This past weekend (Sept. 7 – 8, 2013), ICO volunteers Ben, Kate, Jeff, and Maya teamed up with St. Peter’s staff members Nick and Carlos to take five St. Peter’s students camping and rafting in Western Massachusetts.
After shooting some hoops with the students at St. Peter’s and packing both a van and Ben’s car full of gear and delicious food, we headed west on Route 2. A little over an hour outside of Boston we decided the day was too beautiful to stay cooped up in the car and we stopped for lunch at Mirror Lake – outside of Devens. Mirror Lake was a great find and would be worth a visit during the summer to swim and enjoy its nice beach area. Since it is almost fall, none of us went in, but we enjoyed the scenery and the wildlife. In fact (as you can see in our first picture), there was a deer at the lake that one of the St. Peter’s students was able to approach until he was within feet of it. It was a great way to start our trip!
Although it was hard to tear ourselves away from the relaxing beauty of Mirror Lake, we hit the road again and soon made it to Mohawk Trail State Forest campground in Charlemont, MA. Once we arrived at camp, Ben and Carlos took some students to go get firewood while Jeff, Kate, Maya, and Nick set up the tents and organized the campsite with the rest of the group. After getting everything prepped for camping, we had some time to explore the state forest, which has some of the oldest trees in New England, and two students even took a dip in the aptly named Cold River trickling by below the campground. They warmed up quickly though with delicious spaghetti cooked by Ben, Jeff, Carlos, and a few of the Saint Peter’s students, who were amazing chefs!
After dinner, the Saint Peter’s students made a fire and we stayed up talking, eating campfire bananas (split bananas stuffed with chocolate, nuts, and lots of other things, roasted on the fire in aluminum foil), roasting marshmallows, and telling stories around the campfire for hours, shaded from the night’s drizzle by the tall trees overhead.
In the morning, the rain had stopped and we woke up early enough to have a relaxing breakfast of sausage, eggs, and French toast (with real maple syrup!). Most of the Saint Peter’s students also went for a run after breakfast, which sounded like quite the adventure and many said was a highlight of their trip. They got back just in time to help load everything into the van before we headed to Zoar in Charlemont to start our rafting trip!
At Zoar, we split up into two boats to raft about 10 miles of the Deerfield River including a stretch of rapids called the Zoar Gap, which was the biggest rapid of the day (class 3). Although the day started off cloudy and cold, the sun soon came out and it even got nice enough that we could swim in the river and have epic splash fights with the other boats, and popped "wheelies" by gathering in the back and raising the front of the boat until it almost flipped! It was a little chilly, but was an absolute blast! When the trip was over, we gathered in a closing circle and shared our favorite parts of the weekend and were sad to say goodbye, but were all eagerly looking forward to our next adventure (and next year’s raft trip)!
Photos of the trip can be found here: