On the first day of expedition, we got up as usual for a 7:15 a.m. breakfast, and chores. Then we boarded the bus for our ride to Star Gap Road and began the hike up Piney Knob Trail to our first camp. When we got there, Mr. Mike allowed us to skip classes so we could work on building up our fires and getting water. It was a beautiful but chilly day.

On day two, my tent partner, Hailey and I got up and started our departure SOP for the hike to our next camp. Once we arrived, Mr. Mike informed us that each tent group was now made up of survivors of a plane crash. We had been flying over the Appalachians when our plane crashed. We had escaped from the plane just before it was engulfed in flames. We had managed to grab two sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and a saw. The catch was that no one was going to be looking for us for two to three days, so we would need to build a shelter. Hailey and I built a large shelter, but since it wasn’t finished by nightfall, we slept in our tent, making sure to keep warm and dry.

On the third day, Hailey and I got up and started a fire before rally. We split into two groups and headed out to clear trails until 2:30 – 3:00 p.m. When we got back to our camp, we kicked up our fire, cooked our meal, and completed our shelter before crawling in. That night there wasn’t any cloud cover and our fire went out, so it was rather cold.

Day four was near freezing and the wind was blowing hard which made it seem much colder. The hike to our next camp wasn’t very hard, but we had to cross Gentry Creek a number of times, and walking with a boot full of cold water isn’t very enjoyable. The snow started falling hard after we got into camp, and we didn’t get a fire going. Mr. Mike told us to climb into our sleeping bags to stay warm. Later, when the snow hadn’t let up as expected, Mr. Dan came around and said that fires were optional, and we could go ahead and stay in our tent if we wished. We stayed in!

On the morning of day five, Hailey and I were awakened by Mr. Mike shaking ten inches of snow off our tent so we could get out. We were allowed to join up with the other girls’ tent group, Taylor, Larissa and Sonja, to get a fire going because finding wood in all the snow wasn’t very easy. That day, we didn’t do much beyond keeping our fires going, collecting wood, eating, and staying warm.

Finally, day six rolled around, and we were all packed up and ready to go by 10:30 a.m. The sun was out as we hiked down Gentry Creek road to the pick-up point. By 2:30 p.m. we were back at the school for hot showers and a hot meal. This year, the FMA lodge was my Valentine!

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