By Jordan Spordone

A Morning Treasure

By the end of August, I couldn’t wait to start my five-hour journey into the wilderness. Friends and family would ask if I was scared, nervous, or sad about leaving home, but the truth is I was overly excited. Of course, I would miss my two precious dogs at home, but it was a sacrifice I was willing to make. My high school friends were off at their colleges, and I knew it was time for me to do the same. I was ready to expand my horizon of the world I lived in.

A Challenge of Determination

After the first week of my new world at college, it became clear who my friends were going to be. I was fortunate to be included with the Emerging Leaders who all possessed a unique relationship with the outdoors. At night, the stars would shine their brightest as they watched us jump into the ever so still Saint Regis lake. During the day, the sun would stand tall in the sky while the birds sang their songs far below. The trees spoke a secret language as the breeze moved through dense colorful leaves. After the first two weekends of hiking Saranac sixers, my friends and I decided to hike the second highest mountain in New York State, Algonquin. The climb was hard, but the challenge was one we’d been searching for. The rain clouds opened their gates as the top came into sight. Not long after the winds picked up and revealed the sun once again. My eyes tried to capture the divine beauty that stood within thirty miles of me. From that day on, all my hikes down hidden pine trails led to breathtaking views and bonding relationships.  

 

The Water is Always Changing

Aside from the daily homework, work schedule, and weekend hikes, I found most relaxation in kayaking. As dawn peered over the distant mountains, I would race to my kayak. Being first on the lake was like finding a secret place no one has ever been before. Most mornings the water stood still while the cold moist air touched my skin. The first heat received was seen on top of the water as it evaporated into a warm fog. The sound of a fish biting the surface could be heard from a hundred feet away with smooth ripples exposing its exact location. Within a few minutes the water would stand still again. Waiting for an adventurous soul to tamper with such a delicate scene.

 

Going Out With a Bang

As fall continued and the temperature dropped I decided there was time for one last big hike. My closest friends Donovan and RJ, joined me as we set out for the ultimate test. A hike up Marcy, Skylight, and Grey Mountains. Marcy being the highest 46er, it became our enemy as the five-mile hike began to gain elevation. My knees cursed my body as the burning tension increased with each rock I passed. The hot sweat ran down my back while I inhaled a fierce cold breath. My feet ached with a pain like stepping on burning pavement in the summer. After multiple breaks, laughs and snacks we found ourselves 5,344 feet high surrounded by wilderness. The winds didn’t wait to show their strengths as they whipped fifty mile-per-hour gusts at us. Finding cover behind rocks gave us the break we’d been looking for during our three-hour expedition. From Marcy we made our way to Skylight, and as daylight was running out we made our four-hour journey home. Most people would think the hike up is the hardest, but any hiker will tell you that the climb down is just as hard. The path down never seemed to end. Turn after turn, rock after rock, all further down the trail. With a bathroom break, water fill up, and laughter, we found ourselves at the car. Unanimously, we decided to stop at the Chinese Buffet, where food never tasted so good. All the cells in our bodies craved any nutrients they could get and devoured three full plates of the most appreciated food. From this experience, I learned that confidence is good, but being arrogant can lead to a rude awakening.

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