During the October of 2017, I went on a hiking trip to Niigata with my grade level for the year’s expedition. Throughout the trip, we hiked, slept in tents, and did many outdoor activities. The main take away that I personally got from the trip was a new appreciation for nature as a whole and a more enthusiastic attitude towards spending time in the wilderness.
There is a large variety of things that I learned during this trip. Possibly the most important thing I learned is that I can be resilient, even in difficult situations and conditions, like in the cold and rainy wilderness of Niigata. Throughout the trip, there were many moments when I struggled, due to many challenges I faced, including the awfully muddy ground, the steep ups and downs of the hills, and the long hours hiking, however, I was able to push myself to move on and get through the problems. I believe that the environment my classmates and I were in allowed us to push each other and push ourselves to do more and to keep going further even when we were struggling. In addition to reliance, I also learned more about how I act in different types of social situations. Throughout this hiking trip, I was with my classmates in a very different environment than I am used to spending time in with them. This allowed for me to see how I act differently when in a classroom compared to when I am out in nature, even if I am with the same people. I found that being in wilderness allowed us all to communicate and connect more as a community.
Some of the challenges I faced during this trip are mostly challenges that I gave myself. During this trip, one of my main goals was to get out of my comfort zone, and I made sure to challenge myself, by always going up the steeper hill and offering to carry the heaviest part of the tent.
I developed my self-reliance by trusting myself and by acting and thinking more independently than I regularly would in my normal routine. I forced myself to rely less on the people around me, and instead trusted myself much more and worked through challenges more independently. For example, if I was struggling with building the tent or had trouble with balance while hiking, I would first try to solve the problem independently, instead of simply asking someone else to do it for me.
My role during this expedition was to be part of a team. I was one of the 16 in my hiking group and one of 3 in my tent. Both groups were very different experiences, but in both, I was there to make sure that I could make everyone else enjoy the trip as much as they could. Over this trip, I feel that I have connected more now with the YIS community since I have been able to get to know so many more students.
Next time, if I were to go on this trip again, I would make sure to be more prepared for the extreme weather conditions. By this, I mean things like the temperature changes throughout the day as well as the freezing rain. I think that I had appropriate equipment and clothing, however, I do not think that I had mentally prepared myself for being so uncomfortable the entire week. Now that I have already done a hiking trip like this and have had this experience, I would be much more prepared to do it again.
I think that this experience has made me feel much closer to the wilderness and nature in general, since I have now spent much more time completely in it, and have focused on it much more.