Fall Journey Into the Backcountry
For the 2010 High School Journey, teams of the high school students ventured into the Teton wilderness. The experience was filled with academic work, community bonding and review of backcountry skills. For the trip we split up in to three groups. The first group, Pikaberry, went into Grand Teton National Park and climbed up Paintbrush Canyon, over Paintbrush Divide and out Cascade Canyon. The second group, The Yetis, climbed up Teton Canyon, eventually reaching Alaska Basin. This trip included an early morning summit of Static Peak by a handful of the team members. The final group, Team Rainbow, walked up Game Creek working their way over Game Creek Pass and out through Moose Creek. We worked in our pods to survive for 4 nights in the backcountry. We shared the tasks of cooking, setting up camp, and navigation. Students took turned acting as pod leaders, setting the pace for the day, following topography maps and keeping the spirits of the team positive and moving forward. We created strong communities that allowed us to function efficiently while in the backcountry.
We also had several academic focuses throughout the trip. We were all required to bring a journal and throughout the trip we were provided with journal prompts from each of our academic classes. These included writing Haiku poems in Spanish, journaling about various flora and fauna that we observed for Biology, or exploring the nature of a “true history” for history class. Another academic component was to teach a mini-lesson while in the backcountry. These lessons were planned before we left and had to talk about something relevant to the place we were going to be. Some examples of lessons included, The Formation of the Tetons, Surviving off the Land, Invasive Species and Mountain Men of the Tetons. Finally we had evening discussions every night where we talked about our individual strengths and weaknesses and how we can help to build a stronger High School community.
One of the biggest challenges of the trip occurred on our last day when a much stronger than expected storm moved through the valley. Due to our location and elevation gain, what the valley received as rain we got as snow! The storm lasted from the afternoon of our last day all the way until we reached the van on Friday. Some groups got up to a foot and a half of snow. However, even though everybody was thoroughly soaked and completely cold, no one complained and the spirits of every group remained high. We survived blisters, heavy packs, aching shoulders and 25+ miles of serious hiking…including a ton of uphill! Despite all of this, any high school student will tell you that the fall journey was a definite success!
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