• Posted on: May 12, 2011

Big City Mountaineers – Breana Bell

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Before the idea of participating in the BCM trip, if someone were to hint to me hiking was a good idea, I’d quickly disagree.  I never enjoyed the outdoors or any “nature-involved” activities, so a hiking experience of any kind was not an option.  My stepmother convinced me to try it, as agreed to do.  It was my way of experiencing new things, and at the same time meeting new people.  It did help that I wasn’t doing much at home but sleeping anyways.

Once all the papers were signed, and my word was given, I still was very unsure about the idea of being with folks I either didn’t know or knew very little about.  I didn’t want to be in a circumstance where I was unable to depart from the trip and, for a lack of a better word, stuck with people I wasn’t comfortable with.  “August 4th ‘til August 11th,” a whole week, and I’ve had some long ones, seemed an extremely long while to me, to say the least.  As soon as I received the checklist as to what I needed to bring with me, I started to become aware of what I was getting myself into.  “Mosquito repellant, suntan lotion, etc.”  I was really going to be outdoors for seven days.  It’s truly a frightening thought, then, and now.  What can I say, I stood up straight and held my head up high, and proceeded with my plans.

When I arrived at the center, it was told to me that one person that I previously met was participating in the trip as well.  I was, in the least, relieved to find all but one of the female participants to be someone I faintly recognized.  When I saw some ladies with suitcases, I felt I was under-prepared.  I found out that I’m skilled at putting on a worry-free face and proceeding with plans as scheduled, even though I may be “shaking in my boots.”

The van ride to the North Face was a little of an ice breaker for me because everyone was introducing themselves and I slowly became familiar with those who rode with me. Reality started to hit when we were all fitted with our large backpacks and we were toting all the materials to the vans, but I remained calm.  The drive until we stopped at In And Out Burger consisted of my thinking that I wished I was home.  After eating, I looked forward to arriving at what I was told through papers I received, a hotel/condo.  I looked forward to a good night’s rest.  I wanted to clear my head.  When there seemed to be a little confusion, I wasn’t surprised.  I’m used to being lied to, used to expecting certain things and actually receiving much less.  When we rushed to loading the food so the bears wouldn’t come around, needless to say I wanted to go home.  I didn’t feel safe with my company.  My emotions were not uplifting.

Our next morning, we loaded our backpacks and felt how heavy they would be.  I should be an actress because I was in pain.  I’ve had a bit of a memory lapse, because the next thing I remember we were all playing a trust game.  We all stood on a picnic table, crossed our arms, and proceeded to fall into ten, in my case, strangers’ arms.  This was the first night I “went to the restroom” outside.  Yes, it’s true, I urinated on my leg a bit.  After wiping myself down, in the dark, and replacing my pants, I slept with two ladies who names I could barely pronounce.

The fourth day, with 35-40 pound backpacks, we hiked 5.5 miles to Chain Lake where we slept that night. I wanted to cry numerous times this first day, but a pride I have in myself wouldn’t let the company I was with see me in such a vulnerable state.  The next day, even though we were told it was a shorter hike, felt almost impossible.  During the hike and afterward, I wanted to go home, but I knew this was a faint dream and the only way I was getting there was to continue to hike these trails continuously.  We slept at Breeze Lake that night.  The next day, we kept our tents in place, we hiked without backpacks to a height of 10,000 feet.  Did I want to do it? No, it wasn’t at all necessary to do in my perspective. Did I hate every moment of it? No, gladly I enjoyed bits and pieces, here and there.  After hiking down, we enjoyed a game of Mafia.  A new game, I hadn’t heard of, but now could see myself playing with anyone but those ten participants on the trip.

The next day we hiked 1 ½ miles back to Chain Lake for our last night of sleeping outdoors.  Before dark, we all expressed the pros and cons of the trip, lessons we learned, and the things we’d miss.  It was an emotional night.

Our last hike was again 5.5 miles back out to the vans.  It was wonderful to sit and listen to and the girls expressed it was mind-boggling to move without using our own two feet.

I’d like to sum up the last night at the lodge: we ate out, we received BCM shirts and awards, and we cleaned supplies lent to us.  The ladies and I felt very fortunate to take showers and rest in beds.

Now that I reflect, I’m very fortunate to have had the opportunity to belong to such a healthy group of people.  It was good for my outlook on life in general, and I’m truly blessed to have spent a week with the girls. (Names aren’t spelled for fear of misspellings.)  Ms. was wonderful, and is a remarkable woman who does so much for our kids and youth.  We all couldn’t thank Mark enough for making sure we survived our “ordeal” out there in the wilderness.  There’s much more I’d like to express about the ladies, but they all know how I feel about them. Overall, I’m thoroughly satisfied with having participated in the trip.  I learned that just because I haven’t done something before, doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy it.  Additionally, to overcome something you must proceed with one, very painful, step at a time.

Breana Bell
August 12, 2004

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