The first day of class was spent in the front country at “Trails End” cabin. Just before 9am the final students arrived for class. One student coming from as far away as Montana. We started the day right at 9am as planned, and began with introductions allowing everyone to get to know each other. This started in the classroom and then was taken outside for some getting to know each other activities. This was very nice as it provided me with some wonderful ideas on how to do introductions of students outside of the normal spend five minutes telling everyone about yourself. Already I was learning new tricks to take home with me and apply to my courses.
The next five days would be spent with five other LNT ME candidates and the two course instructors. With in the group we had a outdoor educator from Montana, two new AMC employees who would be overseeing trail crew activities for the season, a YOP (Youth Opportunities Program) employee who had never been backpacking before, and a YOP volunteer. It was interesting to see the course clearly had two levels of experience. The first being professionals who work in the outdoors leading extended trips and the second group being people who mainly did weekend trips. Our instructors were both AMC employees.
After the introduction sessions were completed we moved on to a overview session of Leave No Trace and its history. With the basics of LNT as an organization completed, we moved on to talking about what makes a teacher and the different learning styles that people have. The morning passed pretty quickly and it wasn’t long before we took a break for lunch.
After lunch we spent the afternoon dividing up group gear and food for our time on the trail. Preparing for the course I had made the assumption that we would be spending the week eating pre-packaged meals as I had encountered on similar courses. For this reason I brought enough food with me to cover me for the time in backcountry as I am not a fan of instant just add water meals. I was pleasantly surprised to find this was not the case at all and that we would be eating real food in the backcountry. We split into two groups; one group handling the division of group gear and the second group dealing with division of the food. I found myself in the gear group. Myself and my group mates made quick work of our assignment dividing the group gear into 8 equal sections, and weeding out the unneeded equipment. The group dealing with the food took a bit longer as they had to deal with the process of figuring out what would be eaten when and doing the pre-prep of the food.
In the end we ended up with a total of 16 bags (8 food / 8 gear) and lined the bags up in two rows. In theory all the food bags were of equal weight and all the gear bags were equal weight. Try as one might this is almost never the case. To ensure fairness of selection we drew numbers from a hat to determine the order in which people would make selections. I drew last from the hat and ended up with first choice of my bags.
With out group gear & food in hand we all set off to repack our packs and make final adjustments to our equipment loads. With the group gear and food packed, I was pleasantly surprised to find the weight of my pack had not increased all that much from my initial plans, and because of the group gear & food I had selected to carry, that weight would come off quickly. I had the first days lunch, some small group items, and a fuel canister that would be used the first two days. Essentially this would mean that by the second day of the trip I would be free of the group weight in my pack.
Tomorrow we head off to the trail head with a planned departure of 9am. I will be giving my presentation on “Traveling and Camping on Durable Surfaces” shortly after getting on the trail. I love that I am presenting early as it allows me to put my presentation behind me right away and focus on learning new tricks for teaching instead of stressing out about my presentation to the group. Our trail travel would be a relaxing 3.7 miles to our first campsite side at Brink Road shelter. During the trip we would have three different types of campsites: an established campsite, an impacted campsite and a non-impacted campsite.
With luck the warm sunny weather that we had today will stay with us through the rest of the week, but the weather forecast is calling for something slightly different.
Being in front country we had a dinner of delivered pizza, and I enjoyed one last hot shower at the outdoor center before heading off into the backcountry where a showered would be non-were to be found.