On Monday, November 4th, the mountain campus split into three groups and departed to go on a week-long camping trip. A majority of the trip was on the Appalachian/Long Trail. PK and JJ’s group, the one I was in, started on the trail outside of Bennington, and hiked north to towards our destination, Stratton Pond. BFree and Sandy Birch started at Mad Tom Notch, and went south towards Stratton Pond. CM and Ian Black began their trip at Griffith Lake and headed south as well, following the footsteps of BFree and Sandy Birch’s group. After two nights of camping together mainly in shelters, we all safely made it to Stratton Pond and had a nice lunch. The whole group then hiked for about an hour on the Catamount Cross Country trail until we arrived at the pre-designated teachers base camp. After debriefing on the last two days and ditching our group gear, we were handed sheets with our Solo Camping Guidelines. The group was split into two, and sent in opposite directions on the trail. The Solo spots were laid on in a formation where one person would be on one side off of the trail, and another person would be on the opposite side; then, about 50-75 yards down/up the trail would be another two spots.
The first night was windy and moderately cold. After awakening to rain, we ate our breakfast and walked down with our empty water bottles to a designated place on the trail with a bag full of things for us to do throughout the day. Upon getting our bag, students were surprised to see letters from their parents, along with a snickers bar, and some writing prompts. As the sun lowered, the temperatures went along with it, and everything that was once wet froze, including our boots. However, the teachers pulled through and boiled hot water to put into our water bottles so our sleeping bags could be warm. The next morning, we were awoken at 8 o’clock sharp by our teachers and told to pack and meet at their base camp, where we would have a breakfast, and share what we had encountered on our two day solo.
After a filling breakfast consisting of hot oatmeal, granola with warm milk. and hot cocoa, we packed up our gear, and climbed to the peak of Stratton mountain and ate lunch while a heavy snow squall moved in. We then hiked down the face of the mountain on Mikes Way to where we met the buses that were so kindly left for us, and ended our journey. Despite the cold temperatures and inclement weather, all the students wore smiles on their faces and were thrilled at what they had accomplished. This will be an experience that will never be forgotten.