Tag Archives: outdoors

Why summer camp is (literally) the best thing ever!!!!

I’m sure that most of us have as least one traumatic memory from our first time at sleep away camp. Don’t you vividly remember the horror of being sent away alone for several nights amongst prepubescent strangers like yourself? I know I do. I catch the first whiff of the briny breeze as I step out of the car at the ferry terminal in downtown Seattle. The air is chilly at 8 am despite it is the middle of July.  Greeted by swarms of kid and teenagers alike, all of them here for the same reason as I am: to be cast away for 7 dreadful days to Vashon Island.  Destination: Camp Sealth.

camp sealth

There is a flurry of duffel bags and sorting out boat tickets and hugs and kisses goodbyes to parents as each of us solemnly depart. We are practically stepping off into the abyss towards the great unknown, A.K.A. a white ferry on Puget Sound. There are tears; there are protests, yet exhausted parents still must shove their reluctant children aboard, a twinkle of guilt along with relief in their tired paternal eyes. I float among these hectic crowds; my dad is already gone. I’m yet to cry. Instead I am a speck of dust being herded like a sheep, backpack and Northface duffel in tow, my only company the novel Legend by Marie Lu.  Guided aboard a packed vessel where I will feel incredibly alone. Continue reading

The (Not-So) Great Outdoors and Why It's Worth It

This past weekend I, along with several of my schoolmates, embarked on a trek through the mountains to go snow camping. I approached the endeavor with a mite of trepidation, since it had been a good five years since the one and only time I had been camping. I felt a little like Hamish Bowles on his expedition for Vogue. This is not to say I am a novice outdoorsman (outdoorswoman?) per se, but never, in all my seventeen years, had I been backpacking. Especially not in the snow.

Starting out I felt great. The air was crisp and with my backpack strapped tight I felt ready to take on the world. Ten minutes later I was sweating, my hair was coming out of my braids, and my hip flexors were burning. But I trudged on, remembering my mother’s admonitions not to whine.

When we finally arrived at our campsite setting up camp was easy enough. We pitched the tents (I use the term “we” generously since I found tent construction beyond me) and then puttered about after, trying to keep busy (and warm) before dinner. As the sun set the cold arrived and after tortellini and hot chocolate everyone headed to bed.

I had expected the trip to be cold. I had imagined myself coming in from the biting night air, hopping in my deliciously warm sleeping bag, and drifting off to sleep. I was not prepared for the reality.

I found myself huddled in a ball on my disappointingly thin sleeping pad, desperately pressing hand warmers to my face in an effort to combat the bone-deep cold that had settled over the tent. I would finally lull myself to sleep only to awake an hour later, colder than before. My tentmates and I tried to huddle together for warmth, but the slope of the ground kept repeatedly rolling my friend Kate to the other side of the tent. Thirteen hellish hours later we emerged, stiff and sore from our sleeping bags. After oatmeal and some “snow-ga” (yoga in the snow), we packed up and headed out. The hike back was subdued, everyone keeping to themselves—a far cry from the day before. There was only one feeble attempt to make conversation about Sinead O’Connor which was greeted by silence from the rest of the group.

It may seem that this entry is written to warn everyone against camping or backpacking. However, as I reached the crest of the last hill and saw the parking lot below me, I was overcome with a feeling of accomplishment. All the aches and pains seemed to disappear as I dropped my pack to the ground and collapsed down next to it. I felt dirty, sweaty, tired, but above all, triumphant. As awful and cold the night before had been, I had gotten through it. I have a theory that snow camping is like childbirth. It sucks while you’re doing it but it’s worth it in the end. Plus back in the land of central heating and indoor plumbing you begin to forget just how truly miserable you were that night. Looking back I would say snow camping was worth it for the bonding and the stories to tell less adventurous friends and family. Now I don’t think I’ll ever go snow camping again, but I’ve already got my eye on the senior backpacking trip this summer . . .

If you’re heading to the great outdoors and are looking for good hikes throughout the Northwest check out these books for some ideas:

Hiking the great Northwest : 55 great trails in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Northern California, British Columbia, and the Canadian Rockies / Harvey Manning, Ira Spring, Vicky Spring.

Washington hiking : the complete guide to more than 400 hikes / Scott Leonard.

–Hannah, Teen Center Adviser

Lace up your hiking boots

As far as I am concerned, August is one of the best months to go hiking because nearly all routes are accessible and the weather is great. Not only that, but school is out so you can lace up your hiking boots and take advantage of fewer crowds during the week!

freedomofthehillsWith that said, maybe you are unsure where to go or what to bring. The what to bring part is easy. You should bring the ten essentials. If you do not know what they are you can easily find out because it is mentioned in nearly every hiking book I have seen. Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills is a comprehensive book that will tell you what the essentials are as well as cover the basics for scrambling, climbing, dressing in the wilderness, etc.

The where to go part is up to you, but the library has lots of books to help you make your decision. We have books on hikes in the North, Central and South Cascades, the Olympic Penisula, Snoqualmie Region, and Mount Rainier.

What are you waiting for?

Love biking?

I do. There is nothing like it for me. It’s like flying.

shift1One of my goals is to bike across the United States at some point, which is why I really enjoyed reading the book Shift by Jennifer Bradbury. Win and Chris  go on a journey that ends up changing their lives forever. After graduating high school they make an impulsive decision to go from their hometown in West Virginia all the way to the other side of the United States.

inyourroom1 I have always thought swapping houses with someone would be a blast, and honestly, in high school swapping rooms with a guy would have been like getting inside the male brain (that is what I would have thought). In Your Room by Jordanna Fraiberg is the story of a house swap, summer romance, biking, fashion and being who you are.


 In Along for the Ride by Sarah Dressen, Auden is headed off to college in the fall, but in the interim is spending the summer with her dad in a little beach town. Auden’s missed out on a lot of life, including learning how to ride a bike, having girl friends, going to the prom and so much more, but thanks to Eli all of that is about to change.

If you like to bike and you are looking for something to read this summer these books might be for you.