From Chicago to Colorado

September 27, 2009
Hiking through the mountains of Colorado was never my plan for an ideal summer. I wanted to take courses at Yale University and experience life as an Ivy Leaguer. I abruptly opted out of New Haven and decided to explore the great outdoors of the American West with an adventure program. Before I knew it, Chicago and my comfort zone were being left behind and replaced with mountains and sand dunes.
On the morning of a June 27, 2008 I was greeted by a burst of sunshine. “Mom, five more minutes!” I got up slowly and it suddenly dawned on me. I was not in Chicago anymore. I was in a tent in the middle of nowhere in Colorado. I was going to have to get used to the new accommodations of my tent and my three tent mates. I tiredly grabbed my clothes and hid behind a large bush to change.
It was soon time to introduce ourselves to everyone at camp. Cue the cheesy camp song. Haley, Brian, Inigo. Jessica. Mary. Neal. Abby. Erick. Matt. Everyone seemed pretty friendly, but why didn’t I feel any more comfortable? Everything seemed foreign to me. I was starting to regret not having chosen a dorm at Yale.
After a quick breakfast comprised of stale bagels and granola bars, we made our way to the Great Sand Dunes. “Think of it as the Egyptian capital of Colorado,” said my troop leader. Egypt in Colorado? Now things were really starting to become foreign. When we arrived, we were greeted by sand, endless amount of sand. Brief thoughts of being sucked into a pool of quicksand and being eaten by sand monsters came before me. Perhaps my fears were unmerited, but they only increased when my camp leader told us what we were going to be doing for the day. “Today,” the camp leader proclaimed, “we are going to climb to the top of the Dunes.”
Three hours later, I was huffing and puffing. I had made it to the top. I felt like the Rocky Balboa of mountain climbing. Suddenly, the trip seemed worth it.
The next two weeks flew by. I encountered challenges that tested my survival skills, but I pushed through each and every one of them. The rough current did not stop me from rafting through ninety miles of the Green River. Slippery slopes could not keep me away from the peak of Mount Harvard. I had somehow developed a new sense of resilience and determination that was not inherent within me. I was glad I had steered away from the road traveled by hundreds of teens wishing to impress college admissions representatives.
Yale was no much for nature. As Robert Frost once said, “Two Roads Diverged in a wood, and I- I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference.” I have a greater appreciation for my abilities and I have discovered the wonders of the western United States.





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