May 7, 2002: On Wednesday, May 1, Fire 4 left Perry Point (eventually) and began the arduous journey to the outback of New Jersey, to Camp Trail Blazers, located in Montague and just across the Delaware River from Milford, PA. Upon arrival, we met one sponsor, Jean, a witty Brit. She showed us around part of the camp, including our cabin and the shower house on the 55-acre Lake Mashipacong (I think that's what it's called, anyway). We are living in Chimney Corner, which is the infirmary when camp is in session. There are critters running around it--bats, flying squirrels, spiders--but that just makes it a more authentic experience, don't you think? That evening we met Steve, another sponsor, and his family, who cooked us all a great dinner. Just after dinner we had our first bear sighting! This part of the forest is heavily populated with black bears, so we knew to expect them, but I don't think we figured we would see one right away, and at such close distance. We cannot keep foodstuffs in the cabin or anywhere except the kitchen, because the bears will smell it and break in. And that would not be good news.
Friday morning we had breakfast and met the young people in the Leadership Training Program. These folks are regular campers who came from the city for the weekend to plant the gardens. As the weather was too wet on Friday, our group and their group split up into teams to clean out some buildings and tidy some of the trails. Saturday was a gorgeous day, and we got both the boys' side and girls' side gardens planted. On the boys' side, our group had to till the soil by hand (well, by hoe, really) and put in rows for planting. Both gardens got tomatoes, peppers, onions, carrots, herbs, squash, cucumbers, corn, and some flowers too. We were very proud of our work at the end of the day.
Sunday morning all of us successfully did the Challenge Wall. We hope to do it again, as a team. After lunch, the LTPers returned to New York, and we started a big list of clean up. More building cleaning and lots more raking. It wasn't the most exciting or fulfilling work, but it looked awesome when we were done. That sense of accomplishment is great. I'm all about tangible results.
Monday and Tuesday were our days off. Just after noon on Monday, seven Fire 4 members set off down the highway for three miles. We finally met up with the Appalachian Trail and hiked about two miles to the lookout on the top of Sunrise Mountain. It was a long, not-exactly-easy-but-not-difficult hike, and the vista at the top made it worth the exertion. It was as amazing as we'd heard from the campers. We are hoping to rise early one day to actually see the sun rise from Sunrise Mountain. When we got back to camp, after hiking about 12 miles altogether, the seven of us devoured four boxes of mac and cheese, and crashed a few hours later. Today most of us are pretty sore but feeling good.