I Survived the Wilderness

I am back to civilization! For the past five days, I've been backpacking with Peak 7 Adventures in North Cascades National Park. Peak 7 is a non-profit based in Spokane, Washington, that specializes in amazing outdoor adventures for at-risk teens. I was fortunate to go on one of their "Ascent" trips, backcountry wilderness trips that challenge the teen participants physically, emotionally and spiritually. This trip was unique since a youth group flew in from Minnesota to go on the backpacking trip. With 3 guides, 3 adult leaders, and 6 girls, we had a blast this past week!

It's hard to put into words the magnitude of beauty I saw in the great outdoors. It was mind-boggling to look at the mountain peaks, the meadows, and dense forest, meanwhile pondering that God created it all!

In case you missed my first blog with some background about Peak 7, check it out here.

I love that Peak 7 really educates the participants about "Leave No Trace" Principles, navigation, and about other vital outdoor skills. What is "Leave No Trace?"

Leave No Trace is a set of 7 principles that center around the idea of enjoying nature, but not leaving evidence of being there.

For example, one of the principles is to "Leave What You Find." There are some mighty cool rocks, sticks, and flowers, but if everyone started hauling off natural souvenirs, there would be no nature to enjoy!

To give you the play-by-play of the week:

Monday night, I went rock climbing!

It was my first time to actually climb outside. (I usually just climb on an indoor climbing wall.)

Tuesday morning, I woke up around 4:30 AM to drive with Nicole (one of the guides for the trip) to the

Warehouse. Upon arriving at the warehouse, I got some extra gear that I needed and got my food sack for the week. Check out the picture of the warehouse with plenty of gear to lend to participants.

Around 6:00 AM, all the youth participants showed up at the warehouse to get backpacks and other gear checked out for the week. To give you an idea of what I took on the trip:

  • Gaiters (go around hiking boots to keep debris out)
  • Headlamp (very important for when you have to pee in the middle of the night!)
  • Whistle (only used when you see a bear or are in an emergency)
  • Clothes (lightweight nylon pants and shorts, polyester t-shirts, & travel undies that dry super fast)
  • Food (instant oatmeal packets, lots of granola bars, cup of noodles for dinner, and jelly beans)
  • Raingear (waterproof jacket and pants)
  • Journal (a small hand-bound journal I made for the trip)

As you can see, the key to backpacking is to pack light and only bring essential items!

After helping the girls get their gear checked out and packed into their backpacks, we loaded up and drove about 4.5 hours to North Cascades National Park.

The drive was incredibly scenic and offered all of us the chance to sneak in a last nap before a full week of hiking.

About 4 hours into the drive, we stopped at the Ranger station to pick up a permit that allowed us to camp in the area. Then the rain came...

When I say rain, I mean LOTS OF RAIN!

We arrived at the trail-head and knew we were in for quite the adventure. The 12 of us girls sloshed through 3.5 miles of muddy trails and rain pouring down and finally made it to our camp, Fireweed Campsite. On that first night, everyone was worn out from the drive, the cold rain, and the hike, and ready to get to bed pronto! Before we could sleep though, we had to set up 3 tents.

After setting up camp, it was time to get some dinner! For dinner, each girl had 2 packages of cup of noodles in her food sack.

Honestly, I was pretty darn miserable the first night since I was soaked, (despite wearing a new waterproof jacket) cold, and hungry.

The trip guides went to the closest stream to get water to boil for the noodles and set up the mini-stoves. After what seemed like an eternity of waiting for boiling water, it finally boiled. The girls were troopers in spite of horrible weather and didn't complain too much about our simple dinner.

After dinner, everyone ducked into their tents for the night as the rain continued to come down.

I could seriously write so much about this trip, but will split it up between multiple blog posts. I am flying home today from Spokane, but will post again with more details, pictures, and even a video!


Kieley Best

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