JAN. 18, 2019
One of the greatest struggles of Outdoor and Experiential Education is working to explain to others the benefits and outcomes for students learning in these types of environments. Often this industry must turn to studies, surveys and personal accounts as a means of delivering “results” to parents or prospective students. But beyond these studies and quantifiable facts are more interpersonal results that are hard to set to data points or graphs.
At Eagle’s Nest Foundation, our focus is on educating the Whole Child and our wilderness programs allow us to incorporate many of the educational pillars of our teaching philosophy into real life, natural consequence learning moments. A large aspect of our program focuses on community and intentional living. With trips like backpacking or paddling, participants are challenged to work together in ways the positively support and uplift one another. Typical everyday tasks, like basic communication skills, are put to the test when navigating rapids, or even the best way to cook backcountry curry. Where participants would normally have the ability to dry off in the dorm or cabin after a rain event, the backcountry participants are challenged to think through every aspect of how they will take down a tent without swamping their sleep systems. Beyond this level of heightened consequence and challenge for thought and follow-through, participants learn what it truly means to perform a task to a level of expertise that shows mastery and craft.
Instructors with Eagle’s Nest focus on the development of participants both in their technical skills and their interpersonal growth. We have come to learn that by supporting youth in their basic needs, as outlined by Maslow, we can set a basis of support that allows participants to step beyond their comfort zone and fail, with the knowledge that our staff and instructors are there to help guide the experience in a positive way. In many ways, we feel that the backcountry is the ultimate test to the participants’ ability to show that they have learned and mastered skills. This is the environment where consequences are magnified, and dynamic aspects like weather, environment and the rigors of constant contact with the group allow the individual to develop tolerance for adversity and a greater intrinsic desire for success.
As an integral part of Eagle’s Nest’s mission, taking you into the backcountry identifies many important principles of wilderness programming that help us meet our educational goals.
When looking at a trip like Hante Rocks and Rivers, it is near impossible to imagine all the educational opportunities available to participants. Over the course of the 3-week adventure, participants learn the basics of camping skills like cooking and campsite setup, while also being challenged by more technical skills involved with whitewater canoeing or rock climbing. Then, as they begin to master basic camping skills, those skills are put to the test as they move their group into backcountry travel, or whitewater canoe trekking.
It is through this connection to one another and the outdoors that will help participants grow to appreciate the natural world around them, and work to preserve these spaces for future generations.
By Marlin Sill
MAY. 3, 2017
Stretching 1175 miles across the state of North Carolina, the Mountains to Sea Trail (MST) is as unique as the landscape it traverses. From its western-most point in Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the eastern terminus on the Outer Banks, the MST crosses four national parks, three national forests, and two wilderness areas. Driven by a large network of volunteers, the trail has been a work in progress since 1977. As of 2016, nearly 700 miles of footpath are complete. The rest of the trail is temporarily made up of backroads and community bike paths and greenways.
If you call North Carolina home, the MST isn’t far from where you live. Here are some highlights and favorite hikes across the state.
1. Clingman’s Dome
The MST’s western terminus stands at 6,643 feet and is the highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
2. Mt. Mitchell
A short spur trail off the MST takes hikers to the summit of 6,684 ft. Mt. Mitchell, the tallest mountain east of the Rockies.
3. Linville Gorge
Often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the East”, Linville Gorge is a rugged wilderness area known for spectacular rock climbing and hiking.
4. Stone Mountain
Hike to the top of a massive 600 foot granite rock face and enjoy views of a 200 foot waterfall.
5. Hanging Rock
Known for its sheer cliffs and rocky summits, Hanging Rock State Park is a favorite for local climbers.
6. Watershed Lakes
The MST connects six different footpaths around three lakes near Greensboro: Lake Higgins, Lake Brandt, and Lake Townsend.
7. Falls Lake
More than 50 miles of the MST winds around farmlands, through hardwood forests, and along the shores of Falls Lake just outside of Raleigh.
8. The Neusiok Trail
The MST follows the Neusiok Trail for more than 20 miles through Croatan National Forest, which is known for Loblolly Pines and swamplands.
9. Cape Hatteras National Seashore
This section of the MST is almost completely a beach walk that covers 113 miles across Cape Hatteras National Seashore. As an added bonus, hikers can climb to the top of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse between April and October.
10. Jockey’s Ridge
This 140 foot sand dune (tallest in the Eastern US) is the eastern terminus of the MST.
To plan your own adventure on the Mountains to Sea Trail, check out an interactive map of the entire trail here.
Liz Snyder, Assistant Camp Director
APR. 21, 2017
A key piece of equipment for any outdoor enthusiast is the rain jacket. Every Hante Participant will need one. The right jacket will last you much longer than any one Hante and will be handy in your everyday life too. So let’s take a look at picking the right one for you.
First off, you should always make sure the jacket is labeled as “waterproof” and not “water-resistant”. Resistant fabrics will end up saturating with moisture in anything more than fog. Waterproof jackets may include numbers like 10K (10,000) or 25K (25,000). This number refers to the millimeters of water required to seep through 1 square inch of fabric. The higher the number, the more pressure the fabric can withstand, i.e. the more waterproof it is. 10,000 is the lowest recommended for moderate to heavy rain. Currently the industry leader in waterproof technology is Gore-Tex. Jackets with Gore-Tex Fabrics are always a good choice, but tend to be pricier since you are paying for a premium brand. That said, most jacket manufacturers have their own technology at a lower price point. For example: Patagonia makes waterproof items with Gore-Tex Fabrics but you will find other jackets with their “H2NO” fabrics at a lower cost.
