A day I hope I never forget…
By Lindsay Harmon
It was late Friday night and I was finishing up work as a trip leader for a late-night climbing trip. I was ranting to a friend I met at the climbing gym over a year ago about some emotions I couldn’t keep to myself. She listened effortlessly. I knew I had a long ass day ahead of me, so I sent it home and set my alarm for a crisp 7:30am as my second trip of the weekend would need an early start in a few short hours. This was the beginning of one of my favorite days of the year.
I emerge from a night’s sleep that was just shy of being enough. Exhausted I open the weather app on my phone and check on the other trip leaders to make sure everyone’s awake. This is what I saw.
Meet Sara and Sam. These two buffoons and I met in very different ways, but are two of my closest companions at Tulane. I was so happy to get to spend the day with them. We were ready for an adventure, to say the least. I made my coffee and biked to Reily (our campus rec building) precariously holding an open mug of hot coffee to revive myself into this new day. The clouds were thick, but the air was sooo calm.
Sam, Sara, and I meet for the first time in a panic as we realize we must work a lot faster if we hope to be ready for our participants to arrive in just one hour. Running around Uptown, we get the various vehicles and trailers needed for the paddling trip. My favorite part of this process was certainly my time I spent in the elevator of the parking garage with a girl with whom I quickly became very emotionally involved with. Headed to the third floor, the elevator shifted weirdly and came to a stop. I looked over and my elevator mate told me she had a fear of elevators and this was very bad. I talked her through a tense few minutes as we stood there in the very VERY idle elevator. I told her not to worry and that we would get out of there any second. After what seemed like an eternity, the doors opened and we both sprinted out and never looked back. She thanked me and told me to have a great day…and a great day I continued to have.
The joyous moment of seeing the excited participants arrive in full force ready for a day on the river brought me a new wave of both energy to get going and anxiety that we would somehow f*ck up dramatically. We loaded all the boats onto the trailer (and one more when we realized we needed more space..) and strapped them in all safe and secure and what not. With no spare time for introductions and ice breakers, we agree to hit the road and make time for bonding later on. Drenched in sweat, we made our way to the cars and set out for our day.
Had to remind Sara to bring the Medical Kit, she always forgets it… smh.
A scene for you: me, driving down the highway in a pickup truck by myself with 10 canoes and kayaks strapped to a trailer hitched to the back, windows down, country radio blasting, men in trucks honking at me as they pass. That’s all you need to know about that. We arrive at the put-in spot on the Blind River, about 50 minutes away, and unload the boats now for the third time. With the boats in the water at last, the vibes became utterly sublime. Our participants could not have brought better energy to the morning as they were willing and happy to hop in and start MOVIN. I took the lead and paddled ahead, knowing vaguely the site of the destination. Making great conversation and feeling the cool breeze along the river, I was deep in my bag. For anyone who isn’t so hip, “being in your bag” is the proper way to describe the way you feel when you are fully yourself and are comfortable taking up the space you are. Being in your element, riding your own wave, these are the ways one might describe the feeling. I couldn’t help but think how lucky I was to be there and to have helped bring all of these new people together in a space as beautiful as a river in the middle of Louisiana. The clouds slowly melted away, and the sun shined brightly through the trees and onto the water. I spotted a blue heron flying down the river at about the same pace we were moving. If we were ever unsure of the direction of the river, we knew we could rely on our bird friend to show us the way. Moving around and mingling with the different boats, I met the people I was responsible for. I learned about the bird calling talents a boy was able to show off so many different calls, I learned about the future house some sophomores would soon move into, I learned about the favorite courses a new friend of mine was taking during her time at school, and I harmonized with the canoes closest to me. I told the story of how my pinky toe almost fell off my freshman year. It comes up every few weeks.
Found an abandoned campsite and stopped for lunch. Lunch being the soggy yet delicious vegetable wraps that Sam and I concocted the day before and a special surprise of Capri Sun that shot me way back to my childhood. Nothin like artificial strawberry and banana flavor to make me feel like a small child again. You know when everyone in the room is standing and you’re still sitting and it takes you a few minutes to realize they want you to also stand and leave? So that happened to Sara and me, as we could’ve posted up at this campsite all day, but clearly, we had to get moving.
The paddle back to the start point was easy and beautiful. Hung back and let Sam take the lead in this direction. Got some quality time to vibe and take in the peace of the water and of the kayak. We got to the start point, loaded up the boats once again, and hopped in the cars to make our way home. I drove with a newer friend of mine I had convinced to come on the trip, and we talked about our parents, music, being naked, normal things.
Got back to Reily and said an emotional goodbye to our participants. All grown up. Sara, Sam, and I were exhausted, but had to once again unload the boats and load them into the storage closet… We were tired and a bit delirious, but spent the next 2 hours putting everything in its place.
So normally this is where the story ends, but with this team, things were different. We couldn’t just end the day here. Our evening was just beginning.
Sam and I quickly bike to his home, drink some cold drinks, and hop in his roommate’s car as he drives us to the west bank to acquire food for the evening. Why did we go to the west bank for groceries when we had limited time to get ready? Good question. With no time to spare, we buy the groceries, drive back, divide up the work, and get cooking. The food hits the grill and a couple of other friends, including Sara arrive to the backyard to munch. I took a cold beverage for the shower and emerged to the backyard entirely in Sam’s clothes, ready for the night. A few hours go by and we fill ourselves completely with the foods and the drinks we somehow managed to pull together after the longest of days. We make plans for our next camping trip and we reminisce on the days we’ve known each other.
Some very late hour of the night:
We all fell asleep in different parts of Sam’s house, certainly still in the clothes we were wearing that night. The end.
I think it’s days like this one that reminds me how lucky I am to have the people and the opportunities I seek out in my life. I couldn’t have asked for better people to spend my entire day outside with. Sam and I like to talk about the direct correlation between our happiness and our time spent outside. This day is certainly the best example of how true this claim really is. I hope anyone who reads this feels entertained by my ridiculous obsession with my experiences this past Saturday, but also feels motivated to create their own memories in the outdoors. Even though times are tough, and we might have trouble gathering together in large groups, being outside is one of the few things that remains somewhat constant during a pandemic. Fill your time with people who lift you up and force the good energy of the outdoors into your life. I am so grateful to have Outdoor Adventures in my life at Tulane and I can’t wait to see the future of the program become reality.
About the Author:
Name: Lindsay Harmon
Year in School: Junior
Major: Environmental Biology
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Favorite Outdoor Activity: Hikin’
Favorite Camp Food: Quinoa with peanut butter and chocolate
Ideal Outdoor Adventure Trip Destination: Norway
If you were stranded on a desert island, what/who would you bring with you: Hummus and pita… and nothing else