The optional 8th grade summer trip was a three-day hike which took place at the beginning of August and covered over 25 miles of the Laurel Highlands hiking trail.
The optional 8th grade summer trip was a three-day hike which took place at the beginning of August and covered over 25 miles of the Laurel Highlands hiking trail. In addition to hiking the trail, students built and tended fires, set up hammocks, carried packs, learned to cook on a camp stove, and saw a few snakes! The most challenging trail section over the mountain of Ohiopyle State Park was a rocky, uphill battle that was won with perseverance.
In just three days, students hiked nearly the distance of a marathon (about a third of the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail which spans 70 miles from Johnstown of Ohiopyle, PA) with weighted packs and steep hills. All the while, they cooked for themselves, cared for their gear, and kept a positive attitude even on a rainy evening. As a kindness, they stocked dry firewood in the camp shelters so traveling hikers would have it during the approaching rain storm.
Ms. Illar and Ms. Banach were fortunate to have Mr. Neil McLaughlan, WSP alumnus (2014) attending the trip to lend an extra hand and bring fun. "Neil's Knots", a knot-tying segment, especially came in handy while hanging cords and tying up rain flies for tents. Ms. Banach taught the students about surrounding plant life, including details about fungi and mushrooms. She pointed out some very rare finds in the woods. One of the students said "learning about the deeper nature was my favorite part."
Though they had to be mindful of distance and mask-wearing, the students braved the trail and the terrain to complete the challenge as a small group. Seeing the marker for "Mile 0" at the end of the trail was a moment that will be remembered. The descent into Ohiopyle was met by the students' families greeting and congratulating them on a job well done.