As the slowness of summer break began its inevitable quickening into the busy-ness of a new school year, four members of Hampden-Sydney’s Outsiders Club made the most of their last days of freedom in the last frontier. Seniors Dane Warner, Jake Beavers, Jake Brown, and Dave Lowman took on the Alaskan Chugach wilderness on a 10-day backcountry hiking and sea kayaking excursion led by Sporting Clays Team Coach Ned Horton ’12 and Director of High Adventure Scott Schmolesky.
“August is gold in Alaska,” says Horton—who has 11 Alaskan backcountry trips under his belt. “The salmon are running. It’s bear-viewing and berry-picking season. The splendor of Alaska is on full display.”
Upon arrival in Anchorage, the expedition spent one day provisioning—acquiring and organizing critical supplies such as camp stoves and fuel, freeze-dried meals, sleep supplies, water filtration system, and personal warming items. The students got a great lesson in adapting and overcoming setbacks after one student’s bags were lost by the airline, having to source the items that were misplaced while letting go of the frustration.
With their packs loaded, the group tackled 50 miles on Resurrection Pass Trail over four days—gaining several thousand feet of elevation and passing from spruce and birch forest to alpine tundra. “I really wanted the pace to be approaching intense those first couple of days to not only set the bar high, but also to get the toughest bit of terrain out of the way,” Horton says. With that in mind, the group set a grueling pace on day one, covering 17 miles with 50-pound packs in just eight-and-a-half hours.
After another day of provisioning to resupply and switch from packs to drybags, the group set out for two days of kayaking in Prince William Sound. An incoming weather system forced the expedition to cut a half-day of kayaking for safety, but the experience was not sullied in the slightest.