Eleven students and 5 adult leaders for Team North Face traveled to Colorado and Utah from June 28th-July 9, 2016, exploring environmental and cultural aspects of the West, while taking time to reflect inward on our own personal and group journey. Here’s the trip perspective from that of its students:
As we pulled away from Oceanside West, steam still rising from the road, we all had looks of nervousness on our faces for the impending mayhem that was to come in the rush in the airport to get to our gate in one piece, efficiently and without a hitch. The bus ride to the airport acted as a kind of calm before the storm, as it was joyous and cheerful for the entirety, it was an excellent way for the group to reconnect with one another before we embarked on such a journey.
As we arrived at the airport, we rushed off of the bus; quickly unloading everything we could, the overwhelming rush of it all would certainly be way too much to handle for a lesser group. As we received our tickets and passed through security, we had many minutes of free time before boarding, so it was the perfect chance to spend our first dollars of the trip on overpriced food and drink. The flight was a wonderful mixture of cramped seating, crying babies, and excruciating pressure building up on our ears, but it was entirely worth it for the trip to come.
After some complication acquiring our luggage and the bus, we were on our way to the trips first food shop at one of Denver’s fine local Safeway’s. Once the food shop was completed, we headed to our final destination for the day; the church. After we unpacked and settled in, there was plenty of song and dance that ensued; it was a perfect way to celebrate a successful and efficient day.
While awaking, we were all ready to start our adventure to the Wolf Center. We met some amazing wolves and also howled with and at them, only to get a reply full of gossip. We headed to camp and also ate some pizza tortillas. Headed to bed and woke up and went white water rafting down the Big Horn River; the rapids were classes 2 and 3. The trip down was thrilling. And the main guide JC was humorous and still got the point across.
We went to the UFO Watchtower for one night. We climbed the sand dunes. We reached a peak at around 700′ up and stayed there for a bit. At first, Jordan and Mike stayed down a little bit away from the peak, but they made the trek and got cheered on for it. The climb was intense, rain-filled, and sand got in every nook and cranny possible on everyone. The view at the top was amazing and you could see for miles and more sand dunes than possible. The way down was a blast. A majority of group ran down and the ones who didn’t weren’t too far away from those who did.
We drove to Mesa Verde and set up camp. Then we went to the Cortez Cultural Center for our cultural experience. We watched a Native American couple dance, sing, and play an Indian flute. The performance was amazing and informative.
The day started off with Alaina getting us an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast. We did the cliff dwelling tour; our guide was amazing and the tour was very informative. After that we then did laundry and showers. Then we played King Frog in a little lot on the side of the road and did some journaling about the landscape, and went to bed.
We all piled onto the bus and headed to Utah to go to Delicate Arch in MOAB. When we got there, Will got booed off because he stood directly in everyone’s shot of the arch and took a picture himself, after that we started to hike back. We did our journal and started to hike even more. We had a few people from Michigan join us on our hike back. Jacob, Nick U, and a few other group members had some friendly conversations with our new temporary group members. We learned that they were a little jealous that we had an ocean view and were so close to the ocean and they weren’t. After our hike back we stopped in the parking lot and threw some pop-it’s around and swung some socks with a glow stick and tennis ball in it. We then journeyed to the Visitor Center and got some refills on water and learned of some terrible news, Nick CC’s glasses had gone missing and the next day we’d search the parking lot and Visitor Center.
We started our day off by getting on the bus once again to make a short trek to the parking lot at Delicate Arch to look for Nick CC’s glasses. After searching there for a while we had no success in finding them there and went to the Visitor Center. But to no avail, we didn’t find his glasses; although we all watched a short film on the arches in the national park. He was a great sport about it.
We drove to the rec. center in Aspen. We went swimming for two and half hours and had pizza and a journaled. Before that we played Big Booty and we were able to get Alaina and Robbie out of the Big Booty spot. Will hurt his head on the bus, with the low luggage things that we put everything in, it’s easy to hurt yourself. We did quotes of the day and shout outs on the way back to camp. We went to bed early so we would be awake for tomorrow’s sunrise hike.
We woke up at 3:45 FOR BOYS AND 4:00 AM FOR GIRLS to start our ascend to 12,095ft where we would start our sunrise hike up Independence Pass to the Continental Divide. The hike was exhausting, but the view at the top was worth it. We did our journal entry for the day at the top before starting the descent. On the way down, the wind picked up rapidly and out of nowhere. After the hike we went back to camp where a lot of the team went and took a nap. Then we went to downtown Aspen where we walked around and shopped for a couple of hours.
Today we volunteered at the Food Bank of the Rockies, where most of the group sorted and boxed up food that would be brought out into the warehouse. Three of us went to work in the warehouse where they weighed food that different organizations pick out and we also sorted out expired breads and goods. We boxed up almost 9,000 pounds of food which is about 6,000 meals.
Heading home today :(. We went through security with some minor delays, but the rest of the time was easy. We found our gate and some people went and got food. We had two hours to kill before we could board our flight to Kansas City. We’ve had to wait, but that’s all good because we all chatted and played around. When we got to Kanas City, what was supposed to be a one hour layover ended up being two hours because our flight was delayed by almost an hour. We finally boarded at 6:55 pm; our final fight to Logan International Airport in Boston. The flight was a little over two hours there, but fun. When we arrived at 11:00 pm, we went to do a bathroom stop before heading to the baggage claim area. We got our bags which took a long time and found Hannah with the bus waiting to bring us home. We all want to get home soon to see our family, but we stayed in the moment and positive while on the plane. We did the evaluations on the flight from Kanas City to Boston which was fine. We got in to Thomaston around 3:15 in the morning.