Friday, October 14, 2005
Hiking the Long Trail through Vermont
"I slept in shelters or along the trail," says Rolando. She describes the shelters, which total about 70 overall, as three-sided structures built by volunteers of the Green Mountain Club. Most nights other hikers were in the shelters, but Rolando slept five nights completely alone. The young woman wasn't sure of her pace so she had decided to make the trek on her own.
"It seemed doable," recalls Rolando. "I still didn't know if I would complete it. I didn't know if I would even want to because I never hiked a long way before." She had decided to embark on a long-distance hike on her own, and the well-marked trail looked perfect. Rolando enjoyed the spectacular views along the way, especially when she was "above tree line" and could take a 360-degree view of her surroundings. She loved meeting new people along the way. Although the hiker planned her route beforehand, she found she proceeded at a much faster clip. She finished four days sooner than planned even though she took two days off touring towns and restocking supplies. After one of those days, she experienced a low point, going through days of rain and knowing that no other hikers were around.
Her family in Carlisle, a mother and two sisters, supported Rolando's plans. She has a lot of experience in the outdoors and she brought along a cell phone to alleviate any concerns. Furthermore, Rolando completed a 12-week EMT course at Northeastern just before embarking on the hike. She has done a lot of camping in organized programs like Adventure Treks, spending about 20 days each time, for the past three summers. Here she did backpacking, rock-climbing, ice-climbing, and white-water rafting. Rolando graduated from Proctor Academy, a private high school in Andover, N.H. While there, she participated in a "Mountain Classroom" trimester in Joshua Tree National Park, where students slept in tents every night while completing course work during the day. She made the trip to the west coast for the course with two teachers and ten other students.
"I always wanted to be a Boy Scout, but I never could," Rolando quipped. She didn't participate in Girl Scouts. "I think Girl Scouts is progressing, but the things they were doing then just didn't appeal to me." She was more interested in building fires than making crafts.
Before the hike, Rolando wasn't sure what she would like to do in terms of a career. Today, she knows. She hopes to become an outdoor guide. She plans on taking the EMT certification in the next month, and hopes to pursue her studies at the college level.
"The best part was the end," says Rolando about her trip, "looking back and seeing what I could do." She has taken the road less traveled, and it has taken her life in a new direction.
© 2005 The Carlisle Mosquito