Students left White Mountain on Orientation Trips on Monday, September 1 for three-day adventures all over Northern New Hampshire. They took to the woods, waterways and rock faces for three days, returning for Sign The Book on the evening of Wednesday, September 4. All went well on the trips despite the challenging weather. Their energy was palpable – they returned with stories of triumph through evening thunderstorms, reaching the top of their very first rock climb, or taking on a Class II rapid in a kayak despite their fear of fast-moving water. What a way to begin the year!
Orientation serves as a way to introduce students to The White Mountain School experience, making new friends in the process. The program inspires growth, team-building and working towards a common goal within a small community environment. We value the opportunity Orientation Trips provide for students to challenge themselves and each other to reach their goals and create new ones as they approach the first day of classes.
Gabriel Kiritz, who joined the White Mountain staff Summer 2019 as Director of Outdoor Education, shared, “Field expeditions have shown me the power, beauty, and challenges of living thoughtfully and compassionately within a small, intentional community.” He did a great job organizing the 12 trips including:
Backpacking – Backpacking trips in White Mountain National Forest explored a beautiful section of the Appalachian Trail. The two groups traveled in opposite directions on a section of trail between the Zealand Trailhead and the Ethan Pond Trailhead. Trip highlights included breathtaking views from Zeacliff Outlook and Zealand Valley and pristine mountain lakes.
Canoeing – Two groups explored Umbagog Lake, a remote body of water straddling the Maine-New Hampshire state line. Three days were spent paddling on the lake, exploring coves and islands hoping to sight moose, otter, great blue herons and bald eagles. The 34 isolated campsites around Umbagog Lake are accessible only by boat.
Community Service – This group focused on giving back to our local community through various service projects. They worked on trail maintenance with the Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust while camping in Franconia. They spent time with the Boys and Girls Club helping with their after school program and staffed a golf tournament with New England Disabled Sports.
Day Hiking – Pinkham Notch was one of three destinations. The base camp offered access to various hiking trails. The other groups explored hiking trails in Franconia Notch and Waterville Valley including two treeless summits – despite the relatively low elevations – or to one of many waterfalls.
Rock Climbing – Known as the “Granite State”, New Hampshire has a large number of beautiful, climbable cliffs of all sizes. The White Mountain School is situated in one of the most famous locations for rock climbing in the United States, including the climbing mecca of North Conway and the famous Rumney Rocks and Echo Crag in Franconia Notch. Even previous non-climbers can learn the basics of knot tying, belaying and climbing in a safe, fun environment. More experienced climbers had the opportunity to challenge themselves.
Whitewater Kayaking – The Moore Reservoir served as a venue for practicing basic skills before heading to sections of the Androscoggin River, including the Errol rapids.
Mountain Biking – Riders went to the Kingdom Trails network in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom to ride an excellent series of trails that offer a wide variety of mountain biking experiences, from high-speed double track trails to twisted, obstacle-filled single track. Situated on one of the more picturesque hills in Vermont, these trails wind through a wooded and pastoral setting. This system has trails for all levels of abilities, whether it’s the old farm roads and Nordic Trails for beginners; or tight, fast, flowing, singletrack for riders of all abilities.