[2005 Young Explorer Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Honourable Mention]
An annual event, the three day Blue Mountain camping trip kept Tieka on a high for weeks. An event that only a select few were allowed to attend and she could not believe that she had been chosen!
When she arrived at the pickup area she saw that forty students were present, not including the coaches and other adults invited along for the excursion.
They arrived at Mavis Bank at five pm Friday evening, and Tieka, like all the other
newcomers, was bursting with the knowledge that she would finally experience
what she had heard about on numerous occasions. Next year she would be telling
During the seven hour wait they were instructed by Sean to repack in order to
make space in their bags to carry food, evoking complaints from
As the time drew nearer to 12 midnight, the departure time, the feeling
of anxiety and excitement intensified. They were put in three groups, and, armed
with flashlights, their only protection against the dark of night, they set off on their estimated six hour journey. They set off downhill and Tieka began to wonder if the
stories she had heard about the strenuous uphill climb had not been
exaggerated. The atmosphere was festive, filled with the sound of
laughter and chatter.
Their first obstacle was a river with only a fallen tree stretching from bank to bank, sparse boulders within their only means of reaching the other side. That hurdle
overcome, they began their journey uphill. Uphill and uphill and uphill they went,
and uphill still. The more they ascended the cooler the air got, cooling down their
tired, hot and weary bodies.
With each light Tieka saw, she hoped that they had reached. After the first
two hours, the realization set in that they still had a long way to go.
Leaving the houses and lights behind, the night sounds set in; the
rushing of a stream in the distance, the chirping of crickets, the rush of breeze
through the tall Willow and Spruce trees, the sound of dragging
feet – tired and weary.
After four hours, and without realizing it, Tieka began the climb of the famous Jacobs Ladder, a mini mountain in itself. With the faint light of the approaching dawn, the first trees that make the world renowned Blue Mountain Coffee were seen, and also the first set of signs to campers. Tieka kicked into autopilot, walking only because she knew that she had to, and, if she did not, she would be left behind, feeling like each step would be her last.
Almost at the top, she caught up with the others who had stopped at a lookout/rest spot overlooking Kingston. The view was exquisitely breathtaking; Kingston, Papine and miles of green lush coffee and other trees laying below, with the first ray of dawn barely touching the towns.
After a fifteen minute rest and snack break, they were all refreshed and rearing to go. Reaching the top of Jacobs Ladder, Breezy Gully was pointed out to them. Upon hearing that they had about 45 minutes, an hour at most, to go Tieka began to walk faster, anticipation giving extra strength.
“WELCOME TO PORTLAND GAP, bunkhouses to the left.”
Tieka could not believe it. She read the sign twice. With a burst of energy, all the previous
weariness was forgotten as she took off at a run. Reaching the bunkhouse, she was told to take a bed and fall in, and, after finding an appropriate bunk, she settled in.
“I made it, I reached,” thought Tieka, right before she fell asleep.
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