The Longest Mile

by Jenna Tegtmeyer It's the second week of projects and our team heads out to the project site with the idea that the hike into May Creek cabin would only be a mile. Little did we know the adventure we were in for. Thinking it would be a short distance and relatively flat trail, we decided we didn't need to pack lightly and that we would hike in a large cooler full of food. We park the truck and load up all our gear, cubies, equipment, and that cooler. We start off our hike in good spirits, anticipating our arrival at the cabin, after all it was nearing supper time. We get a ways on the trail and realize just how much stuff we brought with us..good thing it's only a mile and we should be there soon. As the time continues to pass, gear becomes heavier and the sun begins to set. Looking at my watch, I realize how long it has been since we left the truck. Hm...we HAVE to be close to a mile by now. We start to question the validity of our map and wonder just how far it really is to the cabin from the campground parking. The only sign we saw indicating the cabin was in this direction was at the start of the trail. Darkness is beginning to set in and we all begin to worry about missing the path that leads to the cabin. It's a new trail to the entire team so none of us know what we are looking for. The sun has set and now it's completely dark, the nervousness begins to set in we all grab our headlamps hoping we haven't somehow passed the cabin. The team is tired, hungry, and nervous. Brianne and Brittany begin singing at the top of their lungs. Jake and I are bringing up the rear carrying that darn cooler, when he looks at me and says, "If there's a bear out there, we're the first to go. We've got the food." The reality that we could be lost in the woods and carrying a cooler full of food hits me. I start to wonder what we will do if we don't find the cabin soon and when we will call it quits and head back. The weight is beginning to wear on me, Jake and I start taking more frequent breaks. I'm starting to think what our best option will be: continue on, but what if we passed the cabin; turn back, but what if it just up the path; can we somehow camp, we didn't pack for a spikeout? Then I hear Brianne, "It's a sign that says cabin with an arrow." Thank God, I'm thinking. The rest of the path was a series of Brianne and Lindsay yelling back to us, sketchy bridge. By bridge they meant a piece of plywood across a stream crossing. Again I'm starting to think, how much further and then I hear "Cabin!". The relief sets in for all of us and we can all finally breathe. It turns out, that mile of trail to the cabin was actually three miles. We all ate some delicious chili and slept well in our cozy cabin. 

Although in the moment I was scared and worried about the safety of our team, the experience was a great bonding experience. I know I can rely on my team when needed and we have a story of the strength and perseverance of each individual on our team. I'm thankful for the experience, it helped to easily break barriers and work together to reach our destination. The longest mile resulted in lasting friendships and cherished memories.

Photo by Lucas Peterson