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Seeing how I created this site and wrote this journal entry four years after going on this trip, the below probably shouldn't be considered a scientific account of the events that transpired.

Students who come to Cornell have the option of going on pre-orientation trips run through the Cornell Outdoor Education student-run group Wilderness Reflections (which has since been renamed Outdoor Odyssey). I decided to exercise this option as an incoming freshman in the fall of 2008. My friends Jackson and Liz from Pennsylvania joined me.

The basic layout of all Odyssey trips remains the same. Students gather on campus for "day zero" between 11am and 1pm. They can store their dorm room belongings during the trip if they so desire, or have their parents return for move-in day. Day zero is spent walking around campus, getting to know everyone on the trip, renting gear from outfitting, packing food, learning how to pack a pack, purchasing dinner in College Town, and sleeping outside on the Arts Quad. I signed up for the six-day backpacking in the Adirondacks trip with a total of two guides: Guy and Jess, and seven trippers: Jackson, Wade, Matt, Liz, Allison, Erica, and myself. Erica transferred out of Cornell after our freshman year.

Guy and Jess chose to route the trip through the High Peaks region of Adirondack State Park in northern New York state. This was my first trip to the region, but I liked it so much, I have since returned to do the exact same hike multiple times. The High Peaks feature alpine terrain above 5,000ft, clear rivers, a scarcity of hikers other than weekends in the summer, and a few very smart bears (one BEARING a yellow tag in each ear - her name is "double yellow"). They are also significantly closer to Ithaca than the White Mountains in New Hampshire. We were dropped off by coach bus at Upper Works trail head and picked up at Adirondack Lodge five days later.

Our trip actually went super-smoothly; no one was hurt and everyone had a great time. We did not end up with the best-friends-forever cohesiveness that some other trips develop, but I'm fine with that. Guy and Jess taught us the typically set of backpacking lessons: how to do this, how not to hurt yourself like that, etc… On night two, we experienced a severe storm which forced us into lightning position for several hours. A few strikes were within a mile of our position, illumining the entire woods with ten times the luminosity of daylight for instants. I was nearest to Matt and asked him whether he preferred Ninjas or Pirates and what his favorite type of candy bar was. I believe his answers were Ninjas and some type of Hershey's product with everything in it.

WR was not without humor. At one point al the guys were standing on the edge of the flowed lands skipping rocks while the women made dinner. Guy pointed out our group had the same dynamics of a middle school dance. When we returned to the lean-to, the girls asked us why we like skipping rocks so much. Guy responded with, "rocks don't make you cuddle afterwards." The only high peak the nine of us summited was Colden, but the view was spectacular and we had to consider all the interests in our large, inexperienced group. Since we had nine people (max is eight per group), Guy occasionally had to sleep a few yards away from us. Day four ended up being very cold for August, and I shivered most of the night in Keith's 35 degree summer bag. Come to think of it, I've never been warm enough on any trip to the 'Dacks.

On the second to last day of our trip, we returned to 4H Acres near Cornell, played a giant game of ultimate Frisbee and listened to skits every trip put on. That's also when I met Kester, who I am still adventuring with. The next morning, we were bussed to campus, I attended registration, saw Yan in line, took a swim test, and moved into my dorm room around 6pm with the help of my mom.

Needless to say, I was hooked. I would go on to coordinate Outdoor Odyssey and guides two eight-day trips.