Friday, March 13, 2015

Project Adventure Nearing The End...

I am currently writing this post while sitting outside in a field surrounded by 300 foot Redwood trees. It has been difficult to get Internet long enough to write a post since we are camping in a dense Redwood forest. When we are not at our campsite, we are usually doing something fun outside, so we almost never have a chance to sit and write about the trip.

On Tuesday we had a great day sea kayaking on an inlet of the Pacific called Elkhorn Slough. Everyone got to experience the diverse ocean life unique to this part of the California coast. We had the chance to see sea otters, sea lions, seals, many varieties of birds, and even a sea slug. The sea slug was the highlight of the day for many people. We passed it around and it inked on us (a disgusting, memorable, and once in a lifetime experience). Our amazing guide educated us about the Slough from the animals to the history, and he even gave us a very open and honest explanation of what a guide’s life is like. We learned all about the pros and cons of what that job entails.

Wednesday was our long hike day. We got to explore deep into an old growth Redwood forest, and we learned it was the oldest in the entire country. The trees we walked amongst were 1000-2000 years old! We saw trees that were arguably the tallest trees in the world. Some trees were so wide at the base that the whole group could link arms and wouldn’t even be able to reach around it. We got to see three beautiful waterfalls. We all shared great conversations about how we could be outside in that beautiful forest as a career. The day ended with all of us sitting around a campfire bonding over sore legs and how excited we were to go mountain biking the next day.

Thursday morning we awoke with one and only one thing on our minds. What was killed at our campsite last night? It was probably thirty minutes after we had all laid down to go to sleep when we heard something small that was walking around, most likely a raccoon or squirrel. After a few moments we all heard the most gnarly animal attack you could ever imagine. Most likely something big, maybe a coyote, bobcat, or mountain lion must have been stalking this small critter and then pounced on it and ate it. I have never heard 12 people be more silent in my life. We all laid in our respective tents or tent cabins and waited until whatever big animal, which was no more than ten feet from us, had walked away with its dinner. I have spent countless nights outside camping and I’ve never heard an animal attack like this, certainly a learning experience.

The rest of Thursday was spent mountain biking in the Demo Forest. We got to ride some world-class trails high above Santa Cruz in a lush Redwood forest. These trails were made up of amazing single track which went up and down, over rocks and roots, along ridgelines and back and forth on banked turns. Sadly, Sam S. took one too many falls on her shoulder and ended up getting a separated shoulder. This turned the day into medical evac mode and through our guide, a local group doing trail maintenance, and the great Huskies we have on this group we were able to get Sam out of the forest without having her hike more than a mile. This is no small feat considering we were nine miles deep in the woods. Special thanks to Bell who was instrumental in getting a truck deep into the woods to give Sam and myself a lift to the main gate where we able to load up our larger bus with everyone and get to the ER. We got Sam all checked out and were back at the campsite in time to cook some burgers and hotdogs with a bit of daylight left.

Right now most of our Huskies are high up in the Redwood Trees around Mount Hermon Adventures. We will be going out to eat in downtown Santa Cruz tonight as a last hurrah, and then tomorrow we start our travel home. It has been an amazing trip, the students have been journaling each night about what they did that day and how they might turn their passion for adventure into a career. We have had the chance to see the full spectrum of outdoors actives, from being a photographer who goes out in the woods and takes pictures to being a company like Mount Hermon Adventures, which owns a mega-complex on what seems like a thousand acres on the top of a mountain, to everything in between. Hopefully, this great group of Huskies who have shared in these adventures all have a deeper appreciation for the outdoors and realize there are many more options in life besides working inside behind a desk. Work can be fun while at the same time rewarding for others. I think the students on this trip have seen that first hand.

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