A hike down memory lane
I’ve been under the weather with the flu, and 3 days at home on the couch has led me where it usually does…
Yesterday I spent looking up places in Mexico (I’m hoping for a few days somewhere beachside after my work with The Hunger Project. If you have any recommendations…hit me up).
And today I went back. Back to 2003 when I was a Camp Counsellor. A time I’ll call BB (Before Blogging). It was also before Social Media, before I had a phone that I took photos with, or used to search the Internet – or write emails (I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me that was to come!). We did have email access at camp – but it was limited (and usually meant I had to get up at 5am, or stay up after 10pm to use it for a few minutes). If Blogging had’ve been then what it is now, I have no doubt I would’ve used all my internet time at camp getting my thoughts into Blog posts.
I’ve always loved to journal though. Thankfully my friends knew this, and bought me this before I left:
Today I went back (for the first time!) and re-read what I wrote. The biggest hike during my time at camp was to Mount Washington. We lead up to that in all of our previous hikes with the 13 year old girls. It was something we talked about from our first day at camp.
To write this entry I would’ve snuck off for 5 minutes, and sat on my bed in my bunk. There would’ve been the sounds of screaming girls in the background, and pressures to get back to one of the many activities we would’ve had going on at the time. Sitting on my tiny, squeaky camp bed, with the brown scratchy blanket, in the all-wood bunk surrounded by trees – what did my (pre living in London/married/divorced/mortgage/parent) 26 year old self think of such a big hike? What were the highlights? What did I learn?
Here it is – word for word:
I just got back from the Mt Washington trip this afternoon – it was definitely a highlight of camp so far!
The girls – the Crystals (13 year olds) were so well behaved too, which made it even better. The first day we hiked up to the hut and had lunch, then up to the summit. Getting to the summit was really surreal – it was all above the tree line and we were walking up white rocks formed into steps. There were also more white rocks everywhere and piles of rocks to lead the way. We couldn’t see that far because of the clouds/mist and our hair had little droplets of water in it. One girl said that it felt like the stairway to heaven – and it did! When we were up there we couldn’t see more than a metre or two around us, so it was pretty creepy. At the top was a restaurant/gift shop/museum, weather tower, train station and car park, so it was pretty tacky. I got talking to a man in the gift shop who drove up and he said ‘You hiked up?’ and I answered ‘You drove up?’ – it was pretty funny! We got back to the ‘Lakes of the Clouds’ hut just in time for dinner (lucky, because it was so good! Cheese wholemeal quesadilla’s, and stir fry with beans, and blondies), then just chilled out until bedtime (9.30! I couldn’t wait!).
The second day the weather was terrible! As were eating breakfast I looked out the window to see it bucketing down. The read the weather report after breakfast and there was something like 60% chance of thunderstorms (anything more than 20% was too risky as we were due to hike entirely above tree level with no cover for miles). The group leader decided that we should hike down, get people to bring the vans, drive to another spot, then hike up to our next hut from there instead – so that’s exactly what we did. When we left it was still raining and there was a lot of exposed rock at the top so it took us a long time (and many falls later) to get down. I was really nervous about the conditions and how hard it was to keep the girls safe while having to concentrate so much myself.
Going up to the Madison Hut was just as bad. It rained solidly for at least half the way and we were all tired and wet. The girls only whinged a little, which considering the conditions, they did well. The Madison Hut was much nicer – it seemed newer and there were only 2 rooms with bunks 5 high (Lakes of the Clouds Hut had about 10 rooms with bunks 3 high), and the rooms were really bright. After a change of clothes we headed off for yet another fabulous meal of salad, focaccia, veggie lasagne and chocolate mocha cake (it was one of the girls birthdays). After dinner (one of the other counsellors) and I played cards, read, and tried our hardest to stay awake until 9.30 when we could go to bed.
Day 3 we just hiked down – which after the last 2 days seemed really easy. One the way home we stopped in a small town called Gorham for pizza – more ‘real food’ before heading back to camp.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed the walk (or hike) down memory lane. One thing’s for sure – I’m keen to start planning another multi day hike and go on another adventure (Hola Mexico!). It’s easy to see that my love of food hasn’t changed (!), and I sure learnt a lot during that trip about respecting the weather (side note: at Lakes of the Clouds Hut four weather patterns come together), and staying safe in all conditions.
Is Winter getting you down? Well go on, do something about it here.