Adventure. Invigoration. Uncertainty. All words that describe what it feels like to immerse yourself in the great outdoors. It’s human nature to explore the unknown, taking risks as we try to understand what the world is telling us. Sure, nine days with modern camping gear on established trails isn’t exactly comparable to the hardships our ancestors had to go through to get to their destinations. Still, you’re really putting yourself out there when you leave behind everything you’ve ever known to spend 200+ hours with complete strangers. However, you’ll quickly learn sometimes you just need to take a tortilla in the face after being led through a quality yoga session to make lifelong connections.
I certainly didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I left home for the last time. Driving to Walla Walla from the only town I’ve ever called my home made me uneasy, making me question my choice to come to Whitman. Traveling with my dad and little brother for what could be the last time made reality hit hard. Where am I going? Why would I cast off all that I was comfortable with to venture into the unknown? What am I doing? Well, it didn’t matter what the answers were – I was off.
After arriving in town and saying my goodbyes, I saw the friendly faces I was surrounded by and was excited to get to know everyone. Much like a first date (that’s the term we used), we awkwardly told each other about ourselves. We set off the next day, taking the scenic route through Eastern Washington. After our long ride, we entered the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and set up camp. It was a nice night since we had grown accustomed to each other.
We started our trek toward the “Best Outhouse in the PNW”, as well as Glacier Peak, in the morning. The beautiful scenery around us was new to many from other parts of the US and it was exciting to be able to share my home with those who had never seen the North Cascades. Along the way, I made it my goal to have a conversation with everyone in the group. Getting to know everyone was great since every single person had a unique story. Cooking was fun because I started to take my groups preferences into account as we made backwoods pizza. My favorite event was the late night bear hangs where we all had to lift our food between trees in the dark.
On the second day of hiking, the smoke from forest fires got to a point where it was no longer safe to continue hiking, so after gaining some serious elevation, we had to spin around and go right back down. Of course, we were all disappointed, but we made the best of it by having an hour of yoga and cooking brownies that night (on a WhisperLite?) We moved out the next morning, heading back to the cars to go to our next destination.
Being from Western Washington, it was strange to be in my backyard once again. Just a couple days before I had left for what I thought would be a long time. We ended up car camping for the next two nights just an hour south of my hometown in Deception Pass State Park, then moving to the Dungeness Spit by way of ferry. The long car rides served as a time to get to know everyone quite a bit better, as we sang road trip toons the whole way.
Despite the fact that my scramble wasn’t the experience I had imagined, it was beneficial in that it helped the transition feel natural in the most unnatural way. Regardless of how it turns out, everyone is there on their terms and they’re looking for the same thing as you: an adventure! None of the other stuff needs to be planned; it just happens naturally. Best of all, the bond you make will continue to be there as you enter the new school year while everyone is still trying to make the transition into college. Even though my time is currently consumed by many other aspects of school, it’s nice to know I could get to know a few people on the same path I was entering, even though we all came from different walks of life.
It also helps build connections with others as well, as you’ll have many stories to share with people who went on other scrambles. In fact, I don’t know what I would’ve talked to people about if I hadn’t had the experience I did. You’ll definitely be fine if you don’t go on a trip, but it is a fun way to start off your first year of college.