- Exploration Week
During our last week at Conserve School, all of the students ventured out for a week of fun also known here as Exploration Week. I was in a group of all girls, myself included, with two trip leaders. Our group was known as "Superiors Ten." This name was appropriate because we would be heading out for six days to hike along the Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore on Lake Superior, and there were ten of us in total.
Upon arrival, everyone was very excited. "Superiors Ten" hiked two miles to our first campsite on the first day. I was amazed as I gazed down at Lake Superior for the first time from a 1,000 foot drop and stood in a field of Yellow Trout Lillys and Onions that would be delicious in our couscous for dinner. The sunset was radiant and peaceful. We sat for an hour watching the sun go down over the lake, reading aloud stories to each other, imagining what Canada looked like across the lake, and listening to the spring peepers grow loud. After settling in for the night, I found myself soon awakening, to what I knew was coming, the pitter patter of rain.
The forecast for our week-long trip was predicted to have rain every day, and that had not changed our plans. We, the Superiors Ten, drowsily ate a breakfast of warm oatmeal and dried fruit under a low hanging tarp. Although this rain was unfortunate, it had not totally dampened the mood. Beginning day two, we hiked along with the semi-flat trail, crossing many rivers and seeing all types of wildlife, including our favorite, fish. Then came lunch-time, and unfortunately, it was still raining, and cold. Dressed in raincoats and sweaters we ate lunch quickly so that we could make it to camp for the night, sooner! When we finally did make it into camp, we all tiredly, and wetly made food and set up a tent, and all was well for the time being.
Pitter patter, pitter patter, was the same sound I awoke to the next morning, only this morning, it was even colder and giant puddles had formed over our group campsite, luckily not forming under our tents! I remember the hours passing by as we waited for the rain to soften, at 7 o'clock, 8 o'clock, 9 o'clock, 10 o'clock… No change and it was seriously time to get moving. Everybody struggled to wake up and go out into the rain. After changing into our already drenched rain gear, this was the hardest point in the trip for me, but, I'm just not a morning person. We continued hiking, I enjoyed seeing the grand sights of Lake Superior and the North Country Trail, and feeling the gale force winds of “the big lake” and watching the gray, crazy-looking water crash and echo against the sandstone walls. It was sublime. But most of the day, I felt like Crocodile Dundee slogging through a swamp. A very cold swamp.
We tried to avoid the ankle-deep water that had formed on the paths, along with a current the night before, but after an hour of this, we gave up and walked straight through the sometimes shin-deep water. Everyone's boots were drenched in waters of all kinds. Making it into camp was a dream, but some of our backpack liners couldn't withstand the water and all of our tents were soaked. Our amazing trip leaders ordered the low morale group into the tents to get warm and change into somewhat dry cloths while they made dinner. Even though it was a deliciously spicy meal, it was still a cold, wet, soggy meal and everyone was beginning to give up. We hoped that tomorrow would be better. Luckily, it was!
Everyone one by one arose and braved the frigid air outside of the tents. Most of our clothes were still soaked, but the sun began to shine and come out along with a blueing of the sky. I remember trail maintenance men came along with chain saws clearing paths and told us that for the rest of our trip it was no longer supposed to rain. And for the rest of our trip, the rain did stop. The trip was amazing, beautiful and transformative. It was an extremely beneficial and reflective time for the “Superiors Ten” to take part in. Not only was it fun and a good way to bond, but it was the perfect way to say goodbye to this chapter in our lives.
Photos contributed by various members of Superiors Ten!