DEC. 6, 2018
In the middle of the holidays I sometimes get caught up in trying to find the “perfect” gifts for my children, while at the same time realizing that I don’t really want to give them “stuff.” What I really want to give are experiences and opportunities for growth. I want to give them a chance to step away from the pressure of school and the world so that they can reconnect with what’s important to them, find joy and be inspired. For the last several years that perfect gift has been the opportunity to participate in a Hante Adventure.
I recently read an article that sighted a study from psychologists Ruth Ann Atchley and David Strayer who found that “creative problem solving can be drastically improved by both disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with nature.” Participants in this study disconnected from technology and headed out on a 4 day backpacking trip. When asked to perform creative thinking and complex problem solving tasks, the participants ability to do so improved by 50%. These findings are not at all shocking, nor or those of many other researchers who study the effects of time in nature on the brain, including Gregory Bratman, a graduate student at the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University. Bratman also found that study volunteers who went on brief, “disconnected” walks through the lush grounds of Stanford were more attentive and happier after their walks than their counterparts who walked through busy streets.
There’s no doubt that time in nature, removed from distractions and technology is good for our emotional health and can reduce anxiety and boost well-being. We see it in our campers and Hante Adventure participants each summer as they head to the mountains for 1 – 3 weeks to connect with nature, friends and to themselves. I see it in the joy on the faces in and the hearts of campers and staff as they return from a day hike at Black Balsam Knob or from 3 days with their X-craft class. I feel it when I talk with teens about their 3-week “Hero’s Journey” on Hante; they are all at once inspired and filled with peace.
So, this year as you think about what would make the perfect holiday and birthday gift for a special teen in your life, consider signing them up for a for a Hante Adventure.
By Paige Lester-Niles
APR. 20, 2017
Hante Appalachian Trail Trek circa 1980…
Hante Instructor Greg Kucera, Eagle Scout, prepares to lead his first Hante and is faced with the arsenal of whole foods recipes that Helen Waite has adapted for fine trail culinary experiences. Nowhere in sight was something he was familiar with to eat. What was a young man from Minnesota to do but call his mom Marti Kucera for her famous “Cow Dabs” recipe – known to get you down the trail several more miles.
Looking for a fun treat to take out on the trail this spring? Try these!
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 stick butter
1/3 cup evaporated milk
3 cups oatmeal
1 cup peanut butter
(add raisins, coconut, etc. as desired)
In a saucepan, boil sugar, cocoa, butter and milk for 2 minutes. Add oatmeal, peanut butter and any other personal choice ingredients. Plop spoonfulls onto waxed paper to cool and set (yes, they will look like cow pies). Plan at least a 5 mile hike and get out and enjoy!
Noni Waite-Kucera, Executive Director
MAR. 2, 2017
Some of the most memorable places I’ve visited make it to the top of my favorites because of the experiences I shared with those around me. On each trip I always took a moment to look around and notice the smiling faces and mouths agape in awe. I would think, “this place is wonderful, and it is so amazing to see my own joy, happiness, and excitement mirrored in the faces around me.”
On many of my personal trips I have found that company is always welcome. When I set out alone on an adventure I undoubtedly collect a friend or two along the way. These travel companions help strengthen my connection to the experiences I have and the places I visit. I even feel a distinct pride in revisiting my favorite places with friends or family who’ve never been. Witnessing their awe and wonder feels like experiencing the trip for the first time all over again.
You may understand the sentiment- the one of talking about camp with a friend and feelings so excited to see them on the first day or running up to them after Capture the Flag to hear their heroic tale. You may even know the feeling as you walk your parents around camp on the last day, recounting each day and every stand-out moment as you pass through the quad and OD Board and down to the garden.
This can be more difficult with Hantes. Every year there is a new and exciting mix of Hantes. Until you take the leap and understand what it means to “step out and learn” it can be hard to imagine how to share that with others. What sets Hante apart is that for those 2 or 3 weeks everything you do and see is shared with a small, tight-knit group of people. They will share the struggle of packing a wet tent, eating a burnt noodle and pulling their weight to see the valleys from the mountain tops. Those moments will become tales and epic stories to be shared with friends and family that others will sit and listen to in wonder.
Once the adventure is over it can be difficult to recreate the failures and triumphs for your friends. In truth, you will never be able to carbon copy your experience for others, but you can share the joy and satisfaction by taking them on the next one so they can see first hand. We are at that time of year when the leaves begin to bud and daydreams become warmer and lighter like the summer to come. Start thinking back to the summers past and how you want to spend this one, or if there is someone you want to share the magic of Hante with.
Hante has an instagram: @hanteadventures
Flip back through time and see the memories others have shared for over 40 years. You may even come across a familiar face, or even your own. Remember to share!
Marlin Sill, Hante Director
FEB. 3, 2017
Certain nostalgia hits me this time of year. Throughout the first months of 2015, I was very busy preparing for a northbound thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. My February days were spent gathering and testing gear, making plans for drop boxes of food along the trail, and preparing to move all of my belongings into a storage unit. Handling the logistics of a thru-hike is stressful, but I look back on it now and find myself missing the excitement I felt knowing that a great adventure was on the horizon.
To combat the bittersweet nostalgia, as well as the cold days of winter and dark events taking place in our world right now, I’ve been re-reading my journals and blog posts from my time spent on the trail. Remembering how it felt to live simply in the woods, to connect with an incredible community of people, and to realize that I was capable of more than I ever imagined brings me intense joy, even after the fact.
I wanted to share a specific post I wrote about magic. It’s a good reminder that wonderful, beautiful things are happening around every corner. It’s there waiting for us on trails, in our neighborhoods, and in chance encounters with strangers, but to experience that magic we must fully open our eyes and hearts.
