My Trail Experince

February 23, 2012
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“Trail, trail, trail,” I was blaring, “Trail, trail, trail”. You’re probably wondering why? If you haven’t been to camp in Boulder Junction, you probably wouldn’t know why. Well, each day we would say those words at Nash Hall, where we ate, for the people who were departing on trail. Trail is a four to forty nine day wilderness journey in Northern Wisconsin or all over the world. I had been yelling those words every morning for the first eight days of camp, but now it was my day for trail. We gobbled a quick breakfast of oatmeal and then were on our way to our cabin to get our trail gear. Our cabin was named Eagle Ridge.

We then went to the trips house. It is a building where we went to pack our backpacks. We packed all of our clothes, food, and other stuff that we needed. We needed a first aid kit, cooking supplies, utensils, tents, sleeping bag, clothesline, and a cell phone. Our cabin of ten was split up into two groups. My group had Peter, Nick, Jack, Tim, and of course me, Ryan Swietlik. It was hard to pack; it took us about one hour. Then we went out to the canoes. The canoes were orange and were made by the company that made planes for the Vietnam War, which I thought was cool. We then brought the heavy canoes to our bus and loaded them on trailers. The weather was sunny and was about 60 degrees, which was perfect for trail. We were on the TLC trail .The TLC was famous with the camp and includes many rivers and lakes. TLC stands for Trout Lake Circle. The bus ride was fun because it had comfy seats and air conditioning.

We arrived at the boat launch all excited for trail. The head of camp gave a great speech as our half of the cabin was about to take off. He explained three rules of trail. The first, it is always three o’clock because he didn’t want us to worry about the time. The second, do not kill dragonflies because they kill mosquitoes. And the third was fart in the tent so it would stay warm! We then got our canoes from the trailer and we put them in the water. It was a very stormy day on Trout Lake, which made it super wavy. We got in our canoes and I was with Jack because I knew he was a decent paddler. On trail, when I wasn’t with a counselor, I had to be smart about who I picked to be with. If I didn’t, I may not have had the best trail experience. We started and I discovered it was more of a challenge than I thought. It was wavy and we began falling behind and we kept turning in the wrong direction. The rest of the group had to stop and wait for us a couple of times. That made the first part of trail not enjoyable.

After awhile we saw the others stop for lunch. We stopped at a peninsula that was very cool to walk around. We ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches which were very good. We then sat and noticed that the other side of the peninsula was even wavier then the one we just finished. The counselor then made the decision to wait there for a few minutes. During this time the counselor taught us how to us a compass, which might come in handy later in life.

We waited for half an hour for the wind to die down but it never did, so we decided to go for it because we really didn’t want to sleep there. When we started to walk toward the canoes, I asked if we could change our partners, and we did. I was with a counselor this time, who was easier to paddle with because he had such a strong stroke. The first thirty minutes were fine but then it became extremely wavy. The waves were enormous and there were white caps too. Some were so big that they came over the edge of the canoes. Also, one of the kids’ canoes got pinned against the shore. It was kind of frightening but I felt safe with the counselor.

After about three hours (I say this because on trail camp does not allow kids to have watches) of destroying the waves, we were off the lake. Looking back on the battling of the waves, I am surprised we handled it and it was a huge achievement.

After that, we were on a miniature stream that was very slim. The river also had a small current at the beginning, which made us go so fast that it caused us to hit branches. As we passed a branch the T.A told us to jump out, which we did. We had to wet foot it then, which means to walk with the canoe. After we wet footed there was a tunnel we had to paddle through. There was a fast moving current in it. Our canoe was last. We were supposed to stay to the left but we drifted to the right and got stuck on a mound of rocks. Then our counselor got out and pushed us away. Once we did that we were then on a very wide river. The river was very cool. It felt like we were on a whole new planet. It was amazing because I never canoed a river before and that was a huge event.

After paddling it for awhile, we arrived at a nice golf course. Our T.A., Jeff, jumped out of his canoe and went looking for golf balls. If you don’t know what a T.A is, it is a person who helps out with trail. I wanted to look but the water was too deep, and I really didn’t want to get wet. He found about 19 balls and he even gave one to me. We then went on to our first lift. A lift is when I had to lift the canoe over land or a log. How it works is two people get out of the canoe and lifted it over the log. It was my first lift and it was very simple. We had to do many lifts on the river.