Next you will want to look at the breathability of the jacket. A waterproof jacket won’t keep you dry if it traps in all of your body heat and turns your torso in to a sauna. Along with the waterproof rating you may also see a breathability rating. These ratings tend to vary more widely across the industry. Read the tag of the jacket to see how the company measures breathability. For summer treks you will want a jacket that is more breathable to allow heat and evaporation in the jacket to “breathe out” of the fabric. Gore-Tex generally has above average breathability. Vent and “pit-zips” help with breathability. These options tend to be available on technical shells where the wearer exerts high energy and needs to “dump” heat from the jacket. If you’re backpacking in the wet summer months, these features are great! Remember to make sure that the zipper on your jacket are either waterproof (they have rubber sides and might be harder to zip) or have a fabric covering to prevent moisture from seeping through the zippers.
Finally, you’ll want too look at fit, weight and insulation. Summer travels will want to look for a lightweight waterproof “shell”. These tend to weigh less, pack down small and have little to no insulation to prevent heat buildup and keep you cool when it’s hot. Shells should be a bit loose to allow airflow. You can also put warmer layers under a loose shell in the cooler months. When you try on jackets, raise your arms over your head to test coverage. A pro-tip for climbers/backpackers: look for pockets that are placed higher on the torso to allow you to keep your hands warm and in your pockets while wearing a backpack waist strap, or while you’re waiting in line to climb.
To wrap up, there are many, many jackets out there and finding the right one can be tough, but the right rain jacket can work for so much more than just rainy days. Most rain jackets are generally windproof and will help cut the chill on windy days while simultaneously offering protection from wetter elements. Jackets can also work to keep warmth in when layered underneath as the temperatures drop. My recommendation is to find a shell with a high waterproof rating, pit-zips, and a slightly loose or athletic fit. This will be very versatile. You may also consider purchasing rain pants. Keep in mind that in the heat of the summer rain pants tend to be very steamy. Look for brands with lifetime guarantees. They will be more costly upfront but in the long run they will last longer and should be able to be replaced if necessary.
P.S. Don’t forget to read the washing/care instructions. Many waterproof fabrics are now fine for the washer and dryer. Following those directions along with the use of approved cleaners and “re-waterproofers” like NikWax products, will keep your jacket fresh and dry for many years to come.
Marlin Sill, Hante Director
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. 31, 2017
Hante Adventures is thrilled to announce that our 2018 season will be out of this world. Literally. Next year, we’re adding new meaning to our mantra “Step Out and Learn” with Hante Moon. During Session II, a group of 8 adventurous teenagers and 2 instructors will blast off into Outer Space for what will truly be a once in a lifetime experience.
Hante Director, Marlin Sill, is especially excited about this opportunity. “In an effort to reach new heights, we’ve decided to go farther than any other adventure program has gone before. This will be one small step for the Hante program, and one large step for travel programs world and galaxy-wide,” he said on Friday.
Marlin is working closely with the founders of SpaceX to arrange travel to and from Outer Space. While this adventure is still in the planning phase, participants can count on long lunar walks, crater exploration, Earth gazing, and a day swapping stories with the Man in the Moon himself.
Considering the history of the program, it’s no wonder Hante Adventures will now offer intergalactic travel. Hante began back in 1973, when a group of teenagers embarked on a journey on the Appalachian Trail. Led by Helen Waite, they trekked over 100 miles through the Great Smoky Mountains, including a climb up the highest point on the AT, Clingman’s Dome. Since that adventure 44 years ago, Hante has traveled to six continents; an expedition to the moon is the logical next step.
More details, including registration information and a preliminary itinerary can be found here.
Liz Snyder, Assistant Camp Director
FEB. 20, 2017
Sometimes it’s the fear of missing out that keeps you from trying something new. And other times it’s the fear of the unknown. Stepping out of one’s comfort zone and accepting that which we cannot control is one of the greatest lessons in life. Failure is an innate part of learning and growth; discovering our limits while honing our successes is a key aspect of our development. Too often we hold ourselves back for fear that the road ahead may be difficult, that we may feel embarrassed along the way, or that we may realize that we fall short of our expectations.
It can be hard to imagine yourself on a Hante but these are accessible adventures designed to develop leadership skills for anyone with a serious interest and a deep level of commitment. This year, Hante Trails aims to bridge the gap and make the leap a little smaller. By cutting back on backpacking and instead spending more time immersed in the forest, there will be increased opportunities to connect with the natural world without too many added distractions. Because the first three days will be spent base-camping in Pisgah Forest you won’t feel rushed to learn map and compass skills or fret about cooking dinner in a timely manner. Once you become comfortable with the basics you can help serve the forest by removing invasive plants or building trails, skills that allow you to connect with the earth, while still returning to “base-camp” each afternoon.
But no Hante is complete without its capstone challenge! Your final five days will be spent backpacking a shortened trek either on the Appalachian Trail or Art Loeb. With shorter mileage per day you’ll be able to enjoy the sport of backpacking and feel confident about returning to camp to have dinner ready by a reasonable hour. With six days to practice your camping skills, the addition of backpacking will feel like nothing more than a hike through the woods surrounded by spectacular views.
Thinking about joining a Hante is easy but making the decision to commit can be tough. It’s the moment when you have to let off the clutch and engage the transmission. With a few deep breaths and a positive mental attitude anything is possible. Believe in yourself and trust the program—take that little leap and come see what you can do! Who knows, maybe you’ll even surprise yourself.
Marlin Sill, Hante Director