Trips: the good, the bad, and the ugly
When I first heard about the tradition of First Year Trips - where Dartmouth sends a bunch of freshmen out into the woods to do a variety of outdoor activities together before anyone has even met before - I was very intimidated. I am from Florida (aka the flattest state ever), so I had exactly zero experience with mountains, hiking, camping, etc. I resorted to picking what looked like the least difficult trip (Hike & Yoga) because it was cabin camping, so how bad could it be, right? But alas, I was put onto Hike & Climb, which involved significantly more hiking, outdoor camping, and (obviously) a climbing component.
On the very first day of trips (and my very first day on the Dartmouth campus), I was late because a hurricane in Florida had delayed all of the outgoing flights. When I finally showed up, all the groups had already met each other and were scattered in clusters around the Green and Collis. Thankfully, I had two of the very best trip leaders known to man (as I'm sure every trippee thinks of their leaders, too, but mine really are). They made me feel super comfortable right away and helped me get settled so I could meet my other trippees.
The next morning we headed out on our adventure. It was a rude awakening for me - an eight mile hike when you've literally never been on a mountain before is a little jarring. The group moved me to the front, which at first seemed like a compliment, but one of my trippees informed me that the slowest hiker goes in front so that everyone else doesn't have to keep stopping to check/make sure they are alive. Yikes. I also made the mistake of wearing almost brand-new hiking boots. If there is any valuable advice I have for you, it's to break in your hiking boots THOROUGHLY before you even come in sight of a mountain.
When we finally reached our campsite, I was exhausted and riddled with blisters. Luckily, by this point, the worst was over. The next two days were just climbing, which I had done a bit of indoors, and we spent the nights eating camp food and playing get-to-know-you games as a group. It sounds cheesy now, but when you're in the middle of the woods with a bunch of strangers, it's pretty fun. I'm still grateful for the time I got to spend learning more about these random, awesome people who just happened to be assigned to trek through nature with me.
The three days of trips went by faster than I ever would've expected. Getting back to campus was surreal, like I was starting a whole new life, and in a way, I was. But even through the biggest transition in my life, I had my trippees to lean on. That one trippee that told me I was slow? He's now my very best friend. I'd say all the blisters were worth it.