Longtrail 100 BlogBy Steve Zind
My husband teachers a class at Green Mountain Union High School called "Wilderness Adventures". For a final project, students need to spend a night out in the wilderness. To help students have access to the wilderness, we lead trips on the Long Trail. We ran two trips in October, one in January, and another this past June.
The summer trip is the longest trip that students can go on. We spent 6 days on the Long Trail, starting out on an overcast day at Middlebury Gap and finished 45 miles later with a windy and rainy summit of Camel’s Hump at 4,083 feet. Along the way we ask the kids to take on leadership roles, make group decisions, problem solve difficult situations, and think about the kind of person they want to be. It's a tough section of the trail, climbing three of the five mountains over 4,000 feet in Vermont. But the students were ready to face the challenges and determined to make it.
As experienced backpackers, the pleasure for my husband and I comes when we watch the students go from being so focused on their cell phones and video games to just walking through the woods. It seems like it would be boring, but the kids learn to keep going and amuse each other with games, songs, and stories. They are amazing, strong people and we often don't get to see that side of our kids. It also lets us have a new kind of relationship with those students. I feel like they get to really know us as people and not just teachers. Living and teaching in Vermont has allowed us as a family to stay connected to the wilderness, but also has allowed us to share the joy of being in the woods with our students. We look forward to more Long Trail trips in the future.
VPR is marking the 100th anniversary of The Long Trail with a month-long series of reports and essays. Through this series, we'll explore the history and future of The Long Trail and introduce listeners to the people who built, maintain and hike it today.