Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wilderness Orientation Weekend at Saint Mike's.

As I mentioned in my last post, Saint Mike's runs a series of pre-orientation weekends during the summer for new students enrolling in the fall semester. One of these programs, the Wilderness Orientation Weekend (WOW), is coordinated by the Wilderness Program office (WP), and I got to co-lead one such program this past weekend. 

Having lunch on a rock, day three, Lamoille River.
There were three WOW options this year: backpacking, sea kayaking, and multi-sport. Each of these programs ran the span of three days (two nights) in the field, and each had about six participants and two WP student-instructors. I co-led one of the multi-sport options with Molly, a good friend of mine in the WP (and we were a match made in weird-heaven, if I do say so myself).

The multi-sport program consisted of three different field excursions: a day hiking, a day climbing, and a day white-water paddling. So on Saturday morning, our group woke up at 6.15, rolled out of Pontigny Hall at about 7.00, and began our ascent up Mt. Mansfield at about 7.50. The weather on Saturday was looking like it would be a bit sketchy in the afternoon, so we decided to hike up the Sunset Ridge trail in the morning so we could catch it before it got nasty (which was well worth it, because I imagine the exposed ridge line would have been much less enjoyable in a torrential downpour). We made it to the summit before noon, took the Laura Cowles trail down with a lunch break on the way, and then made it back to the campsite at Little River State Park by early afternoon.

Sunday was part-two of our multi weekend, and WP vet Mike helped us set some some top-rope climbs out at Bolton, VT (about a 15 min drive from Little River, 40 min from SMC). We spent the day working on basic belay and climbing technique, but mostly on encouraging everyone to try climbing and have fun doing it. Total, we set about 4 or 5 routes (one of which was the notorious Harvest Moon). There was a variety of strengths in the group, and it was fun to see each of the participants challenge themselves in different ways (it's also possible that I may have sent a climb myself, but that's beside the point).

Swimming the rapid, funniest face of the day.
Finally, we had white water paddling on Monday, with the infamous Todd Wright (WP director), and SMC alum Jess. Again, since there's only so much that can be fit into a day, most of our paddling excursion was spent on some basic technique, but mostly on having fun. We paddled the Lamoille River, had lunch on a rock, and at the end of the day ran a tiny rapid, which was about a mile upstream from where we parked. Before running it, each of the participants had to practice "swimming" the rapid, which is basically learning how to follow the current safely until you can swim out of it (in case you fall out of your boat). By this time, our group had meshed pretty effortlessly, joking freely and reveling at the thought of a nice, warm shower once we got home. And of everyone in the group, I think Molly and I were the most sad to see everyone go at the end of the day.

It was a great weekend, and I can't wait for fall orientation to roll around so I can see everyone again (seriously, we miss y'all!!!). I'm already looking forward to a new semester, and hopefully spending some more time outdoors with all the awesome people I got to meet on WOW.

So see y'all in a month! And thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 18, 2013


While the title of this post might sound like something you do around a campfire, it actually is a description of my activities this week (only part of which might involve a fire). 

Before the fall orientation weekend for new students, Saint Mike's runs pre-orientation weekends (POW), such as the traditional "POW", a wilderness version called "WOW", a community service one called CSOW, as well as another run by the diversity coalition and MLK, called SOAR. 

Last weekend, I was able to participate in the first POW of the summer, where I met a ton of really cool incoming students (can't wait to see y'all at orientation!!!), and bonded with the other upperclassmen running the weekend. I can't give much away, but those of us who have been on it know that it's AMAZING, and if you haven't gone, you should go!

Now, this coming weekend, I get to lead a WOW with some of my buddies in the Wilderness Program at SMC. Starting tomorrow, I'll be leading the multi-sport weekend, which includes climbing, paddling and hiking. We'll be car-camping, which is nice (although I wouldn't mind some time in the woods, I won't lie), and I expect that ghost stories and bug bites will be aplenty. 

That's it for now! Although maybe now that I have an uncracked phone I can post some pictures up here come Monday evening. 

Thanks for reading! And here's a picture of my sweet new WP hat.