It was dusk, we were heading East on the Kancamagus Highway. The Hairpin Turn was behind us now and we were descending from the higher elevations. We were somewhere between the Bear Notch Road and Falls Pond when it happened… we couldn't have planned it any better. A Moose! Urban Trekkers went wild. It was day two into our Mount Washington expedition and we had been on the road for about 5 hours, traveling north from Plymouth, MA. The area where we sighted the moose had high probability for a sighting, the habitat was just right. The north side of the two lane wilderness highway was low wetland, ponds, while the south side was a gradual climb into the Boreal Forrest. Yep! We were in Moose Country. I had kidded the students about calling ahead to the Park Ranger and placing an order for a moose sighting at the location and time of our passing. Some of the students kidded about it being mechanical.
After many months and much planning the Mount Washington Expedition was a reality. We traveled during the students' Spring Break, spending five nights and six days in New England. We balanced the trip with a mix of history, science and outdoor adventure. The reward of time spent in community with each other, traveling, and eating meals is not easy to measure - but you sense its awesome value.
We began our journey with a visit to the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center in Mashantucket, CT. We became part of the history by role playing the parts of the warring parties and reenacting the history of the 1637 Pequot and English conflict. Next we traveled to Plymouth, MA visiting the historic sites of Plymouth and the Plimoth Plantation. We were getting a very balanced look at early American history. Our final day provided us a visit of Old Sturbridge Village, a re-creation of an 1830 New England village.
Our trip was made affordable by the churches that opened their doors to us. We were hosted our first night by the wonderful people of the First Baptist Church of Plymouth, MA. Our friends, Jeff & Judy Jones, along w/ members from FBC, prepared a dinner feast, breakfast, and tours of Plymouth. On the return side of our trip, The Federated Church of Sturbridge and Fiskdale graciously provided space for us to sleep.
The highlight of the expedition and the key to its' success was our partnership with the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC). The Youth Opportunity Program of the AMC provided us with equipment, clothing, and hiking boots for all Urban Trekkers - along with two highly qualified teachers for our Mountain Classroom program. The program consisted of outdoor hiking through some challenging terrain with the incredible vistas of the White Mountains. The students were taught basic skills in the use of a compass. We also had instruction on the skins and bones of the animals found in this mountain region.
It was our final night of the trip; we had covered a lot of territory physically and mentally. We were spread out on the carpeted floor at The Federated Church in Sturbridge, MA. I was looking forward to hearing from the students and to start reflecting on what we had experienced together. After some prodding the conversation started. Several students shared that the mountains had exceeded their expectations. They had surprised themselves in how much they were able to accomplish physically. All were grateful we had beautiful weather during our trek. One Trekker said it was the first time they ever climbed a mountain, they were happy to have the chance to prove they could, and it was probably the last mountain they would ever climb! For some the experience was being together and sharing with one another. Till next time…