WMS students spent their first days back to school outdoors, exploring the great mountains, lakes, and forests of New Hampshire. Here are their journeys.
“Orientation, by definition, is simple: it gives students the tools to be successful at WMS. The result after three days in intimate groups sharing a common experience is far more complex. It often is suggested that what happens on Orientation is “magic.” What I think is that this model breaks the ice quickly and keeps diving down to the base of the iceberg where students are able to be themselves and learn to accept and understand others while at the same time working together towards a common goal.”
— Ted Teegarden, Director of Outdoor Education
On September 3rd 2012, the students of WMS embarked on an incredible three-day journey into the surrounding area to learn more about themselves, their School and each other. Or, more accurately, they embarked on nine journeys of varying types and difficulty levels during WMS’s annual Orientation Trip. The goal, as always, was to introduce our students to the WMS community, to encourage them to form bonds, learn new skills, step outside their comfort zones, and above all, have fun! Trips included:
Day Hiking: Pinkham Notch
This trip was designed for beginning hikers interested in exploring the mountains of and around Pinkham Notch. Using the Dolly Cop Campground as a base camp, this group carried only day packs on each of their hikes. The first day took them on a moderate hike to Lost Pond and Glen Ellis Falls. On day two, they hiked up to Hermit Lake Shelter and into Tuckerman Ravine. The final day concluded with a brief hike up to Square Ledge.
Day Hiking: Franconia Notch
Another trip for beginning hikers, this one took our students on an exploration of the mountains of Franconia Notch. Using the Lafayette Campground as a base camp and, again, carrying only day packs, this group got to experience three unique hikes. The first day focused on a moderate hike to Lonesome Lake via Lonesome Lake trail. The second day, they hiked to the summit of Mt Lafayette. The journey concluded with a shorter hike on the Bald Knob loop.
Rock Climbing: North Conway
On this trip, students learned how to climb on some of the most sought after climbing areas in the Northeast. All experience levels were welcome. A new climber could learn the basics of knot tying, belaying and climbing in a safe, fun environment. More experienced climbers had the opportunity to push themselves and rekindle their climbing spirit.
Rock Climbing: Franconia Notch
This trip took our students to Franconia Notch, where they began by rappelling off a bridge and went on to learn how to climb up sheer rock walls. Again, all experience levels were welcome on this trip, and our beginning climbers gained valuable new skills to lay the foundation for future rock climbing adventures, while more advanced climbers took the chance to really push their limits further than ever before.
Paddling: Lake Umbagog
This trip, designed for beginner to intermediate paddlers, took two groups on an exploration of the Androscoggin River and Lake Umbagog straddling the Maine/New Hampshire border. These groups spent three days paddling from one end of the lake to the other. One group began in Errol, navigating the Androscoggin and pouring out into the lake, while the other group began at a boat launch site on Sargent Cove, eventually meeting in the middle. These groups spent the three day journey exploring the coves and islands of the lake, sighting loons, great blue herons, bald eagles, and even a few moose.
Backpacking: Mount Washington
This trip was designed for students who are interested in backpacking and want to experience one of the outstanding summits of the White Mountains, Mount Washington. Students began with a 2-mile hike up to the base camp at the Hermit Lake Shelters near Tuckerman’s Ravine. This relatively low mileage day allowed the group to enjoy the spectacular northern forest and gave them the time to discuss and practice the skills needed to be in the wilderness. During the second day, they switched to daypacks and hiked up above The Ravine to enjoy the spectacular views. Rain and cloud prevented them from reaching the summit, but at a mere .4 miles from their destination, the group was still filled with a sense of accomplishment. On the third day, the group hiked over the other side of The Ravine to Boot Spur for more wonderful views.
Backpacking: Mount Cabot
This trip guided a group of backpackers to Mount Cabot where they experienced the beautiful White Mountain National Forest. The forest itself consists of 796,000 acres in the states of Maine and New Hampshire. They explored a beautiful section of this northern forest in the Pilot Range known locally as “the Kilkenny.” The first day’s hike started at York Pond Road on the Unknown Pond trail. This forested trail took the group up into the Kilkenny to a campsite at the Unknown Pond tentsite. The second day, the students carried only day packs as they explored the area’s summits, including a summit climb up Mount Cabot and magnificent views from the rocky Horn. The third day, they broke camp and returned to the trailhead rejuvenated from their time in the backcountry.
Whitewater Kayaking: Errol
The Androscoggin and Magalloway Rivers served as one group’s entertainment for three days of whitewater fun. They began with a day of developing basic skills on Moore Reservoir and progressed from there to the Errol Section of the Androscoggin River. The final day was spent on another section of the Androscoggin, further exploring the area. The base camp for this trip was the Northern Waters campground, at riverside on the Errol rapids.
Mountain Biking: Burke Mountain
Our group of mountain bikers headed off to the Kingdom Trails network in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom to ride an excellent series of trails. These trails offered a wide variety of mountain biking experiences, from high speed double track trails to twisted, obstacle-filled single track. Three days of mountain biking can certainly be very challenging, but the variety of terrain options available to this group made this trip nearly sane, even for hardy beginners who don’t mind a challenge. And nope, it wasn’t all flat.
Students returned from their journeys tired and grimy, but also refreshed, full of energy, and ready to take on a whole new year at WMS together.
For a fantastic collection of pictures taken of and by our students while on Orientation, check out our Picasa site here.