We paddled for many hours on the river. We saw some pretty cool things, like eagles, some turtles, and even some fish. Then we noticed we were about halfway done with the river and the sun was beginning to set. We were getting worried and we changed our plans and decided to sleep on Lower Gresham instead of Middle Gresham. We then faced the most challenging lift yet. It was a huge log and the water was very deep and muddy. We didn’t know what to do at first, so we decided to have the grownups lift while we stood on the log, which worked very well. It also felt good to do that, especially when another person came by and said that he was surprised we made it over that log.

After that it was getting dark quickly, and we knew we weren’t going to make it to our original destination. We then turned and we were surrounded by tall plants. We stayed close together so no one would get lost. We then took many turns and then we were at a tunnel. This one was narrow and too rocky to go under. There was a highway up above so we took that. First, we got all of our stuff out and took it to the other side. Next came the heavy 70 pound canoes and they were hard to get over, but we did it!

Once we did that, the river then was flat for the rest of the time until we got to Lower Gresham Lake. The lake was quiet and was pretty and neat. It was just amazing. I couldn’t believe I was doing this. Suddenly, one of the kids from the others boat started yelling, “I WANT A CHURRO”. The counselor and I looked back and I started laughing. That line then became our trail motto for some odd reason. We soon arrived at the camp site and we noticed other canoes were there. They were orange canoes so we guessed they were from our camp. My T.A Jeff then went and asked the other T.A. for authorization to camp there. The other T.A. said yes. Our T.A. then said to look for a good spot. We did find two nice spots so we proceeded to set up the tents. After the tents were set up in the dark, we had an amazing dinner of chili mac. Some kids thought it was too spicy but I thought it was great. Then we went to bed in our tents.

The next morning, I woke up early to use the bathroom. After I returned, I couldn’t fall back asleep. After an hour of despairingly trying to fall asleep, the rest of my tent finally woke up. We couldn’t get up because the other tent was eating and we didn’t want to disturb them. We talked to each other until we heard them leave so we went out. After getting dressed, we headed outside to have a delicious breakfast consisting of oatmeal, eggs and bacon. It is called egg-a-brunch. We then learned to do the dishes and then left the camp. The canoe I was in was with my T.A. and Timmy was the duffer. We first went into a tiny stream and then we entered Middle Gresham Lake.
To pass time in the canoe we told riddles 24/7.They were great because they helped pass the time. I loved them and I always tell my family and friends the riddles I learned. After Middle Gresham was Upper Gresham, the largest of the three lakes and the one with the most population. The first part of it was fine with no wind or waves but when we entered the larger area it became windy. It was hard, but we paddled to the other side. It was fun because when we were paddling, I started humming the Indiana Jones theme to make it sound more adventurous. Once on the other side, we looked behind us and we saw the canoe without the counselor behind us, they were still on the other side arguing. My counselor was getting mad at them and started to yell, “COME ON.” Then Nick abruptly stood up and began to tip the canoe. “STOP DON’T STAND UP” yelled our counselor. I know I shouldn’t have laughed at that but it was too funny, so I started laughing. We then had to paddle back to check on them. When we got there they were in a disagreement whether they should hug the shore or not, which means to stay close to the shore. When we started to talk to them they decided to hug the shore.

After they hugged the shore, we finally decided on a place for a rapid lunch of pitas, which were pretty good. Then we headed for our next challenge; the mighty portage. Portaging means to carry the canoe over land, usually for a distance. First we took all of the bags and put them on the other side. My pack was pretty light and I was lucky because some kids were really having a hard time. Then we walked back to get the canoes. The counselors and Nick took the canoes. I was the spotter for Jeff. We finished first and when we got there we heard a large boom. I asked if it was thunder and Jeff said “It might be.” He thought it was a gunshot from a nearby camp. We then went back to help the others out. When all the boats were in the water again we heard another big bang. Right then we knew it was lightning. The counselors decided we had to make it across the lake. We started to paddle and it started to rain. We paddled fast and made it across Jag Lake in no time. I was kind of sad we had to paddle fast because we could not enjoy the beauty of the empty lake. Once we got to the other side we quickly started to set up camp. There was more thunder, but no lightning. We set up camp super fast and sat around the fire in our rain suits waiting for the rain to stop. We waited for at least 30 minutes until the rain stopped. We then saw clear skies and sun. We were all excited about the sun. Then the counselor and I took a very short trip to get extra water. When we get water we go out in the middle of the lake and collect water in a water bottle. Then we put some liquid in it and wait 20 minutes. After that, it was good to drink. Nick and I then went down to the lake to skip stones. It was fun skipping stones on a deserted lake. It was amazing to be with my best friends in the middle of nowhere skipping stones, that was the life.
We came up and played a fun game of camouflage. It is a game similar to hide and go seek. The game was amusing. When we finished we ate dinner. The dinner was called Gotto-Gotto, which was noodles and peanut butter. It sounds disgusting but it was actually pretty good. If you think that does sound gross you really have to get used to it because that’s all we eat all day. I then had a can of veggies and we even had brownies over the fire. We then went to sleep after a wild day, one I will never forget.

