Filed from the field by BRX Leader Becca Warner

By Anne Mead

Monday, June 27, 2016

We walked out of the trees, covered in layers of sweat and dirt, muscles enflamed,
feeling more accomplished than when we first hit the trail four days ago. Our
backpacking journey began on the Mountains to Sea Trail in upper Pisgah Forest
and as the itinerary evolved, we were able to explore lower Pisgah Forest on the Art
Loeb Trail.

Our expeditioners hiked along Flat Laurel Creek, trekked through pine forests, along
ridgelines and in alpine meadows over 5,000’ in elevation. We set up camp in a
wooded area near the creek and enjoyed our first meal – a Mexican fiesta! The group
retreated to their sleeping bags fairly early and fell asleep while lightning bugs
danced around their tarps.

Day two brought us to the top of Sam’s Knob where we enjoyed our lunch under a
sunny sky surrounded by the undulating Blue Ridge Mountains. After lunch, the
group spread out to experience 30 minute “solo sits.” This is a silent, reflective
period that allows the participants to really connect with their surrounding
environment through heightened senses. That afternoon, we set up camp in a pine
forest at the base of Black Balsam and practiced making fire by friction. That night
around the camp fire , the sense of community really started to grow wings. They
shared personal stories of the paths that brought them to this expedition.

Early the next morning, we broke camp, loaded our gear and ourselves into the van
to transport down to the Art Loeb Trailhead. Hiking along the trail, we snacked on
tart, wild blueberries until we made camp. Then, we broke into solo sits again for
centering and reflecting on our expedition thus far. When done, we made dinner,
played games and crawled into sleeping bags ready for sleep.

The following night found us camping by the Davidson River. Hours of
entertainment both in and along the river kept us entertained and engaged for
hours. That evening, we deepened our knowledge of and familiarity with fire
building. We made a backcountry oven out of stones and cooked pits pizzas while
the sun set on another day.

The next morning, we broke camp again and made our way down the trail bound for
base camp back on the Green River Preserve. The community that has grown in the
past eight days has been magical to witness as a leader. The encouragement,
consideration, trust and respect that these young expeditioners are showing to each
other and themselves is an honor to watch develop in each one of them as we begin
the final stretch of this adventure.