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 The Trek: The Journals

•
Team: South
Jessica Terrell
Tuesday, September 17
My "Favorite" Day
Before the trek I had never been farther west than Kansas City, Missouri, so every point on the map so far has been a new experience. Even though each bend in the road offers some exhilarating new sight, I still find myself comparing the trek to other journeys in my life, such as my two trips to Australia. I have been to five of the seven states in that country, and I can rattle off the names of my favorite places as quick as can be. But the trek is different. How? During my trips to Australia and on numerous family vacations throughout the years, I’ve always been able to pinpoint that one particular location as my favorite. But out here, in the American West, I am taking in new sights on a daily basis. In these last few days of the trek, I’ve been thinking about what my favorite spot would be. I think back to places like the fog over Snow Lake, sunrise over the Grand Canyon, and sunset at Lake Powell, and I realize that I am comparing apples and oranges. Ask me about my favorite body of water along the route, my favorite mountain, my favorite hike or drive, and I can answer that. I know that when I return home, friends and family will be asking “So what was your absolute favorite place on the whole trek?” What will I tell them? I will start out by saying that every day inevitably seemed better than the last. “Seemed” is the key word, you must realize. If I were to mix up all the days of the trek and do it all over again, each new day would never cease to “seem” better than the one before it! So I have come to the conclusion that TODAY will always be my favorite. The dawn of each new day has and will continue to reveal to me things that have never before occurred, and never will occur again, whether it be a beautiful cloud formation over a particular mountain, the call of elk on a cool morning in a national forest, or even the way rocks glitter in the brightness of the afternoon sun.

I have been thinking a lot about this “favorite place” question today in particular because I am once again astounded by what is around me. This morning we left behind those chubby, pear-eating horses at Fruita Campground (Capitol Reef National Monument) and headed to the Fishlake National Forest. The day was sunny and I wished for my sunglasses, lost long ago somewhere in the Gila National Forest. However, I never complain about too much sun, because sun means heat, and heat means warmth! It is getting to be nice and crisp not only at night, but throughout the day as well, so I, much like a lizard, bask in the sun whenever possible. As I knelt down to pack my gear at Fruita, I knew I would miss the lush carpet of green grass that was so unexpected the afternoon before. I could have buried my fingers and toes in it for at least one more day!

An hour later, driving into the mountains once more, green grass was the last thing on my mind. Images of all shades of aspen and the greenest of evergreens surrounded me. Trusty team leader Bob led us to a tiny dirt road that wound its way up and out of site onto Thousand Lake Mountain. I saw the sign that said “Elkhorn Campground – 8 miles” and I knew we had made it to one more destination on the trek. But the ATV riders at the bottom of the hill gave us strange looks as our six-car caravan passed by. They were parking their vehicles at the bottom and appeared to be planning to ride up on their ATV’s, making our attempt seem foolish. What could I do but follow? Bob certainly wasn’t stopping, and I didn’t want to get lost. Actually, by this late date in our journey, we had long since abandoned the thought “Can we make it?” and replaced it with “Take my picture so I can show everybody at home!”

Twenty minutes later we had conquered the mountain path and arrived at Elkhorn Campground, over 9,000 feet above sea level (at least that’s what Bob’s digital altimeter on his Swiss Army knife said). Much like my experience at the Grand Canyon, my eyes were not capable of absorbing the sights around me, yet at the same time, I’ll never forget it. Not quite at the mountain’s peak, the clearing our camp was to be located in had a view unlike any I had seen before. The image before me seemed so sharp and vibrant. The sun shone down on each and every aspen leaf as they were tossed and turned on their stems by the never-ending breeze, while the velveteen evergreens stood tall and strong. The Honda CRV parked nearby could have been an advertisement in a magazine. Now I know why car commercials take place in such beautiful places! As I looked for a spot to set up camp, I wanted my tent to be in just the right place, and after dodging a few fresh cowpies, I found that spot. Little did I know that dodging those cowpies in the middle of the night to reach the pit toilet would be an adventure on its own!

The sun became so warm that I couldn’t bear to sit inside my tent, so I pulled my sleeping bag out onto the ground. It needed airing out anyway, so I lay there in my sock feet and chatted with Jake, whose tent was nearby. We talked about how we would describe places like this to our friends and family. How is it done? Coincidentally, Jake was writing to his family at the time (which is posted as one of his journal entries), and he read me a bit of the letter. His words made me smile, but they brought tears to his eyes. Indeed, the trek had been a growing, learning, adventurous and wonderful time, and he found some of the words to describe it. I could not have been more inspired as I lay there looking at some of the most beautiful public land in our country, and in one of the easiest places to reach for most people, not far from Interstate 70 and some major towns in Utah. I wanted to climb that mountain, but how could I do it when I couldn’t tear my eyes away long enough to move? I think I lay there in that spot for three hours or more, at least until dinner, not wanting to miss an instant. The way I felt that day will forever be etched into my mind and soul. I will come back to this place someday. I will climb the mountain. It will be the same yet different. Today, at Elkhorn Campground, was my “favorite” day on the trek!
for Tuesday, September 17
North South Both




Biographical
•
Team: South
Jessica Terrell
LM-jessicahorse04-08.jpg

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List of All Journal Entries
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Friday, November 15
Jessica Terrell
National Trails Symposium
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Sunday, October 27
Jessica Terrell
Meeting Team North
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Saturday, October 26
Jessica Terrell
The Finals Days...
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Thursday, September 19
Jessica Terrell
An Eye-Opening Experience
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Wednesday, September 18
Jessica Terrell
Days and Days of ATV's
   >> more...

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Tuesday, September 17
Jessica Terrell
My "Favorite" Day
   >> more...

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Friday, September 6
Jessica Terrell
Tour of Glen Canyon Dam, Hatch River Expeditions, and Lee’s Ferry (Lonely Dell) and the Houseboat!!!
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Monday, September 2
Jessica Terrell
Grand Canyon, North Kaibab Trail
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Sunday, September 1
Jessica Terrell
Grand Canyon, Phantom Ranch
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Saturday, August 31
Jessica Terrell
Grand Canyon Day 2
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Friday, August 30
Jessica Terrell
South Rim, Grand Canyon
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Monday, August 26
Jessica Terrell
Grand Canyon Sunrise
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Sunday, August 11
Jessica Terrell
Snow Lake
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Wednesday, August 7
Jessica Terrell
Silver City, NM
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Saturday, August 3
Jessica Terrell
Location: Lake Valley, New Mexico
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Thursday, August 1
Jessica Terrell
   >> more...

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Wednesday, July 31
Jessica Terrell
   >> more...








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