Class in the Woods

We weren’t allowed to bring our phones, which was good for us, but it also meant that I don’t have any photos. So I’ll write them for you.

We walked our stuff maybe ten minutes in, to a sloped clearing with blueberries and a cabin. The cabin’s wood is still golden and new. Inside there is a loft, and stale S’more supplies. It was really beautiful, with one wall turned into art by cutting the panels differently into a quilt of golden hues. It was built by an NMH alumni and is free for the public to use as long as you tell him you’re using it. You can tell he put a lot of effort into building something beautiful.

I slept in a tent though because I didn’t want to wake the other girls up, I get up pretty early. So I helped set up the tent. We just sat around for a while watching the view. The hills below us were bathed in orange light. It was probably one of the coolest sunsets I’ve ever seen.

But then night came. It comes pretty quickly  when there’s stuff still to be done. The mosquitos were flocking around us and we couldn’t see very well in the gloom, but we collected enough fuel wood to build a survival fire. Ben showed us how to place the logs on the bottom pointing in the cardinal directions, and then put a large ball of very small tinder in the center. Then you pile twigs around that, then small sticks, bigger sticks and finally big branches. That way it protects the inner wood from getting too wet in case it rains.

We put the flame in the center, and the way the fuel was arranged within a few seconds we had a huge fire. It drove away the mosquitos, and it was extremely hot.

Ben brought out the marshmallows right then. And the graham crackers and chocolate. And the bananas, peanut butter and nutella. Also known as ultimate smores. They are ambrosia, the food of the gods. They also happen to be even more ultimate when you are gluten intolerant, so can’t eat graham crackers, so end up eating it straight from your hand. They are heaven.

After we had stuffed ourselves with s’mores Ben had another class activity for us. He led us down the trail to the lower part of the clearing. We could barely see our way down. Everyone was holding each other’s shoulders and the sound of stubbed toes filled the night air.

We were told to spread out, and we had to sit still and be quiet for 30 minutes with no flashlights. We were listening and watching the woods. I heard a toddler crying down the valley. An owl who-ing. Down by the edge of the woods we heard knocks. Ben told us later it was deer, signaling us to see if we were deer too. But the main reason that we sat out there for that long was so we could get our night vision. It takes 25-30 minutes after seeing a bright light, and with it you have better depth reception and you can obviously see better too. It was really cool. Everyone practically ran up the hill now that they could see.

Now we all got ready for bed. It was slow because there was an average of one flashlight per three people, but eventually everyone got ready. Then all of us girls went into the cabin, and we started telling each other stories. I think everyone’s favorites were the from Taizha and Natoma, who are both Native American. We heard about Skin Walkers, demons who haunt the wild and will stare at you through your bedroom window at night. Or the evil spirit that possessed Auntie during the full moon. But when we asked them if they knew any bright and cheery stories they couldn’t come up with any.

I said this before, but I wake up early, with the rising sun. As Heather, who was in the tent too (as well as Belle) said, ‘You just sat up and you were ready for the day. Do you usually wake up at 5?’ It was sprinkling lightly outside. I was really bored because no one else was even close to waking up. So I ate some blueberries. I was still bored, so I started collecting wood for the fire this morning. After maybe an hour, no one was up still, I read some of “Lord of the Flies”. I couldn’t read long because I was cold and the pages were getting damp from the mist. I started putting the fire together, and the rain finally started coming down. I threw the last of the wood on and ran for the tent. I dove in, all wet. Of course, then Tim and Ben, our teachers, got up because their tent didn’t have a rain cover.

Wow. Yep.

We used a huge amount of birch bark to start the fire, because it burns when it’s wet, it has so many oils. We used maybe a whole (dead) tree before everything caught fire.

We got less miserable after that. For breakfast we feasted on sausages, bagels with cream cheese, pancakes, roast bananas, and more marshmallows. It was a great breakfast. Almost everyone slept in really late, and one actually went to sleep again after eating breakfast.

We (or more accurately some of us) lugged our stuff back, and then they actually gave us a taxi service to all of our dorms. But not to Crossely.

And that is my extremely short account of what we did on our camping trip.

One thought on “Class in the Woods

  1. Might I suggest that this is BETTER than photos? [And blame NMH for the lack of a rain fly on our tent. It wasn’t the first time the school’s equipment let us down.]

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