August 30, 2021

Team conquers UWild’s longest backpacking trip

First Year Adventures hikers pose with the UW flag against a backdrop of trees, grass, and the trail.

The goal of UWild’s First Year Adventures is to provide an opportunity for incoming first year students to build community in incredible places. This year we stepped up the adventure, with six first-year students joining two student trip leaders, Mahika and Liv (both rising juniors at UW), on UWild’s longest trip to date. The team spent 10 days hiking the trails of Mount Rainier National Park.

During the expedition, the group hiked more than 50 miles and gained almost 18,000 feet of elevation while carrying everything they needed for the adventure on their backs! To put that in perspective, that elevation gain is akin to climbing the most popular route up TWICE! (To climb Mount Rainier from the Paradise Lodge side it is a 9,000 foot climb.)

A collage of four photos depicting a mountain with trees framing it, chocolate chip pancakes, an individual crossing a bridge over a river, and participants gathering around a picnic table smiling.

The first-year students came together from all over the country, and the only thing they had in common was that they were about to start their journey at UW together. On the trail they formed a bond through shared goals, physical and emotional support, and teamwork. One participant put it perfectly when she said, “The bonding we were able to do as such a small group was amazing. There wasn’t a night where we weren’t all laughing and learning about each other.”

This trip challenged everyone physically and mentally. All eight group members walked away from the trip with close friends and confidence they could take on even greater challenges in the future. As one participant said, “I learned about my limits, and a newfound desire to seek out more difficult activities.”

UWild is excited to offer similar opportunities in the future for students and other members of the UW community.

A group of First Year Adventures participants hugs one another on the trail while smiling.

All photos courtesy of Liv Sather.