By Paige Lester-Niles, Camp Director 

This summer Eagle’s Nest will celebrate 50 summers of leading Hantes! The first Hante began when Helen Waite headed out to the Appalachian Trail with a group of 13 teenagers carrying everything they needed in backpacks. Since then Hante participants have hiked thousands of miles on the Appalachian Trail, have rocked climbed, paddled and backpacked across the country, and have traveled to far away countries including New Zealand, Ghana, Scotland and Austria. 

As we prepare to celebrate 50 years of Hante trips we have been looking through old photos and slides. It’s been fun to see not only how styles have changed since 1972, but also to reminisce about the adventures we’ve had. 

As we studied some of the photos from our 2017 trip to the Pacific Northwest we noticed what we thought was a large hairy vine on one of the massive trees along the trail. Ed, our new Hante and Outdoor Program manager, who studied ecology while at Sewanee, was curious to know what kind of vine it was. “If this vine was in North Carolina, I think it would be pretty easy to assume it was a massive poison ivy vine, but poison oak is more prevalent in the Pacific Northwest” Ed said piquing our curiosity. Since the pictures were digital, we were able to zoom in on Michaela’s computer monitor to get a better look. It took us a bit to make out the shape in the distance, and even longer to believe what we were seeing. What we thought was a hairy vine, seemed to be a hair leg – a very LARGE hairy leg. 

Isa Satake, who had been a participant on that Hante, and who has just started working as the Whole Foods Program Manager at camp, happened to be in the office when we were looking at the picture. “You know, food kept going missing while we were on the trip. We joked that Finn and Griffin were stealing it. We didn’t really think that they would do that, but food was going missing. One night Daria also thought that she saw a really large bear, like – REALLY LARGE – running through the woods. Another time Levi thought he heard something breathing heavily behind him as he hiked up the trail. He kept looking back, but there was never anything there.” 

Andrew said that he had read about these strange occurrences in the Hante PNW Instructor journal. As the trip went on, there seemed to be more and more weird things happening on the trail. The instructors felt that the group was safe, but they couldn’t shake the feeling that the incidents were connected. 

Looking at the picture now, hearing the stories, and knowing the lore of the Pacific Northwest, I can’t help but wonder – had Sasquatch been tracking our group? Should we dig into photos from some of the other trips where mysterious things have happened? Andrew did have some pretty interesting stories from visiting Loch Ness in Scotland…