The trip leader, Cass, wanted to find a view of fall, with the trees in their splendid orange and red and yellow colors spread on the slopes of the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Robbie wanted to find a waterfall. I think we all wanted a break from the college bubble, away from work and classes, clubs and e-mails, to just get outside for a bit and enjoy the world.
Of the six people in the hiking group that Saturday, I was the only student from Brandeis: the other five were students from Tufts. The night before, we had all gathered in the Tufts Loj, a lodge that serves as a base camp for Tufts’ outdoor activities in Woodstock, New Hampshire. Six students from Brandeis came, as well as students from colleges across New England, including Skidmore, Brown and MIT. Trip leaders stood around with maps of their proposed routes trying to talk people into coming on their hikes.
The event was called “Save PRRR: A Choose Your Own Adventure Weekend at the Loj.” Since 2006, Tufts had held an intercollegiate race through the White Mountains around this time of year, but this year they were not able to get permits for the race, so instead they advertised an event for the weekend of Oct. 9, where students from different colleges “who like doing badass things in the outdoors” could hang out for a weekend and do just that.
That friday night, two Brandeis students slept outside the lodge with me in a tent we got from the Brandeis Mountain Club. The next day, I climbed Sandwich Mountain with my hiking group and we reached two peaks, Jennings Peak and Sandwich Dome. We ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and energy bars and took in the view, and started moving again when we got cold. Afterwards, we went to the cardboard canoe race and I’m proud to say the people from my group helped build the winning boat.
Afterwards, we ate chili with rice and played games in the lodge. Later that night, I returned to Brandeis with the students I went there with, a few energy bars lighter but with some new friends and a ton of photos to put on Facebook, and with the knowledge that amidst the small mountains of e-mails and readings I had to respond to, I had also managed to climb a 4,000-foot mountain.
(And yes, we found a waterfall and Cass found the view of fall that she had been looking for. And if you want to be technical, Sandwich Mountain is only 3,993 feet tall, but we can just keep that between us.)