Words From the Wilderness | Entry #2
By Arielle Aronoff, Lead Field Guide
We hiked through fields of purple lupine, magenta fireweed, creamy pearly whites, yellow sunflowers, and lush green grass. The aspens, straight and tall, clouds dot the sky, the sound of running water along the trail. Majestic Rocky Mountains as the backdrop.
Our hike started off idyllic. Only 1.5 miles to our first site. We arrived at our mile marker and suddenly the marshy landscape that created such beauty turned into a challenge. It was a breeding ground for mosquitoes. The tall grass and cow parsnip impeded our ability to find a suitable camp.
It was nearing 7:00 PM and the next water source would be a 2 mile hike uphill. We reached consensus, had a snack, and hiked on.
The students at BaMidbar are mostly new to backpacking. A 3.5 mile hike with 20-40 pound packs on is quite the feat. We rolled into camp at 9:00 PM, set up a rope to hang our food away from nature’s reach, filtered water from the creek, and ate dinner. Our campsite had few flat spots. The rocks and shrubbery were abundant.
With limited trees to set up tarps, we took the opportunity to lay out under the stars. The Milky Way, bright and prominent, was above us. With the occasional shooting star and the sound of the nearby creek, we fell asleep.
The challenges we faced to get comfortable could have been a moment of collapse for our students. The insects, uncertainty, late night, and physical exertion. Instead, it was a moment of growth. We all camp together to make it to camp safely. Some took on additional weight in their packs to help their peers. We made it together.
As one student stated just a few days after this experience, “you find in time that the challenges you face make you stronger.”
About the Author
Arielle Aronoff, Lead Guide (she/her)
Arielle Aronoff is an outdoor educator who brings knowledge of the intersections of Judaism and ecology. She seeks to create an environment in which our natural inclination for exploration, curiosity, and connection can be engaged while developing a meaningful relationship with Jewish tradition, the land, and each other. Arielle has her BA in Anthropology and Environmental Studies from SUNY Geneseo. She served as Director of Teva, a program of Hazon, and is the founder and lead teacher of Kol Hai’s Forest Hebrew School.