Today is the fourth day of our orientation, camping in the hot sun in New Mexico. Along with getting to know each other and becoming comfortable as a group, we have been learning how to camp and live in the wilderness. For example, we learned how to use Whisperlite stoves to cook on backpacking trips (something I never even knew existed and whose name is quite whimsical), we learned how to wash our clothes using as little water as possible, and today we learned about how to engage in profound dialogue as a group. The skills we are learning our first week will help us throughout our entire trip.
Our orientation is quietly coming to a close, but not without first bringing us to a scenic overlook over El Paso, Texas, and then to a morning hike in Franklin Mountain State Park tomorrow. Soon, we will be embarking on our five-day backpacking trip through Big Bend Ranch State Park. We will be taking our newly-learned camping skills and putting them to the test, hiking 22 miles on our journey. I, along with my fellow group members, am very excited for this trip, especially because we get to break in our hiking boots and see beautiful sunsets and sunrises in the mountains.
We are surrounded by some of the most stunning scenery to ever exist: sandwiched between two mountain ranges covered in sand and vegetation. The days are hot and the nights are cold–but luckily, we are accompanied by the sounds of howling coyotes every night to help us ease into sleep. I have never had an experience like this before, and it is quickly becoming one of my favorite weeks of my whole life. I miss home and my family, but absolutely nothing compares to the sunrises in the morning and our daily walks through the desert. I would not trade this experience for anything.