Night Hike
Haley Chelsvig, Outdoor Skills Teaching Fellow

A few weeks ago, in Outdoor Skills class, students started prepping for solos by becoming more familiar with the night. They took part in the CS19 Night Hike, led by Outdoor Skills teaching staff. The weather was starting to cool off, leaves were in peak color, and snow was forecasted to be arriving at our doorstep, yet Mother Nature gifted us with warm temps and clear skies so we could take in all the night has to offer. 

We began the night by gathering around an inviting campfire and then broke off into smaller groups to silently walk in the woods. There was no use of headlamps or flashlights. Instead, we let rhodopsin do its magic in our eyes. We listened to the leaves sway above our heads, barred owls call back and forth, found the constellation, Cassiopeia, in the night sky, and shared her story while watching shooting stars streak across the darkness.

As we made our way back, everyone took part in a solo or partner walk to familiarize themselves with the feeling of being alone in the dark so that it wouldn't be such a new feeling during solos. To complete the evening, we assembled as a class back at the fire. We were greeted by the sounds of coyotes barking to each other in the distance. It felt wonderful to know that we are living in a place that is surrounded by such abundant wildlife. We don’t have to travel to find the woods and all the animals within, instead, the woods are a part of our home. 

Before leaving the warmth of the fire, we left the students with the following poem: 

The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn't interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon...
I want to know
if you have touched
the center of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life's betrayals
or have become shriveled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn't interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore, trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn't interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the center of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

Photo contributed by CS19 student, Alona, Pineville, NC.

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