“This was an experience that I believe will shape who I am for the rest of my life. Before this, I had had no prolonged exposure to nature outside of the nearby parks in my hometown of Iowa City. Yet, in my time in the wilderness, whether in its high, sunny mountains or its shady valley forests, one thing became clear to me: we all share a profound connection with the Earth and our nation’s beautiful lands. Were it not for this trip, I feel I would barely know of it.
There was something awe-inspiring about it all. The trails we walked were ones walked by native inhabitants thousands of years ago. The wolf pack late at night (a rare experience even for the most seasoned of backpackers,) haunted us with their ghostly howling. After hiking three miles up a mountain on a hot day, we were greeted by the remote Siah Lake, whose cool surface is buzzed about by sapphire dragonflies. The list of such impactful experiences goes on.
By the trip’s end, there was one conclusion I’d reached that came as a great relief. For once I felt definitively that I knew what I wanted to do with my life. While I’d registered for university with the goal of becoming an English teacher, by the time the semester started I had changed to environmental science. I could not have gone out and gotten to know the wilderness in such a way without deciding that I wanted to dedicate myself to helping it in response.”
Sam has started as a freshman at the University of Iowa this fall. Best of luck Sam with your future endeavors!