Spring Break Patagonia: Falling Off The Grid and Becoming Leaders

By Christine Groesbeck, Class of 2018

By Christine Groesbeck, Class of 2018

Over the spring break, 16 Boothies embarked on a hiking expedition in Chilean Patagonia with NOLS, an organization that has been providing experiential leadership and wilderness training to students worldwide since 1965. Our group had a variety of reasons for signing on to the trip. Some wanted to learn proper Leave No Trace backpacking skills, others wanted to meet new Boothies in a smaller group setting, and a few of us signed up solely because Patagonia was high on our bucket-lists. 

The reality of the trip set in sometime between the hours we spent at REI poring over the extensive equipment list and the moment we tried to lift our heavy backpacks for the first time. We left our phones behind for a week off-the-grid and boarded a bus to the Cerro Castillo National Reserve. We were joined by three knowledgeable instructors who taught us everything from how to safely scale a steep mountain slope, to how to make some of the world’s best “camp-stove” pizza.

A magical moment under the stars. Photo Credit: Gustavo Centeno

A magical moment under the stars. Photo Credit: Gustavo Centeno

We hiked over two mountain passes, forded rivers and bushwhacked around waterfalls. The NOLS curriculum fit in seamlessly and we had the opportunity to set personal goals and take on leadership roles to ensure our group would successfully complete the course. We spent our last night in the backcountry on a local farm enjoying a traditional Chilean asado, or barbecue, and learning about the regional culture

Arriving back at the basecamp was bittersweet. Showering for the first time in seven days felt amazing but we were sad to say goodbye to our expedition family.

We headed home with a new appreciation for the power of nature and fond memories from one of the most challenging, rewarding and fun weeks of our combined Booth experiences.