2011 Arbor Montessori Backpacking Trip

Now that it’s winter, we’re catching up on some past-due blog posts. Expect more stories about trips from the spring and summer of 2011 to be posted in the next weeks.

The Big Picture: In April 2011, Sure Foot took a group of 8th grade boys on a 3-day backpacking adventure before their graduation. We completed the 13-mile Jacks River Trail loop (including 16 river crossings) in barely 3 days. We had superb weather and were even able to take a dip in the icy cold Jacks River water. Because these young men were so experienced in the woods, Tyler and I (the Sure Foot guides for this trip) were able to help them have many adventures that would be beyond other groups.

Our Adventures…

Hiking: These young men were athletic, hard-core hikers. When I gave them the choice of a short first day or a long first day, they chose the long hike. Though we barely arrived at our campsite before dark, they were strong hikers – even with 25 lb packs!

Tree Climbing: I had been talking up my “favorite climbing tree in Georgia” from the moment we stepped onto the trail. This 70 ft hemlock tree has recently become infested with the wooly adelgid, which will slowly kill it. But for now, I love this stately tree, which allows you to safely climb over 60 ft into its canopy.

River Crossings: This trail has 16 river crossings – and no bridges. Though we’ve hiked this route in late fall and early spring, April is a great month to do it because your feet don’t get quite so cold. Though we all picked up walking sticks to help ourselves cross the river, everyone was very self-sufficient and sure-footed. (Though, of course, we each took an accidental dip at some point.)

Fire by Friction: Tyler taught the boys and me how to make fire by friction. On our second night, we were able to avoid using matches or lighters to cook our meal.

River Exploration: Our our second campsite, the boys spent hours exploring the river, building bridges from logs, and hopping from rock to rock. I, however, was the only person willing to jump into the river on our cold third morning!

Graduation: Each of our participants graduated from Arbor Montessori School this spring. I hope they can use these photos as their graduation shots…


If I could sum up this backpacking trip in three words, they would be: relaxing, adventurous, and varied