By Maram Sharif ’22
In early October, Mr. Fladager announced the first backpacking trip of the 2021-2022 year for Outdoors Leadership folks. The offer sounded quite tempting, but considering that my previous experiences with overnight camping did not leave me with the best memories, I was hesitant to sign up. After some explanation of what the trip would entail from Mr. Fladager, I decided to take a risk and sign up for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. After all, what’s the worst thing that could happen?
The preparation for the trip was on Friday, October 8th, when Mr. Fladager took backpacking friends to South Street to gear up for the upcoming adventure. Without much familiarity with backpacking equipment, I was intrigued by all the tools that I have never used before. After a quick lesson on how to efficiently pack a backpack, we were given a checklist to make sure we were equipped with everything we needed for our trip ahead.
The following day after the end of classes, we were ready to launch our first backpacking trip. The five students and three adults were off to Mountain Bear in an FGS Van for about a one-hour drive. Of course, the place was packed due to the fact that it was the weekend, but we managed to find a parking spot nonetheless. We started our hike to the Sage’s Ravine campsite at 1:45pm. A couple of granola-bar breaks, a few subtle stumbles and lots of panting later, we made it to the campsite. It was around 5:30pm, giving us just about enough time to set up our tents and have some juicy grub before the sunset.
Exhausted by hiking with 25 pounds on my back, I was more than ready to devour some delicious food. Mr. Fladager taught us how to cook over a stove, and we began to eat some lovely mac & cheese and sausage that was made by our cooking team.
After some cleaning up by the students’ clean-up team, we shared some of the most horrifying experiences that we had in the woods— I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a better way to end the night, especially when you’re about to spend the next 12 hours by yourself and end up as the nextdoor bear’s yummy grub.
Although I thought the thrill of not knowing what would happen next would stand in the way of getting a good night’s sleep, my exhaustion won the battle and I had a restful night. We started off the morning with some honey and bagels, herbal tea and coffee, and packed our things to hike another steep 2 miles to the summit.
The hike to the top was not easy, but many aspects about it made the hike truly worth it. I did not only appreciate the beauty of nature more, but I was also inspired by my peers who persevered. Every time one of us was on the verge of giving up, others had them push through. I remain eternally grateful for this eye-opening journey, where the beauty of human beings and nature intertwined.
Mountain Bear left me breathless, and it’s not only because of the hills.