A Hike to Remember

I waited in anticipation for our excursion to begin, my backpack hefty but lifted by my group's fun spirit. We had taken classes for weeks to prepare for our weekend of camping, and it was finally time to set off. I took a minute to snack on a PowerBar before we left. I felt giddy and excited. I watched as everyone prepared their packs and I mimicked their actions. A snapshot on a disposable Kodak and we were off.

This was my first wilderness trip as a student at Arrowhead School. Our destination was Knox Lake, high in the Absaroka Mountains north of Jardine. Seeing Knox Lake for the first time is my favorite memory of the trip. The water dazzled like a fountain of blue and green gems, and the sun shone on it so that it seemed as though it were inviting us. I felt free and welcome. When group two arrived, my group was already exploring the lake and we pointed out places to camp, cook dinner, or hang food bags to keep the bears away. As it turned out, we were camping on the other side of the lake, where if you were in the right position, you could see the whole picture: mountains, lake, wildlife.

At the time I only thought of it as a fun outing with my fellow classmates, but now I know that I won't ever forget some of the skills our generation seems to have lost. We no longer possess the basic survival skills that were so important to the Native Americans. They bathed in icy rivers, made every belonging they owned, and worked for everything they had. A basic teenager today will complain about chores, but I don't think he or she would be quite so rebellious if it were 200 years ago.

The trip also helped me build character and learn to show strength (which was hard to do when a branch followed my food bag down to the top of my head). I remember the biting cold and the lessons I learned from dealing with it. I will admit that it is not easy to light a fire with matches and damp pine needles, but I know that it would take me a tenth of the time to light it now than before the trip. That's why living in Montana is so amazing. Our openness and closeness to nature allows for so many school activities that some only get a chance to do on vacation. We go on snowboarding and ski trips, have science classes outdoors, and blaze our own trails. Our learning environment makes us who we are, and at Arrowhead School, ours is nature.

I often find myself thinking back on the Knox Lake trip and remembering the fun I found in that educational experience. I think of the friendships I made, the things I'd never seen before, and knowing that it was an experience I wouldn't regret or forget. It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing for most. I understand that anything can be special, and everything can be appreciated. And in Montana, everything is a gift.