“Between every two pines…”

“Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.” ~ John Muir


For this year’s PAL backpacking trip with Big City Mountaineers (BCM), John Muir’s quote rings true. The teens who went on the trip were not the roughest, but they were hesitant (at least a little) to embark on such an intense adventure like a seven day backpacking trip.

We had three officers, two community members, two outdoor professionals, one teacher, and myself among the adults who went on the trips this summer with a total of EIGHT teens. We picked them up early in the morning, brought them to the BCM gear shed where they gathered their supplies and then they were off….

The guys headed towards the wilderness of Mt. Hood to hike the Elk Meadows Trail. They were an eager group and afterwards we heard that they blew through their original itinerary. That meant they got to explore more and experience more. Their pictures were epic and the guys all came back with smiles on their faces. They had challenged themselves beyond what they thought they could do and grew together as a group of men. They created bonds that will likely last for years to come. But don’t take my word for it; here are their words after the experience:

The ladies were on the second shift at the gear shed and after we gathered our gear, we headed west towards Hood River and then back over the Columbia to explore the wilderness of Mt. Adams via the Divide Camp trail and a piece of the PCT. As a group we hiked a few less miles than the guys, but the highlight of our trip was a sunrise hike where we started our climb at 3:30am under the full moon. When we reached the ridge, we experienced the most beautiful sunrise: our panoramic picture started with Mt. Adams, beautiful and big. Then as your eyes searched for the sun you saw first the moon, then Mount St. Helen’s, then Mt. Rainier, and then finally the sun rising. It was absolutely exquisite.

Like the guys the ladies  grew together, becoming like a family on the trail. Though at the end I think our ladies were more tired having fought off numerous mosquitoes throughout the trip. Here is what they had to say afterwards:

Every year I struggle to put into words what we all experience and this year is no different. Both trips created memories and bonds that they will never forget. I hope the words from the teens shed some light and here are links to pictures from the ladies trip and the guys trip, as well as a video compilation from the guys and the gals.

Thank you to BCM for making these trips possible and a huge thanks to our Officers (Gerardo Gutierrez, Julie Ballou, and Katie Endresen) for giving their time to spend a week in the woods with a group of teens!