The High Divide (Trip) - Grade 9 (Rite of Passage)

High Divide_2018Web.JPG
High Divide_2018Web.JPG

The High Divide (Trip) - Grade 9 (Rite of Passage)


Saturday, August 4 - Friday, August 10, 2018 (FULL - Standby List Available)

Pre-Trip Meeting (Mandatory): Friday, August 3, 2018

Join with a group of other advanced backpackers to hike on one of the most spectacular - and popular - trails in the western U.S. and Canada. Here marmots, pika, black bear, mountain goats, and humans share the trail with wildflowers, waterfalls, alpine lakes and meadows, glaciers, rivers, and ancient trees. This trail has it all!

The ticket for admission to this wilderness splendor is stretching our edges: five out of seven hiking days will be with our full packs on back, while two days we will be exploring mountain meadows and alpine lakes with day packs. Our route will take us through a fairyland of mossy green old growth forest alongside the Sol Duc river, then up into the high country. Above the trees, we’ll walk along the High Divide, a top-of-the-world perch to watch the sunset over Mt. Olympus and enjoy expansive views in all directions. Making camp near Hoh Lake, we’ll day hike back up to the Divide to explore the Seven Lakes Basin, where elk herds and solitary black bear often roam among glacier-carved alpine lakes. We’ll end this epic exploration day hike with a scramble up Bogachiel Peak to watch sunset over Mt. Olympus. Our descent will include an overnight at Deer Lake before we come full circle to the trailhead.

As we travel through these mountains we'll explore and discuss our own journey through adolescence in this rite of passage trek. All along the way, we'll go out and go within, co-discovering our changing selves as young women in this time and culture, considering our relationships with self, parents, peers and our community.

This hike is 20 miles long, but day hikes can extend it to 30+ miles. We'll be making collaborative decisions about how much extra exploring we want to do beyond our commitment to the 20-mile loop. Read more here (check out the reviews below the main description), here, and here. Slideshow here.

Advanced Level. Total trip miles: 20 miles with full packs, collaboratively decided additional distance in day hike explorations.


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2018 Itinerary

Saturday, August 4 - Friday, August 10, 2018

Pre-Trip Meeting (mandatory): Friday, August 3, 2018. Time: 10:00-1:00PM. Location: Cascades Montessori Middle School, 2710 McKenzie Avenue, Bellingham. Directions. Participants should bring backpack and everything on the gear list they plan to bring on the trip. While this meeting is for participants only, we're happy to fill parents in on everything we discuss!


Meet at Cascades Montessori Middle School, 2710 McKenzie Avenue, Bellingham at 8:00AM in order to catch the ferry to Port Townsend. Directions. After stopping at the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles to obtain permits and bear canisters for each participant (note: empty, these weigh about 2 lbs each), we'll learn about the historic Elwha Dam removal, then head west to the trailhead at Sol Duc Falls. From there, we’ll shoulder our packs and hike 5.2 miles along the Sol Duc River, gradually gaining elevation through an ancient forest filled with flinging ferns and mossy carpets until a dinnertime arrival at Sevenmile Camp, perched above the rushing river. The intention of this rite of passage trip is to go out and go within, touching on topics pertinent to emerging young adults, and, in addition to wilderness skills, this first night we’ll set the stage for this aspect of our shared week.


After breakfast, we’ll break camp and continue our ascent to the high country. This shorter day will bring us only 2.5 miles to the edge of the alpine zone, where we’ll establish camp and explore the meaning and cultural contexts of rites of passage through conversation, connection, and activities. A late afternoon hike with daypacks will take us out toward Cat Peak to watch the sunset over Mount Olympus. Dinner and discussion, along with preparation for the next day, will bring on the night and sleep under stars beside another mountain stream. 


Today we travel over the namesake for this trail: the High Divide, a sky-high spine with breathtaking views in all directions, Mount Olympus as the centerpiece. Heart-shaped Heart Lake is the first to greet us as we ascend above tree line, then we’ll step up into mountain views galore. We may also catch sight of and learn more about the wildlife that makes this area home: elk herds, mountain goats, and black bear. Rounding Bogaciel Peak, we’ll descend the divide past Hoh Lake to establish camp below for the next few nights. Settling into camp and intentional conversation, we’ll glean answers to our questions from the wisdom of one another as we delve deeper into understanding the bridge of adolescence and teenhood. Of particular focus this day is our changing relationships with ourselves, including self esteem and body image.


Many rites of passage involve solo time, and here near our meadow camp, this rest day will be spent focused on reflection and inner discoveries. We'll seek and find our solo Peaceful Places along the cascading stream, around Hoh Lake, or scattered around this meadow in the heart of the mountains. We'll sit in silence for an extended time, reading letters from some special people in our lives, then come together to process our experience. We’ll begin and end the day with discussions and sharing about our changing relationship with our parents and other adults in our lives.


The High Divide is famed for the Seven Lakes Basin, a glacier-carved area filled with glittering waters. Today brings a break from full packs, as we hike back up to the High Divide, then dip down the other side into the basin. Our day will be spent exploring from lake to lake, likely dipping in a few; enjoying lunch at Lunch Lake; and wondering at wildlife (past trips have seen black bear eating blueberries, scientists studying frogs, grazing goats, and a distant herd of elk we mistook for a pack of Boy Scouts). Our walk back to camp will include a short climb up Bogachiel Peak to watch the sunset over Mount Olympus, before descending back to our meadow camp. Aside from taking in all we’re exploring, a focus we’ll weave through this day is our changing relationships with our peers.


Today we’re up and moving again, back to the Divide, then continuing along the loop in a descent to Deer Lake.  On our last evening in the wilderness, we’ll reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re going, both on and off the trail. Our thematic focus this day, weaving into discussions and gratitudes, is our relationship with the natural world. We may celebrate this connection by sleeping under the stars in a circle!


We’ll rise and greet this final mountain morning, before packing up and heading down, rather steeply, back to the Sol Duc Trailhead. Aside from joyous conviviality and the tasks required to head out and home, this day will weave in the final aspects of any rite of passage: incorporation, taking in all we’ve experienced, considering how we’re changed, and how we might leverage our learning in our lives back home. We’ll also make time for a dip in magnificent Lake Crescent before before backtracking east to the ferry and Bellinghome. 

Note that the final aspect of an initiatory rite of passage is celebration! This trip is typically followed by a family potluck and slideshow of our trip - expect to work together to choose a date amenable to all!

Pick-up: Meet at Cascades Montessori Middle School, 2710 McKenzie Avenue, Bellingham. Time: 7:30PM. Directions.

Learning Outcomes: Lessons learned and concepts covered on this adventure include an in-depth exploration of all Wild Whatcom mottos, healthy and supportive interpersonal communication, Leave No Trace (TM) ethics, collaborative leadership development, positive and negative peer pressure, common sense camping, analyzing hazards and how to mitigate their risk, integrity, exploring how our thinking affects our reality, Native American history and ethnography, self care, ecology and botany of coastal ecosystems, multiple intelligence theory, wilderness awareness, river ecosystems, survival priorities, navigation, preparedness, wildlife and their adaptation to humans, working with and through fears, coastal weather systems, accepting and working with emotions, intermediate backpacking skills, practicing gratitude, the bridge of adolescence, understanding personal potential, and more!

Participant pre-trip questionnaire and tetanus immunization required to participate.

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