Outdoor Stewardship Takes Students to the White Mountains

Six students from the Outdoor Stewardship program completed a challenging, three-day field trip to Mount Washington in November. They were accompanied by Rebecca Leclerc, Director of Outdoor Programs, and Christopher Bernard, Co-Director of College Counseling, who have led Outdoor Stewardship, a co-curricular program offered during the fall term, for the past two years.
 

Faculty and students, including Andrew Byrne-King ’19, Noel Dalton ’23,  Simon Rhodes ’22, Ahmed Salman ’21, Benjamin Zeng ’22 and Eric Zhang ’22, left campus on November 3 and arrived at the Highland Center in Crawford Notch, New Hampshire, that afternoon. The next morning, the Highlanders awoke to find their surroundings had changed a bit.  “It snowed the night before, and the temperatures on the summit ridge had been below freezing for a couple of weeks, making for an icy landscape that we used microspikes and sturdy boots to ascend,” Leclerc said. “We carried our lunches, ample water, and headlamps, in addition to our emergency supplies, which included a tent, water purification and medical kits, plus layers for the cold.”

On November 4, they spent all day hiking, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. “We hiked the Ammonoosuc Ravine up Mount Washington to the Lakes of the Clouds Hut, then across the ridge to the summit of Mount Washington, before descending the Jewell Trail on the backside of Mount Clay,” said Leclerc, who estimated the group covered approximately 10 miles over the course of the day.

“We ate our lunch outside of the hut, and got to watch a helicopter working for the AMC shuttle waste and fuel canisters down to the valley. Aside from the helicopter crew, we did not see any other people on Mount Washington the whole day,” she said.

The weather and conditions are unpredictable at this time of year, but Leclerc said both were good for the majority of the hike. “We had gorgeous weather until the last half mile to the summit. Then everything clouded over and we hiked in a cold, windy cloud for the rest of the day. It was incredible how quickly things changed.”

The group carefully navigated icy trails and strong winds as they descended the summit, and due to the time change, they hiked the last half hour in complete darkness. “With our headlamps and flashlights we made it back to the bus safely. We returned to the Highland Center just in time for supper,” Leclerc said.

The field trip allowed students to experience different terrain than they had encountered earlier in the term, on day hikes to Steep Rock in Washington, White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield, the Roxbury Land Trust’s holdings and Mohawk Mountain in Cornwall.

“This was an outstanding culmination to our fall season of Outdoor Stewardship,” Leclerc said. “This is a strenuous hike, one that takes tremendous effort and trust, and our group was outstanding. These students supported each other and worked together to achieve this great feat!”