Girl’s Camp 2018
“We are doing Navajo Knobs,” Mercedes declared when she saw the list of possible hikes at the Girl’s Camp planning meeting. There was no question in her mind or in her voice. Navajo Knobs it was.
“Navajo Knobs?” I questioned. “Are you sure?” I hiked to Navajo Knobs only once before in my life and it was a brutal experience; almost 5 miles up across barren sandstone in blistering morning heat,,,and then 5 miles back down the even more blistering afternoon sun. And when I say up, I mean up. The ascent can seem endless.
I have taken students to the Rim Overlook, a destination about half way up the Navajo Knobs trail, on two separate occasions, both of which were also brutal. This first time I was Miss Noel, a new teacher at Ben Lomond High School. Bringing up the rear, I passed a personal message one of my students had penciled in the sand. “Die Noel!” it said. Yep. Brutal.
With full disclosure, the girls chose to do the Navajo Knobs hike. AWESOME!
Even before Girl’s Camp began the “8 mile hike” dominated their conversations. Excited and scared, they referenced it frequently.
We arose early the morning of the hake and were on the trail by 7 a.m. Grace, who turned 18 on hike day, was in front. Under direction from Bishop Ropelato, she significantly slowed her pace and kept the group together. Distracting them with songs and stories, she led the group up the mountain Though Grace was in front, it was a group effort. Tawny lured Steffanie up to the top with words of encouragement, sticks of gum, and promises of fruit drink mix. Gwen found cairns for Gabby. Bree, Faith, and Alia swapped tales of blisters, boys, and burgers as they talked themselves to the top.
Promising that no child would be left behind, I took the rear position. I knew all the girls could make it to the Rim Overlook. I also knew that not all the girls shared my knowledge. “I can’t go on,” I was told several times. But they could. And they did. We did. All of us.
It was a bit brutal. Blistering. Beastly. The cairn-marked trail across the bare sandstone slabs seemed endless at times and the sun was indeed relentless. It was not easy. In fact, it was hard. Dang hard. But we did it. All of it. All of us. Everyone made it to the Rim Overlook. For most of the girls it was the hardest thing they have ever done in their lives. Gabby, who has tried unsuccessfully several times to hike to the waterfall in Waterfall Canyon (a 3 mile “moderate” hike in Ogden”) made it to the top. Bree, who had never been hiking before, made it to the top. Emily, who knew she could not go on, made it to the top. We were there, together. And it was glorious.
The view was glorious too. Looking out over the rim, “the Capitol Reef National Park visitor center, Fruita orchards, schoolhouse, and campground—some 1,000 feet below—appear tiny and insignificant, while the 360-degree vistas reach as far as Thousand Lakes Mountain and the Cathedral Valley District to the north, Factory Butte and the Henry Mountains to the east, and Miners and Boulder Mountains to the south.” (https://liveandlethike.com/2014/12/21/rim-overlook-and-navajo-knobs-trail-capitol-reef-national-park-ut/)
Those girls own that mountain. . Some of the girls went on to Navajo Knobs (another 2.5 miles and 500 ft elevation gain) and some of the girls went down from the Rim. All of the girls won. For all but Grace (and maybe Mikayla) it was the hardest physical thing they have ever done. No one can ever take away from them the victory they earned on that hike.
The hike dominated conversation before Girl’s Camp. It will dominate post-Camp conversation as well. They will talk of their “8 mile hike” for decades to come. They know they can do hard things. And that knowledge is theirs forever.