A Day in the Life on a BOLT Backpacking Trip

Every BOLTer will have a chance to be leader of the day. The BOLT Leaders are there to provide support and guidance on the trip and when the group gets back to campus.

This is an example of a typical day.

Early morning: Today’s Leaders of the Day looked over the route last night and chose what time the group should wake up. We get up (remembering rules #1 and #2 of Expedition Behavior (a great article by Howard Tomb), half the group packs up the tarp while the other half takes down the bear bag and we make and enjoy breakfast.

Less-early morning: We hit the trail! As we hike we get to know the people around us, enjoy the scenery and play trail games. Today the trail is pretty steep, so we make sure to take water breaks frequently.

2   Lunchtime: We put our 40 lbs packs down and enjoy lunch! We found a spot just off the trail that has a beautiful view of the Presidential Mountains. Carrots, hummus, pita, apples, cheese, leftovers, and beyond all come out in a DIY smorgasbord. As we sit, the conversation drifts from our experiences and goals with the hike thus far to what we would like to get out of the upcoming year and our time at Brown. The leaders of the day gently remind us that it’s time to hit the trail yet again.

Afternoon: As we hike, we come upon a river that must be crossed. The BOLT Leaders tell the group about proper river crossing technique and how to find the best places to cross, and the Leaders of the Day talk with the group to make a plan to cross. We triumphantly make it to the otherside eagerly realize that we are approaching the camp.
  Late Afternoon: We make it to camp, set up shelter and cook dinner. Over mac and cheese we reflect on a challenging and satisfying day.
Late Evening: After a rousing game of telephone pictionary that has spawned a semester’s worth of inside jokes, we retreat into the warmth of our sleeping bags. The Leaders of the Day fill out the route log remembering the highlights of the day and recording new knowledge of the trail. Meanwhile tomorrow’s Leaders of the Day check out the route for tomorrow, pick a wake-up time, and as we fall asleep we look forward to another full day in the Whites!  



What can you anticipate with our annual backpacking trip?

Location: Our fall backpacking trip is based in the White Mountains National Forest, New Hampshire. Our hike group's travel a span of area covering the the Kinsman Range, Pemigewasset Wilderness Area, the Presidential Range and the Carter Range. The remoteness of our trip means that you will be exposed to one of the most beautiful areas of New England and it allows us to "unplug" from life back at Brown.    
Living conditions: We will sleep outdoors, set up camp and prepare our own meals. Along with having shorter hiking days or day hikes where we may plan a "day hike" without our packs, most groups experience 1-2 long physically demanding hike days. Each BOLTer and Leader is expected to prepare for the physical nature of the trip and to take good care of him or herself while on trail.   sleeping tarp
Weather conditions: In late August, the weather in the White Mountains can vary greatly.  In the White Mountains National Forest of New Hampshire, you will see cool nights (30’s-40’s) and warm afternoons (70’s-80’s).  It is usually 10-20 degrees lower in temperature in the mountains than the weather forecasts you will see in reported in town.  You should prepare for temperatures that can be as low as 30 degrees at night. You will be asked to pack clothing and gear that will help you to live outdoors for the week with prolonged exposure to a range of temperatures and weather conditions.  Staying warm and dry helps protect you from hypothermia, which is common in the summer months as people are not prepared for the combination of rain, cool temperatures and wind. Packing layers of clothing that help you to keep warm or allow you to change if you are wet from rain or river crossings will be a part of your efforts to be prepared for our backpacking trip. Please utilize our gear list and recommendations to help guide your efforts in this regard.   weather warning sign
Physical demands: For our backpacking trips, we aim to hike at a pace that allows the full group to stay together and able to converse. We are not hard core, by any means; however, this is a strenuous trip for many who participate. That said - If you are a trail god that summits peaks in your sleep -- you will be asked to challenge yourself by slowing down to focus on enjoying a new group of people and the view. We may hike up to 10.5 miles on we may just move camp 3 miles down trail. You will be carring a backpack weighing that may weigh up to or exceed 40 lbs over uneven terrain such as rocks, boulders, fallen logs, or slippery surfaces as well as ascending and descending mountain slopes that can include changes of about 3,0000 feet. Any efforts you can make for physical conditioning will allow you to enjoy the group and experience more.   hiking
Sample Menu: We cook as a group on small backpacking stoves with isobutane/propane canisters. Every has the opportunity to help in the kitchen with preparing meals. Breakfast items include bagels, pancakes, granola and oatmeal. Hot drinks (hot cocoa and tea) are essential for our mornings and evenings. Lunch consists of items that are easy to munch on during breaks such as peanut butter and jelly, cheese and crackers, fruit and GORP (each year's GORP recipe is a surprise, but nuts and dried fruits are common). Dinners have often included bean and veggie burritos, mac and cheese, stir fry vegetables with lentils and rice, chilli and corn bread, and the ever infamous brownie scramble. *Please inform us of any allergies that you may have during the pre-trip planning process; we make efforts to ammend the trip menu accordingly.   impshelter
Water disinfection: We disinfect all wilderness water with iodine, chlorine, chlorine dioxide, or by boiling.   river
Cell Phones: For this backpacking experience, we ask our participants to leave their cell phones home.  If you do choose to bring a phone, we ask that you keep it off and not call out.  This gives us time to form a community within the group, which central to our goals for this experience.  We want to focus on getting to know each other and expanding our network of connections and support on campus.  The experience of working together within a wilderness context separate of the clutter of technology is an important piece of the week we have planned. A leader in each hike group will have a cell phone for emergency purposes -either to send or receive a call or text, Cell service can be unreliable in the wilderness region that we will be hiking within due to terrain, atmospheric conditions, and other variables. Leaders are also provided with information regarding AMC radio locations to assist with communication to our basecamp or to emergency services.   mount carrigan
Wilderness Medicine: We will be traveling through remote locations which means that medical care may be significantly delayed based on group location, trail conditions, weather, amount of day light, availability of communication and the nature of the injury and evacuation. For this reason, each BOLT Leader has obtained their national certifications in Wilderness Medicine at a minimal level of CPR and Wilderness First Aid. Each group also has at least one leader that is certified at the Wilderness First Responder or Wilderness EMT level. Leaders are also supported by a base camp team consisting of a Brown University staff member and a volunteer group of past BOLT leaders or mentors. If a medical emergency occurs where additional local support is necessary, we can utilize a network of resources that includes the Appalacian Mountain Club (AMC), Lincoln Police Department, the White Mountains Ranger District staff or New Hampshire Fish & Game's Specialized Search and Rescue Team.    
For emergency purposes, families may contact the Office of Student Life at (401) 863-3145 to speak to one of the Deans. For family emergencies that occur after-hours, families may contact campus police at (401) 863-3322 to request that an Administrator-on-Call be paged at home in order to request their assistance.  The Office of Student Life will be able to contact our base camp team. Our basecamp staff have a few ways available to them to send information into our groups: limited cell coverage, support of the Rangers and Shelter Coordinators (who use radios) or we can send a hike team in to meet up with a group. Our base camp team includes a Brown staff member and a volunteer group of past leaders. Our base camp is located at a campground in the area. We travel into the town for conistent cell service to allow us to check messages and receive calls each morning from 8 am to 9am and in the early evenings from 5pm to 6pm.  Basecamp can often be reached during the day; leaders are encouraged to call or text as neeeded for consult or to provide updates.   basecamp