A Lengthy BRX Update

By Anne Mead

This past Saturday, BRX returned from their long backpacking trip. In the evening, Steve and I drove out to their basecamp to deliver surprise homemade apple crisp and to be present for their Rose Bud Thorn circle. Each Expeditioner and leader took time to reflect and share about their recent experiences.

I’ll start with the “thorns” because they are hilarious and exemplify the positivity of the group well. At least three Expeditioners only had blisters to categorize as thorns. For one, a thorn as well as a rose was that a black bear took his daypack containing a belt, contacts, and muddy cave pants because he forgot to remove a cantaloupe from the pack before bed. The pack and its contents were never to be seen again, but the group spoke of this incident as a happy memory. Sam laughingly shared that his thorn was not being able to spend 24 hours a day with the leaders, Jace, Eli, and Katy, for need of having to ever use the bathroom or sleep.

A rose for most of the Expeditioners was sleeping behind a waterfall on the last night of the trip. For Kathryn, roses included singing the entirety of “99 Bottles of Milk on the Wall” during a hike and getting to spend her birthday on Mount Mitchell. Grace reported that her roses were the whole trip, the waterfall day, and getting to see the sunrise from the top of Black Balsam. Jake described the caving day as radical. Dylan’s roses were being in the mountains for a change, the Black Balsam sunrise, and getting to de-stress. Zoe, like the rest of the crew, enjoyed getting to know her fellow Expeditioners. Cary appreciated growing through the pains of backpacking. Isaac’s roses were waking up to see the leaders pretending to be worms in their sleeping bags one morning and seeing the stars on the first night after Mount Mitchell. “Hi” and “Isaac” were merged by Katy to form “HIsaac” as a personalized greeting.

Unanimously, they feel that they learned a lot over the course of the backpacking trip and are looking forward to their upcoming canoe trips, the sweat lodge, and spending more time together this week.
-Karin Perk, Climbing Coordinator and Expeditions Intern

The following was handwritten by BRX Session 2 Expeditioners Kathryn and Zoe when they returned from their backpacking trip on Saturday.

“Seven days ago, we set out on an adventure of a lifetime. Memories were made, group hugs were shared, and spanky stories were told. We planned our entire trip, which began at the summit of Mount Mitchell (the highest peak east of the Mississippi) and ended by sleeping behind a waterfall.

"We started this adventure by spelunking in Worley’s Cave in Tennessee, where we played in the mud and spent a day in the darkness. On the 10th, we celebrated Kathryn’s birthday atop Mount Mitchell, all decked out in party hats and noise makers. From there, we headed to our first campsite, where we stargazed, found hellbenders and saw a beautiful moon shining through layers of clouds. The next day, we hiked to Potato Knob, where we had a multiple hour siesta and encountered our first bear of the trip due to vitamins left in a pack. The bear dragged the pack and ate the vitamins, so there is a bear hyped up on vitamins somewhere out in Pisgah. The next morning, we set out on a five mile hike during which the song “99 Bottles of Milk on the Wall” was completed by Ally and Kathryn. On this day, we also encountered a minor storm, but all of our tarps stayed dry due to Jace, Katy, and Eli’s expert teaching.

“Our final and longest hike of the trip was eight miles long, during which we met a cute dog named Max. While on a snack break, we were able to see Mount Mitchell and the distance we had traveled in the past four days. We arrived at our site, where we slept behind a waterfall (which means no tarps). On this day, we feasted on mac and cheese. Zoe, Grace, and Jake mistakenly dropped their part of the meal off a ledge and were unable to eat their rocky mac and cheese, resulting in happily shared meals. While at the falls, we had a great group hug, witnessed a beautiful sunset while sharing Rose Bud Thorn, and watched fireflies glow as the night sky and stars appeared. We fell asleep to the crashing waterfall and slept in the open air.

"The next morning, the cook group—consisting of Isaac, Ally, and Kathryn—put way too much water in their oatmeal and attempted to do everything to fix it. It was not fixable. Then we had a nice drive along the parkway. The rest of this day, we hung out and had a lot of bonding time. During the night, we encountered our second bear, this time because someone forgot to remove a rotten cantaloupe from a daypack before going to bed. The pack and its contents (muddy cave jeans, a belt, and contacts) were never to be seen again. Luckily, we were all safe thanks to Jace and Eli chasing the bear off. We woke up early on our final morning of our backpacking trip to hike to the top of Black Balsam, where we watched the sun rise up from the mountains. While on the mountain, we did some yoga and breathing exercises. We skipped breakfast this day to save room for Ben and Jerry’s and other cravings which were satisfied while shopping for groceries for the rest of our expedition.

“Now, we are back at our basecamp waiting for a storm to pass so we can have our first shower in 12 days! Overall, this trip was an incredible experience filled with smiles, overcoming challenges, making new friendships, and strengthening old ones, all while hiking 28 miles in 7 days in the backcountry of North Carolina. I can’t wait for the next week with this amazing group of people!”