April 14th, 2015:
Before I began this journey, I was told that the trail would give me exactly what I needed at precisely the right time. I assumed this meant I’d find rides into towns without much hassle, delicious food from strangers at road crossings, and kind-hearted gestures from fellow hikers. Each of these things has happened countless times over the past 2.5 weeks, but the magic I’ve encountered has far surpassed anything I could’ve dreamed.
After my last update, I climbed up and out of the Nantahala Gorge. The ascent was intense – nearly 16 miles of steady (and at times, very steep) uphill. I left the NOC in good spirits, but my mood quickly diminished as the day progressed. I thought maybe I was just hangry, so I ate and ate but my attitude remained sour. There were times during the hike that I had to bargain with myself to simply put one foot in front of the other. I’ve felt similarly on long training runs, but unlike those there was no opportunity to cut this day short. It was the toughest mental and physical day I’ve experienced on the trail thus far.
And then, magic came in the form of a new friend. I met Vulture at a shelter that afternoon, and we commiserated about our rough day and connected over our mutual love of the towns of Asheville and Boone, North Carolina. Vulture and I move at a similar pace and ended up hiking together for the next couple of days, including another tough climb from Fontana Lake into the Smokies. I don’t know if I’ll see Vulture again anytime soon, but her friendship came exactly when I needed it.
As a native North Carolinian, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’ve never visited Great Smoky Mountains National Park. That is, until hiking through it last week. My mind was blown! There is magic around every bend in the trail in the Smokies, and I feel fortunate to have been so intimately connected to that landscape for several days. Above 5000 feet, the forest morphs into a land of towering red spruce and Fraser fir. The air is thick with the fragrance of what I can only describe as “Christmas”. Most of the days I spent in the park were very wet and foggy, but there were times that the clouds lifted to reveal a blanket of mountains below me. Though the hiking was strenuous, I remained in high spirits as I moved through the forest and connected with a new community of incredible people.
I’ve also experienced an extreme amount of “traditional” trail magic over the past week. I’m constantly amazed by the number of people who give their time and money to feed, shuttle, and hang out with hikers. I’ve been given doughnuts, soda, veggie chili, brownies, Snickers bars, rides to and from town, and most importantly, the time and stories of many kind people. To each of you – THANK YOU for reminding me that people are so very good and for making me want to be better.
I also found magic as I walked into the town of Hot Springs, NC. I came to Hot Springs for the first time when I was in high school, and I was amazed by the fact that the Appalachian Trail ran directly through the heart of town. I saw people with backpacks and dreamed of being like them someday. Yesterday afternoon, “someday” became “now”. Dreams I’ve held onto for so many years are being realized each and every day, and there’s nothing that’s quite as magical as that.
Interested in spending time on the Appalachian Trail this summer? Hante Trails and AT Trek Virginia will give you the opportunity to experience trail magic firsthand. Very limited space is still available in both adventures – register today!
Liz Snyder, Assistant Camp Director
JAN. 17, 2017
We’ve all been hit with the monotony of life. The constant repetitive motions that we go through, and how, at times, we feel lost in the game and want to break the rhythm. We wake up every morning, just to lie back down to bed each night. We pick up our fork just to bring it back down to the plate for more. We fill up our car with gas, just to watch the needle fall back down again. From the surface this 1 dimensional up-and-down seems to hold no meaning.
At some point in High School Math or Physics we learn the translation of 1 dimensional linear movement to 2 dimensions. As you turn the frame on the point moving up and down you see the greater depth to the movement. Most often it is a circle or ellipse, and that point now moves clock, or counter-clockwise, around and around. What, moments before, seemed so monotonous, has rounded a corner creating rotation and gravity and depth.
Much of our life too has this depth beyond the linear ups and downs. Our feet moving round and round on the pedals, taking us up and over and across the streets, hills and mountains. Our legs pressing down on the earth and up on our bodies to move us up the rocks. Our arms reaching forward and back to catch the stroke and pull through propelling us down the rapids. Every moment of every day we make so many repetitive motions. Some small and some larger, and all seemingly monotonous on the surface, yet filled with meaning and drive, fueled by our needs wishes and desires.
And in those moments when you are down, it can be hard to see where you were when you were up. It can be hard to see the other dimensions to why we keep up the motions day after day. But I like to focus on what drives me and look beyond the linear tracks I have to take up and down, or side to side. I change the frame and decide what I want my day or week or life to rotate around.
Marlin Sill, Hante Director
DEC. 22, 2016
And do we have the pictures! This past year Melissa Engimann, our Foundation Assistant, has been on a massive archiving project spanning decade’s worth of Hante and camp slides and prints. She has painstakingly been going through each image and logging and filing it into long term storage. For Hante alone there are over 35 years of material, representing dozens and dozens of Hantes. From each box, memories from around the globe have emerged dropping us all back in time.
Are you a past Hante Adventurer? If so, dig out your photos and share them with us! We have a new Hante Instagram account (hanteadventures) which is a great place to gather those up and share amongst those of hundreds of other trekkers, paddlers and climbers. I guarantee you will get a good trip down memory lane! And, it will be fun project for the long nights we are having here at the Winter Solstice.
Canyon de Chelly in Arizona
Never been on a Hante but are curious about it? You can check out all the old school backpacks, see incredible places and lots of happy people – what could be better?
While you’re off in the digital world check our new Camp Instagram handle too! You can now find us at eaglesnestcampnc.
Hope to see your pictures soon!
Noni Waite-Kucera, Executive Director