Shubhda Hirawat, Class of 2020
Typically, when you hear spring break- it sounds like white sandy beaches, sunglasses, lazing with a side of margarita pitchers. That’s exactly what it was not for 21 of the ‘we will take the road less traveled’ Boothies who decided to go to Patagonia to hike in the wilderness for 6 days. To be fair, we spent a day in Santiago with Pablo Neruda’s poetry and glasses of Chilean wine but that sadly (or purposely!) lasted only a few hours.
Last minute cancellations due to visa delays and missed flight connections were only the beginning of the adventures to come. This one was a trip full of hugs, tears, willpower, resilience, and friends who will last a lifetime.
The Booth Wilderness Expedition, as it was called, began with 3 hours of packing everything we needed for ‘survival’ in the wild. And we needed a ton! We packed stoves, sleeping bags and tents, as well as trail mix (our staple for the next week) and hot chocolate for rainy days. Each of us carried 50 pounds on our backs, a weight that literally weighs us down. With a Booth chip on our shoulder, we embarked on what was to be the ‘trip of our lives’.
Day 1 involved getting us used to our 50-pound backpacks, with only 200 meters of hiking that took us over 10 minutes. The day introduced us to the most important lesson of the trip – poop-in-the-wild etiquette. The task was codenamed ‘desire’ in the Booth Patagonia community, and if you know when each person on your team is ‘fulfilling’ their desire- you are best friends overnight!
Next morning was about desires, snacks on the go and preparing for hours of hiking. We walked through grasslands, farmlands, forests, and rivers. Falling into the river and breaking trekking poles in the first 10 minutes of hiking was not something we were expecting, but when does the wilderness behave as expected? We hiked in wet boots through the day, drying our feet, socks and boots in the bright sun every break (which were far too often!). Day 2 was a long, arduous yet scenic walk and we thought it couldn’t get much harder (ha!). The end of the day saw us chatting over hot meals and drinks (tea, not margaritas) and bringing the day to a close.
Tuesday, March 26 remains stamped in our memories as the hardest day of the trek. Steep inclines and bushwhacking would be kinder words to describe that day. We hiked on all fours, hanging onto shrubs, taking hours to walk 100-meter distances. The day also saw a bag roll down a hill, a friend slip (and hang onto another hand), torn pants, wounded knees, long hugs and real tears at the end. We sat watching the stars that night with the unspoken camaraderie, feeling warm, fuzzy and thankful for everything we had achieved that day.
Patagonia was the best decision for Spring Break for each of us. We came back with memories in tents, under stars, over hot drinks and a sense of common goal and achievement. There is only so much that can be said in 500 words, but if asked if I’d go through this again: yes, a 100 times over.