By: Natalie, Junior, Vermont
As all sixteen girls jumped of "Big Blue", the excitement was evident among the sea of quick-dry shirts and backpacks stuffed to the top. With boots tied and waist belts tightened, the girls of TTS22 set off to the Tsitsikamma Mountain range for a three-day backpacking trip.
The walk to the first of two huts, where the girls would be staying the night, was a quick five kilometers through the dense fynbos biome of the region. Upon arrival, girls raced into the hut to claim a spot on one of the triple decker bunk beds. The hut was quickly deemed "the perfect place for 'tent talk'" (AKA: bonding) by Sarah. After getting settled, the girls went for a swim in Tsitsikamma's "pool", or river, which was discovered to double as a water tap. Everyone learned to purify water whether it was with a Steri Pen, water pump, or Aquamira. Confidence in this activity quickly grew; however, some girls still insisted on using all three types of purification. "A triple check never hurts," stated Megan after enjoying a sip of fresh and clean water.
As the day came to a close, preparation for dinner kicked into full swing. After fire building, chopping, and cheese grating, delicious macaroni and cheese was enjoyed. Now, with just enough carbs to power the next day's 14 kilometer trek, the first day of backpacking came to a conclusion, only to be interrupted by a massive spider. As fearless leader, Brenna, ran into the girls' hut clinging to her sleeping bag, the girls jumped to the top level bunks in hopes of reaching safety. After much dispute, a spider capturing plan was assembled by Eleanor, the heroine of the night. Following a safe release of the spider and one or two last spider scans, the girls finally closed their eyes and went to sleep as the long day of hiking awaited.
Tsitsikamma and the Outdoor Diva
By: Eleanor, Sophomore, California
Tired and hungry, Peri marched through spiky thicket and climbed over rotting logs, huge ferns arching over her head. She was unsure whether she was beating her way towards the refuge of the cabin she'd walked 14 kilometers to reach, or if every step was in the wrong direction and was one she'd have to retrace.
We started our morning next to a merrily crackling fire with scrumptious oatmeal warming our stomachs. Our group buzzed with anticipation for the longest trek of our three-day journey. We hiked through lush green valleys, pausing occasionally to take a drink and dip our water bottles into the glowing, iron-tinted streams of the Tsitsikamma. We conquered a never-ending steep ravine that finally bore the fruit of a breathtaking view at the top. It seemed the whole world lay at our feet, with us cradled by mountain peaks. It was only in the last slog of our march, as everyone separated for a solo hike, that one of our crew fell prey to a hapless mistake.
Peri doesn't like solo hikes. She says "talking motivates you up those steep hills". So as everyone started to drift apart she chose to stay with the pack at the front that was sticking together. Unfortunately, this pack was going at a fast clip and wouldn't pause for her to take pictures. Soon it was just her and her camera.
A sign read only two more kilometers to the cabin, so Peri pushed on. And on. And on. What had once been a well worn path turned into a thread Peri had to bushwack to follow. Her pulse quickened and she looked around her in that paralyzing fear one gets when she is lost. She sat down and decided to wait for the next person to catch up. Fifteen minutes passed and Peri scrutinized her surroundings more closely. In the mud ahead of her she saw no familiar stampede of footprints, so she began to backtrack. She anxiously searched for where she went wrong and eventually found a diverging path she had missed before. Peri trudged up the path and finally she arrived to the welcoming congratulations and smiles of the rest of the girls. "I almost started crying because I was so happy that I'd found my way back. I realized I could solve any problems that nature threw at me." Peri says, "People call me a diva, but now I'm the outdoor diva."