2010 Cold Weather Camping Trip By Tim Clement

Student John Strout poses for a picture next to a waterfall on the Appalachian trail.
The Hemlocks Lean-to, where we spent the night.

On November 9th, 2010, ACE teachers Anthony Hellman and Kyle Trocolla set off for a camping trip with 9 students including myself. We set off for the Appalachian Trail at 8 A.M. The trail we would be hiking would start in Kent, Connecticut, and come out in Massachusetts. We were set to hike about twelve and a half miles.

We started off the trip by leaving ACE, and stopping at a McDonald’s in New Canaan to get some warm food before our hike. Once everyone was done eating, we packed back into the van. We parked the van at the beginning of the trail. Everyone hopped out and immediately began stretching for the rigorous hike. Once done stretching, we all had to help each other get our packs on. The packs were heavy, weighing an average of about 40 to 50 pounds. It doesn’t seem like much, but hiking up and down mountains with 50 pounds of food and clothes on your back takes its toll on your feet, legs, and back.

We started off our hike up the mountain at about 11 A.M., and everything so far is going very well. We were hiking at a steady pace, and at this rate we would be to our camp site by about 3 O’clock. About halfway up the mountain, we lose site of ACE student Luis Martins and teacher Anthony Hellman. It turns out the frame on Luis’ pack had begun to snap in half from all the weight. But at this point, we’re already over the peak of the first mountain and we began to decline. About halfway down the mountain, the pack finally gives under the weight of Luis’ 60 pound pack. There’s still about two miles left until we reach our campsite. Luis ends up carrying the broken pack the rest of the way, which must have been annoying considering the frame was snapped in half.

When we finally reach our campsite, it’s about 3 in the afternoon. This being my second year on this trip, I remember the campsite. Once I see the sign, “The Hemlocks Lean-to, Straight Ahead”, I begin running toward the site. “Why are you running?!” I hear from several students behind me, “Oh, you’ll see” I yelled back. About 200 feet away, I see the campsite. The campsite was just as nice as last year; with a picnic table, a fire pit with logs in a circle around it for seats, and a lean-to. A lean-to, for those who don’t know, is a shelter made of nothing but wood for about 10 to 15 people. The shelter has four bunks, and a loft which supports around 10 people.

The trip was pretty cold, with temperatures as low as 30 degrees at night. The entire mountain side was ice, which was the cause of us coming home a day early. In the morning we cooked some food, got our packs together, and headed out. We hiked for a good two hours, and were off the trail at about 11 A.M. We piled into the van, and the teachers treated us to pizza on the way home. We were back to Danbury by 2 O’clock.