From snow to rain and cold, the Mountain Classroom group has been up to a flurry of eventful activities. Starting in the farmlands of Huntington, Vermont, the group stayed in a very pretty heated barn allowing us to settle into the frontcountry, and start our work with Penny Huett, our black ash basket instructor.
The hefty task of pounding black ash logs was the first step in our creation of the baskets themselves. Using mallets and knives we made the yearly growth rings peel up, stripping off the wood in perfect weaving strips that would be later used for our baskets. The long task of working with Penny Huett concluded after 3 days of work finishing our baskets.
After a very successful trip to Burlington, and enjoying a nice town day and lecture from Professor Mariaka of UVM, the group started to familiarize ourselves with the backcountry gear for our trip on Camel’s Hump. The group made our way on the bus to Camel’s Hump, the second part of our trip. The first day was fully uphill making our way to Bamford Ridge Hut, the first campsite. Due to foundation issues, the shelter was closed and we made our way to the tent platforms and set up our campsite. Personally, my favorite part of the mini-term was the last day of Camel’s Hump where we had decided to explore instead of making a full push for the summit. We enjoyed thick snow, and a fun full day of walking around high up in the mountains. After making our way back to the campsite and enjoying a fire, we made our way down, and drove to Caleb’s childhood home in Ryegate, Vermont.
The group arrived at Caleb's farm, and were tired and burnt out from our three day expedition up Camel’s Hump. Upon our arrival we met Caleb’s sister’s cute Australian Shepherd Jiggit and moved into his unheated barn. Our first full day on the farm we went on a grocery run and prepared for our upcoming week, we also got a surprise pizza dinner from our instructors. On the 9th we did a day hike of Spruce Mountain where we had our first tree quiz. When we got back from our day hike we did our forty-five minute naturalist journal sit in the woods. This entailed all of us going out into the woods on our own and finding a spot to be alone. We took our journals and took notes about the nature surrounding us. Personally, I decided to observe a small deer field a quarter of a mile west of the barn. I decided to complete my naturalist journal during sunset. While I did not see any wildlife, it was a fabulous time to reflect, reset and have some peace and solitude after a long day of hiking. We had a delicious dinner that night of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup cooked up by Zoie and Brooke.
The next few days were filled with rain and unfortunate weather. We were lucky enough to find shelter in Caleb’s warm childhood home to complete many classes and academic work. We drank tea and played with his friendly cat in the coziness of his home in between classes. Once the rain cleared, we were packing up to leave Caleb’s barn and head to our basket making instructor, Penny Huett’s, property. On the way to her property, where we would be staying in her lovely, heated barn, we stopped at Owl’s Head mountain for a quick, sunny, beautiful hike. On the way to the summit, we had another tree quiz. At the top of the summit, we learned from Caleb about compass declination. We had another tree quiz and then headed back down to the van. We made it safe and sound to Penny’s barn with the need of some pushing of the van by all of the students when it would not get through the snow. The next day we went on another great, longer hike up Pisgah mountain with lots of great views. Specifically, it overlooked Willoughby Lake which is the deepest lake in Vermont and was carved out by a glacier.
That evening, we were blessed by the arrival of Patty Pond and Annie Mackenzie. We had a delicious dinner all together, enjoyed some glacier history reenactment presentations and finished up the night with a nice evening meeting sharing appreciations of one another while sipping hot chocolate and laughing about some good times shared. The days ahead wrapping up what we have been calling “mini term” entails finishing all of our academic work due before our departure for break, packing up our belongings, cooking good meals for each other and finding fun along the way. On our last full day, some of us decided to build a quinzhee with Caleb. This resembles an igloo in the snow, except instead of blocks to build the foundation, it is packed snow and dug out inside.
We will have a very early wakeup tomorrow morning, and we will head back to home base, Andover, NH to then head home for a few weeks of break. It has been an exciting, challenging, and engaging past few weeks here in Vermont. We are all grateful for the lessons learned through the cold, and are eager for the second portion of winter term out West.
- Environmental Stewardship
- Mountain Classroom
- Off-Campus Program