A Recipe for Trail Mix: Chocolate-covered Almonds, Craisins, and Baby Elephants

By: 
Sarah N. Neilson
Class of: 
2017

My favorite Trail Mix ingredients: Chocolate-covered almonds, craisins, a baby elephant, M&Ms, 5 o'clock chapel bells, a green bike, Payson and the people inside, hiking boots, Herring-Cole, a squash team, honey-nut cheerios, incredible professors, skis, Sergi's (Bob's only), a lifetime of Laurentians.

Add favorite ingredients to a heavy-duty reusable ZipLock bag and go! 

*****

Here’s something I bet you haven’t seen on tour. Just past the athletic fields are more than 300 acres of woods and trails owned by St. Lawrence University. On Monday and Wednesday mornings I hop on a “green bike” and peddle to class, just over the Grasse River at the Wachtmeister Field Station. This semester I am enrolled in a course called Communicating Nature. For much of the class, we venture beyond the Kip Tract trailhead and into the woods to learn.

A couple of weeks ago, one of my professors challenged us to step “off the trail”. Again and again we hear, “leave no trace”. This went against everything I had been taught, but I accepted the experiment. That Saturday, I packed a bag with extra provisions and a fully-charged phone and set off into the woods. Well onto the Kip Tract, I turned off the trail, following a deer path. At first I was curious, I kept going and wandering along the snaking path deeper into the woods. I kept having to suppress feelings of guilt for venturing off the trail, thrill, excitement, fear, nervousness, which peaked when I did eventually turn around and realize I was lost. Thankfully, I had set aside the time to be found, but I was emotionally exhausted! In my time off trail, I saw several deer, was spooked by a bird swooping low, and found my toes squishing in the mud.

Walking back to my dorm room, I reflected on the adventure I had just taken. I dared to get off the trail, explore and allow myself to be scared. I realized that it wasn’t the first time I took those steps; I’ve been doing it for my four years here at St. Lawrence. I dared to sign up for Introduction to Chemistry, Introduction to Comparative Politics, Intro to Modern Dance, the Hunting and Fishing Club and the summer program in Kenya, and while at times these experiences felt challenging and a bit unnerving, they were exciting. I have encountered new things and learned a lot about myself. I believe if we are scared of something, we must confront it. A liberal arts education has afforded me the ability to take these risks, try something new, get familiar with the uncomfortable, and explore avenues I would not have taken otherwise. While I have no intention of becoming a professional dancer or working day in, day out in a chemistry lab, I am thankful St. Lawrence has encouraged me to get out my comfort zone and explore my curiosities.

While I do not plan on venturing off nature trails too often, nor do I endorse it (you will cause erosion), I encourage you to try it. Sign up for the experience you’re “afraid of”; who knows what you might encounter and if it will ignite a passion inside you. There's more than one way to make trail mix. 

Pack your bags, don't forget your trail mix, and let's go! Make sure to record your encounters at Nature up North: Specifically check out, “View Encounters Map” and “Find a Trail”.

P.S.: Here's a great resource for outdoor recreation by activity.