I woke up in the early hours the next day. For breakfast we cooked pancakes. We then had another portage. This portage was harder than the first one because I had to carry the canoe and we needed three people to help with it. We also had to cross a highway. As we were crossing it, Nick started dancing randomly. When he did, one car started honking and it was very funny. When we finished the portage I saw my friend Tommy which was cool because I didn’t think I was going to see him on trail. His cabin was taking a break. We said hi to each other and left. I was the duffer, which means I didn’t have to paddle. It was relaxing looking at all of the scenery like the hills and the tall grass surrounding the river. It was very beautiful and I was happy I was the duffer so I could see all of it. We were on the Manitowish River going up stream which is harder than downstream. We then all got hungry. The counselor asked me how many miles to the nearest camp site. I looked at the map and replied ten miles. We thought that was way too far so we stopped at a bend in the river that was grassy. We got off and the ground was like quick sand so I got all muddy, which I did not enjoy. The spot was hidden behind some trees and was a small grassy area next to a hunting stand. We then ate a very small lunch of leftovers of other meals. The meal I had was a pita with summer sausage on it.

I then had to switch to be in the front of the canoe with Nick because we made a deal at lunch. And we paddled on. We had to wet foot a few tiny rapids. Then we saw some enormous rapids. While we were on it there was a break of rapids and on the break Jack jumped out his canoe and got all wet. That was pretty funny. It was hard to wet foot because I kept slipping. The rapids lasted longer then I expected. They were also pretty and amazing. They were also fun to walk up. When we reached the top of the rapid there was a tunnel with fast flowing rapids. We knew we couldn’t go under it so we had to lift the canoes over the huge bridge. It was a hard lift but we did it fast. To me it was the hardest lift because I had to help with all the canoes. After that the rest of the water was calm until we finally reached Boulder Lake. While we were still on the river we told riddles and talked about music and had a superior time rowing. We then passed another counselor who said that all the campsites were taken up. We were worried then that there would not be any more campsites available. We didn’t know where to go until we found this small camp site on camp grounds. The camp site was well hidden and was surrounded by hills. I liked it because it was cool to explore. It was really hard finding a place to put our tents but we finally found two nice places. We then sat by the fire and relaxed. Later we spotted a baby deer and Jeff taught us how to stalk it. We stalked it for about ten minutes until it ran away. After that we played some additional games of camouflage. We then started to bake our pizza. The pizza was very good and we made garlic bread as a side dish. You would be surprised how good the pizza tasted. We also had pudding. We then went to bed.

We woke up in the early hours the next morning because we had to paddle in. A paddle in is when all the canoe trips paddle to camp at a certain time. We had to take camp down quickly. We then had a quick breakfast of oatmeal. After that we hustled our butts off to get camped down, the packs packed, and the dishes done. We got to pick who our partner was for the last leg of the trip. I was with Nick and he was a great paddler. It was fun because the whole entire camp was their cheering us on while we were singing “Break Out The Oars”, the camp theme song. It was very awesome because the whole camp was on the pier cheering.

We then had to clean everything, which was pretty boring. After that our whole cabin sat together around the fire talking about our once in a lifetime experience. Trail was an amazing time that I will never forget. I was very happy I went on it. It was probably the greatest moment of my life. I will never forget the friends I made, the times we had, and the food we ate.

Since trail I have been way more of an outdoors man. I now love taking hikes; I’m also not as scared to swim in lakes. I also feel more confident about myself. After I finished trail I felt like I could conquer anything. Trail has done much to my life and was truly my best experience so far.

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