I led my first winter TT this past weekend. Being from California, I had never worn snow shoes before, never been butt sledding, never camped in the snow, and never worn snow shoes before. How did this manifest itself in my hiking? I showed up in leggings and a sweatshirt, thats how. Of course, I had all the proper gear IN my pack, but it never crossed my mind that I might actually need it on my body for the hiking part. As I was a trainee “leading” the trip, I was at the front of the line, ready to take us up Mt Moosilauke. But 10 steps in, the trail disappeared. No one had dared break trail since the last snow, and now it was my job to lead us up a nonexistent path. I turned around and gave my “participants” a nervous glance. They, being full fledged leaders instructed not to offer help, grinned at me, their eyes dancing. “Okay!” I exclaimed, sounding much more sure of myself than I felt, “we’re going to play I spy: If anyone sees a white marking on a tree, shout it out!” After some time we were able to make out the remains of a trail in the form of snow drifts and I began to feel more confident.
In the span of 24 hours, I accomplished more new things and pushed myself farther than I ever though I could just that morning standing ankle deep in the snow before an invisible path. I owe so much of the success of my first year at Harvard to HOC it honestly scares me to think where I might be without them. The people I’ve met, the friendships I’ve built, and the mountains I’ve climbed have all had such an incredible impact on me. I have no doubt my memories from HOC will stay with me throughout my life and I so hope the same has happened for you. BIG HOC love <3 (ps. the attached photo is me during my very FIRST TIME seeing fall foliage!!!!)
Aurelia Balkanski (Class of 2023) has been leading with HOC since Fall 2019