Trinity Students Backpack through Death Valley National Park during Winter Break

Immersed in Nature and Free from Distractions, Students Enjoy Striking Views and Learn Life Skills

​Hartford, Connecticut, February 20, 2018—The Outdoor Education program in Trinity College’s Recreation Office took a group of 10 students hiking and backpacking through Death Valley National Park, spanning western California and Nevada, from January 12 to 20 over winter break.

​Photo by Kyle Fields '21
The group—which also included two staff members—spent the first few days exploring Red Rock Canyon, where they went day-hiking before setting out on a backpacking excursion through Death Valley. Recreation Director Kevin Johnson said that one highlight of the trip came near the end of a day of backpacking. “Hiking out of the valley and getting to the top of a ridge, we got to see where we were heading for our next day, into Marble Canyon,” he said. “It was quite special.”

Students said that the trip provided an opportunity to experience new places they hadn’t visited before. Hungarian foreign exchange student Szofia Veer said, “I’ve only seen these parts of the U.S. in movies. There was a man in a cowboy hat when I got off the plane, and we met a Boy Scout group while we were hiking. Things like that were really cool.”

The students enjoyed sharing this experience with others from Trinity. Veer said, “I couldn’t have gone to a place like this on my own, or at least not like this. If you travel to a national park with your family, you’ll probably see the main sights and maybe stop in your car for a few minutes. The trip really let us immerse ourselves in the experience and spend an entire week exploring.”

Photo by Zsofia Veer '18
Several students were veterans of the Quest Leadership and Pre-Orientation Program, while others were backpacking and camping for the first time. However, the participants experienced a common challenge, Johnson said. “Food was a concern for some people,” he said. “When you’re backpacking, you can only take so much food; otherwise, it becomes too heavy to carry, so it was a challenge for some people to let go of those immediate needs for a period of time.”

Johnson said that participants learned skills such as how to pitch a tent and how to cook over a small stove. The absence of cell phones, television, and other devices provided an opportunity for the students to interact with each other and share their interests in an environment without distractions. Students also developed life skills including working to overcome physical and mental challenges and making decisions about when to push on and when to turn back.

​Photo by Zsofia Veer '18
Although the physical activity sometimes posed a difficulty for participants who had less experience in hiking and backpacking, the team dynamic encouraged individuals to overcome their struggles. Emily Schroeder ’20 felt the camaraderie was one of the highlights of her experience: “Our second day of backpacking was the most difficult day. The majority of it was uphill and some of our group members were struggling a bit,” she said. “However, when we got to a summit, we were overlooking this beautiful valley. We only had a mile left in our day and it was just such an amazing view the rest of the way. That view confirmed that everything was worth it and we were all sharing it together.”

At the end of the trip, the group also made an impromptu stop at the Nevada-Arizona border and visited the Hoover Dam.

The next destination for a recreational excursion will be hiking and rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California in March over spring break. As a potential destination for next year’s winter break trip, the committee is considering Everglades National Park in Florida. For more information about the Outdoor Education program at Trinity College, click here.

See more photos and a video from the trip below.

Written by Lucy Peng ’18


Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.
To view the full Flickr album of photos from which this slide show was generated, please click here.
Video below by Giles Lemmon ’21.