I was just perusing my students’ blog over at Ecology Project International and I was so impressed by their writing, thoughts and insights into this adventure. I experienced what I like to call the “teacher warm and fuzzies.” It’s these rare moments (ok maybe not that rare but go with me on this) where you witness your students in all of their glory and you are just so proud and inspired by them. And then, you come across this line, “our reasonably fit, if middle-aged teacher.” What?!
Aw crud, she’s right. I am middle-aged. I don’t even know when that happened. Last I remember I was living it up in my 20’s and now somehow I’m teaching students that weren’t even born when I was partying like it was 1999. Literally, they weren’t born in 1999, they will never get to party like it’s 1999. I bet Prince didn’t see that coming. I didn’t see it coming, that’s for sure.
Yesterday we headed out on our second cougar transect in the Lamar Valley area of Yellowstone. This transect required hiking/climbing/crawling up to a 7000’ peak into prime cougar territory. To do this we had to break through sun-crusted snow up to my thighs wearing three layers and carrying a weighty pack. The group started off exuberantly, chattering and practically skipping up the mountain. But soon, packs formed. There was the We Have Long Legs pack, the We Get Easily Distracted And Wander Off pack, and the OMG I Don’t Think I Can Do This pack. Can you guess which one I was in??
At about 6500’ I had what I can only assume was a small myocardial infarction or a cramp. Either way, I’m sure I nearly died and as I gasped for breath and looked up at the peak with drifts of snow around me, I contemplated laying down in the snow and waiting for death to rescue me. Rescue came in a different form, a tiny, barely 100lb form, also known as Kendra.
Kendra joined up with me and took the lead, this little sprite broke snow so I could follow in her footsteps. Sometimes, she’d plunge so deep she’d end up laying in the snow and have to fight to right herself to keep going. Each time this happened I’d think, “I should take the lead and break the snow except I can’t because I am old and weak and dependent on my pack for survival.”
We made it to the top of that mountain. I collapsed next to a bison patty (what was he doing up this high, clearly suffering from dementia) and ate my lunch. PB&J on multigrain bread with trail mix never tasted so good. We celebrated our ascent to this summit by playing in the snow, one is never too old to play in the snow. So maybe I am middle-aged, but dang it, I made it to the top and I wasn’t even the last one down – I still got a little juice left in me yet!
Stay tuned to read about our next adventure, perhaps you caught the foreshadowing in this post? What pack will you be in?
About this Blog:
I am a former Teachers for Global Classrooms Fellow, a program of the U.S. Department of State. I have completed graduate level training in Global Education and traveled to Senegal in April with the program to explore their educational system. This blog is a piece of the global education guide I have created to support other teachers and students in globalizing their classrooms. My focus area is life and environmental science and understanding the interconnectedness of Earth. For more information on the fellowship please visit the IREX website.