On July 2, five Caldera high school students from Central Oregon left for a backpacking adventure with Big City Mountaineers. Big City Mountaineers (BCM) is an organization that partners with non-profits that serve youth in order to provide a unique opportunity to experience backpacking. BCM guides the trip, outfits the youth with the necessary gear, and so that youth have some continuity during and after the experience invites staff from the partner non-profit to attend the trip.
The group was all female and included five youth, two Caldera staff from Central Oregon (Amy Burtelow, Youth Mentor and Jessica Armstrong, High School Mentor), two adult volunteer staff through BCM, and the BCM trip leader. With a staff to youth ratio of 1:1 there were plenty of opportunities to mentor the Caldera youth, share stories, and teach the basics of backpacking and wilderness travel.
On the morning of July 3rd, in the thick of a downpour of rain, the group headed into the forest for what turned out to be an incredibly rewarding adventure. The weather shifted after the first day, and they continued on to travel a total of 26 miles over the 5 days, graced by sunshine, gorgeous mountain views, scenic river crossings, and great new friendships. The “challenge day” hike consisted of gaining 2500 feet of elevation over three miles up to a mountain pass. Many learned to travel on alpine snow fields for the first time. Although there were some doubts, everyone reached the goal and was rewarded with panoramic views of the Olympic Mountains and the powerful experience of achieving success despite great challenge.
Everyone agreed that the trip was about as perfect as it could possibly be. With a great group of positive and fun youth, an experienced and fun staff team, and a “just right” combination of rain, snow, and challenge combined with gorgeous weather, teamwork, and triumph made it a memorable experience for all who participated.