Snow-capped mountains
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a selfie of Kalina in a canoe

I know when considering a college, students should look at a lot of things, not just location and physical landmarks. However, back then, when I was deciding to apply Early Decision to Dartmouth, the proximity of the White Mountains, the vast New Hampshire forests, and the Connecticut River played a significant role in my final decision.

I knew I wanted to go to a school where people were excited about the outdoors, a school with a special connection to nature. The Dartmouth Outing Club, about which I've written many blog posts, made Dartmouth exactly such a school: it is a club dedicated to hiking, cabin and tent camping, canoeing and kayaking, climbing and many other activities.

Before going to Dartmouth, I had my fair share of hiking experience–that's why the proximity of the White Mountain, the Appalachian Trail, and the woods was so important to me. But I also loved the fact that for the first time in my life, I was going to be living near a big river (I've never before lived near a big body of water) that could allow me to master a new skill or two and more specifically, that would allow me to experience nature from a new perspective. The Connecticut River, I knew, would allow me to see the world from the close-to-the-water viewpoint of a canoe.

So the months before actually going to Dartmouth, I used to fantasize about going down to the river to paddle. Once I got to campus, though, it took me three quarters–Fall, Winter, and Spring–to actually do more than simply walk down to the Connecticut River and look at the sunset from the bridge connecting New Hampshire and Vermont. Why did it take me so long to get on a boat in the Connecticut? I didn't really know how all of this (taking out a boat, getting a life vest, etc.) worked, so I had to wait until a trip leader ran a trip on the River.

a picture of ada in a canoe, looking through some binoculars
Ada, looking at some bird

The trip leader who finally made my dream of making short paddling trips on the river a part of my day-to-day come true was Ada '24, who is a leader in both Ledyard Canoe Club and the Flora and Fauna club.

Early one Friday morning, Ada, I, and around ten other people walked down to the river across the sleeping campus and got out several canoes on the river, ready to do some paddling and birding. We paddled for around two hours before it was time for some of us to go to classes (I had a Ten, which means that I had class starting at 10:10 am). We saw many birds, from American redstarts to yellow warbles, and Ada's co-leader even found a giant snapping turtle.

a picture of a snapping turtle
The snapping turtle

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