Shanelle Middleton

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    Big City Mountaineers
    It all started with simple questions? Shanelle, do you want to go on a BCM trip with me? “And of course, I said “sure, why not?” Now when I said “sure why not” I didn’t know what BCM was. Then I later found out that it was a backpacking trip. Once I got to know the details it was too late to change my mind, because I had made a commitment. So there I was four days into my 14th birthday, Shanelle Middleton going on a backpacking trip for 8 days.

    On the first day, we met our trail leaders as well as the other participants at EOYDC before we headed for Yosemite. I was excited to be going on the trip, but once we got on the road all of the excitement, little by little, went away. I started second guessing myself, asking questions in my mind like, “What am I doing here?” and “what am I supposed to get out of this?” I was determined to find the answers to these questions.

    Once we got there, we stayed at Yosemite school for the first day just so we could get ready for the “real” trip. When we first got there we planned what we were going to have for dinner and what we were going to do the next day. Meanwhile we played around exploring the campus of Yosemite school. Mekaela and I put on a performance with Brittany as our accompanist and everybody was our audience and like it. Ms. Regina liked our performance because she thought it was a good way of bonding with each other. Anyways, Mekaela and I cook the heard of the tacos the first night but everybody did a little something, like cut the tomatoes or shred the cheese, especially Ms. Regina. She did the impossible and cleaned the refrigerator from top to bottom and through away a whole bunch of old food that was left from previous campers. That night was a good night. We all were happy to finally be here, but didn’t know what we were going to be putting ourselves through.

    On Monday, we all woke up got dressed and started to pack our hiking backpacks. We learned to share because everyone couldn’t bring everything they needed. So everyone brought something everyone could share. Like I was the only person to bring sunscreen and Narea was the one to bring baby wipes. Once we were done, Lesley (our trail leader) took us up on our first trail to Vernal Waterfalls. I was happy that we were going to see a waterfall but boy did that change! The higher we got up the more scared I got and once I reached my limit I broke down. I wanted to turn around and go back but I couldn’t. Then to top it all off, Ms.Regina told me to stand at the edge of the mountains so we could take a picture. I was like, “Are you crazy?” Everyone kept pushing me and I couldn’t have made it to the top without them. WE had lunch at the very top of the waterfall and then we had a long walk back down the mountain. When we finished the hike and reflected on it, I then realized that it was going to be an adventure I would never forget.

    I woke up knowing that this was going to be the start of the hardest week of my life. We got our backpacks, tents and everything else and we were on our way. The second day was the hardest of all, because we were not used to having those heavy backpacks. We walked like 7 miles to get to our first stop and I was so happy when we did. Once we got there we set up camp and Mekaela and I cooked dinner. Just so I don’t have to keep saying it, Mekaela and I cooked dinner every night!!!!

    As the days when on I got more used to the backpack and the hiking was getting easier, until I got sick in the middle of the trip., My nose started to clog up  and Karen told me that my tonsils were swollen. I wasn’t too thrilled about that but they gave me medicine and I got better just in time to climb the summit. I was super scarred to climb the summit but I did. I climbed 10,000 feet with the help of my fellow climbers. I had never been so scared in my life!  After we climbed back down the mountain we go t to stay in the same camping sport for another night. We called it our lay over day. This was the time that we really got to bond. WE listened to Ms. Regina’s storied and we hung out by the lake. Before I knew it the day was over and we had to start our hike back home. This was another hard day because we were determined to take a couple extra steps to a closer camp site. We wanted to keep going so that we didn’t have to walk as far on Saturday. So we did. We walked about 11 miles to Poly Lake. Once we got there everyone was physically tried but so happy mentally. We couldn’t wait to go home. We cherished this moment because it was the last day we were going to be in the woods together. We had our last campfire and did our last BCM ritual. We wrote our fears and things we wanted to get rid of on little pieces of paper, then one by one we announced them and then threw them the fire. To me, throwing them in the fire was a symbol of “letting go”. WE let go of all our fear and anything else we wanted to get rid of. The night was over and we were ready to end our trip. We walked about 3.5 miles the last day and when we saw the cares we took off in a sprint yelling and screaming. I remember people looking at us as if we were crazy. We got in the cares and were on our way back to Yosemite school. Once we got there, there were other people getting ready to go on their trip including the EOYDC boys. It was surprising to see them. The first person I saw was “Twin Twin”. I tried to help him pack but he refused to listen so I just said good luck and let him be on his way. Anyway, we got all of our stuff and we went outside to separate our stuff from the BCM stuff. After getting all our stuff together for our road trip back home, we went to go take showers and wash all of our things. A shower felt so good. I had to be in there for at least 30 minutes. We all got dressed, look a lot nicer than we did before and we didn’t stink! I know everyone was in a good mood. By the time we were done we all went out to eat dinner and have our award ceremony. We went to a barbeque place to eat and I experienced my first Charlie horse. It hurt so badly. We ate and all of the hiker leaders gave out awards. Each of us got a BCM flag that had comments on it and the award we won. We also got shirts and bags. We felt much honored, but we didn’t want to leave out the people how lead our trip so all of the girls made little awards for the adults. Overall it was an exciting trip!

    I am really glad that I went on this trip because it helped me become a strong person. I finally figured out why I went on this trip. It took me about 3 days after we had finished but I figured it out. I went on this trip because Ms. Regina saw a leader in me and she wanted to bring it out of me. She knew that I wasn’t going to like stepping out of my comfort zone and I needed to overcome that. I don’t think she knew that I was afraid of heights but she knew that I was strong enough to overcome anything that came my way on the trip. Now I don’t “think” I “know” that I can do anything. You can do anything physically if you know that you can do it mentally!

    Shanelle Middleton

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