In the weeks leading up to this event, there was some doubt if Dudley would be able to deliver the ‘winter’ into the 2011 Winter Leadership Trip as promised. When the boys piled off the train at the Westport Depot on December 26th, the sun was shining, the lake was unfrozen, and the grass on main campus was green. Despite the unseasonably warm weather, spirits were high, the boys were pumped to be at Camp in December, and they were all ready to embark on an adventure. The sunshine did not last long. Trip leaders Scott Steen and Ryan Joyce had just driven down from Lake Placid, with good reason to believe that in just 24 hours there would be a full-blown blizzard in the Adirondacks. They were right. The next day brought heavy rain, sleet and snow.
The first leg of the trip involved winter hiking, camping and snowshoeing into John’s Brook Lodge in the High Peaks of the Adirondacks. Trip participants Jack Butler, Andrew DiLillo, Mike ‘Mad Dog’ Griffin, Adam Fraites, Will Lowe, Ryan McSherry, Ian Meier, Scott O’Brian, Jake Refojo, and Matt Wojciechowicz began the initial 3-mile hike under mid-morning snowflakes. Joined by veteran winter ADK 46er and Dudley alumnus, Paul Adams, the 12 men set up camp, splitting the group into the Goodwin Lean-to and the Grace Cabin.
The next day, the team hiked both Yard and Big Slide mountains on snowy and icy trails, and were rewarded by a break on the summit. The biggest challenges were icy trails and half frozen river crossings. That afternoon, each participant did a solo hike, walking the final 3 miles in the falling darkness by themselves out to the car.
The following day, the boys participated in a community service project with local Westport organization, Champlain Area Trail Systems. CATS builds and restores hiking trails in the Central Champlain Valley and works to conserve wild land through land easements. The Dudley group joined CATS Director, Chris Maron, for a day of trail maintenance on the Split Rock area trail system between Essex and Westport. The big challenge of the day was removing a giant windfall tree blocking the way. The group spent the night winter camping, sleeping at the Cutler Point Lean-to with single digit temperatures and a very clear starry sky. The fire was kept roaring all night long.
The final day of the trip, and the highlight for many, was ice climbing at a private ice park under the guidance of Adirondack Rock and River. Temperatures dipped just low enough to allow for the use of the private ice park, and the boys spent the day testing their skills with ice tools and crampons against the ice covered cliffs. There were 3 separate top-roped climbs, allowing everyone to fully exhaust himself by trying them all a few times.
Every member of the 2011 Winter Trip was required to be a part of a ‘leader of the day’ team, taking the reins on group safety, all food (12 boys eat a lot) for 3 meals, group time management, and a group vesper. Each young man got to take responsibility for the well being of the trip, experiment with different leadership styles, observe their peers and trip leaders under similar conditions, and to entertain these ideas in several lengthy vesper discussions. The boys did an amazing job with these tasks, worked hard and had a blast along the way. Congratulations on an amazing trip.
Here’s a video slideshow featuring more pictures from the trail…