cream cheese), and made our way to Mansfield.

When we got there, we realized we had to wait until nine to begin the hike so that we could pay the guards and park our van, so we had a bit of a time gap where we were able to go over logistics and get to know each other more as a group. After nine, we got our packs together, took care of any last-minute details (i.e. bathroom, because back country), and set out on our hike.

I was the first leader, and the beginning of the hike was pretty easy. We stopped to shed layers and drink water, mostly. But it didn't stay so calm.

I wish I had a picture, cause this one could probably speak ten thousand. But seriously, I can't fully describe how, when we got to unexposed terrain, the wind was pushing us over, the rain flew sideways and sounded like hail drops on the side of the hood of your rain jacket. It was foggy; when we finally made it to the summit there was no view but the cloud we were surrounded by, so it was a touch and go, then a beeline towards cover. It was kick-butt and awesome, but at the time it was a lot colder, too.

The weather persisted like this for a while, but we did our best to stay on decent trails and stay warm. Although it wouldn't be inaccurate to say that we hit our sleeping bags like a ton of bricks that night (though not before a seemingly huge dinner of pene pasta and creamy pesto with mountain spice ;p).

The next day was much more calm, and we did a few more miles than the day before. All in all, it was a great experience, and another step towards hopefully becoming a Wilderness Instructor!

Thanks for reading!

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