High Peaks Expedition | St. Lawrence University Adirondack Semester

High Peaks Expedition

by: Ali Kostick
Erin Lescinsky


This past week, the yurt village was quiet because the Arcadians had embarked on a seven-day High Peaks expedition. The students split into two groups and, in a communal effort, assumed the responsibility of route planning, time management, and food and gear preparation. Group 1, informally known as the “Inclusive Boys’ Club,” included Garrett Sopko, Oscar Wilkerson, Drew Felter, Will Madison, Maggie Jensen, and Emma Brandt. Their journey began at the Cold River / Seward trailhead, where they soon discovered a natural waterslide hidden in the depths of the forest. Carved into the side of a wall of boulders, the slick, slanted rock protruded out in a deep pool of water. It only took one comment from Will to suggest an afternoon of water sliding.

On longer days, hiking through the Santanoni and Seward ranges, or ascending Seymour Mountain, Group 1’s conversations featured many open-ended questions, such as, “Who would win, a polar bear or two lions?” Every step posed a new debate until soon they were brought to a standstill by an encounter with two wandering souls. There were two men, one of whom looked to be around 70 and the other around 40.

“My name’s Cold River Bob,” said the older man. “And this here’s Junior.” He stretched a bony finger toward his companion and continued speaking. “His name’s Toby.”

After the Inclusive Boy’s Club introduced themselves and explained their plans, Cold River Bob’s eyes widened and stared at Will in disbelief.

“So are you the counselor for all these kids?” he said.

“Yes, sir,” Will nodded.

“Holy smokes,” Bob exclaimed. “All of them?”

For several minutes Group 1 stood around laughing and learning from Cold River Bob. The old man spoke of the Cold River’s history and told several personal stories that expressed his admiration for the place, until eventually he parted ways with the Inclusive Boys’ Club and disappeared back into the wilderness. Was that a real man, or the Cold River come to life? They would never know.

Meanwhile, Group 2, informally known as the “Bad Girls’ Club,” included Erin Lescinsky, Ali Kostick, Erin Waters, Melanie Bogdanovich, Alyssa LaCoy, and Kim Covill. Beginning at a different trailhead from Group 1, the Bad Girls’s Club set forth from Averyville Road en route to a lean-to adjacent to Moose Pond. Within hours of being secluded in the wilds, the group soon took on roles similar to those in the television show “Naked and Afraid.” Hoping to clean off in the clear, cool waters of Moose Pond, Melanie, Alyssa, and Ali ventured into the depths of the water and were soon encompassed by such swamp features as bubbly mud, thick sand, and slippery logs. In a misguided effort to become “one with nature,” they left their clothes behind and swam to an easier exit point atop some boulders, only to realize that their trek back to camp was a lot farther than they initially calculated. Bushwhacking naked as the sun began to set, covered only by large maple leaves, they returned to camp just in time for dinner. It was a great way to kick off the wild week ahead.

On day two, the weather remained sunny with temperatures in the 80s. Group 2 trekked toward a lean-to in Duck Hole. Once Duck Hole’s shimmering dam was spotted, the Bad Girls dashed to the waters, dropped their packs, and sprawled on the rocks, claiming the spot as their designated lunch break area. Ali quickly slipped out of her hot pink Crocs and, dashing across small boulders and sand, waded into the water to cool off. On her return, she felt a sharp prick on the bottom of her right heel as she rejoined the group on the rocks. Inspecting the damage, she peered under her foot, only to see the gushing of blood from a long, deep slash on the heel.

“Kim!” she yelled. “Put me under! I need surgery!”

With medical skill and motherly care, Kim bandaged the wound as well as she could in a backcountry setting.

As the days passed, the Bad Girls conquered the same peaks as the other group, and each trek was jam packed with hilarious moments. From dead trees falling on Melanie, to firewood gathering missions that took them a mile from camp, to an errant effort to cook split pea soup (which took two and a half hours), the Bad Girls’ Club certainly had a trip for the books. Both groups benefited greatly from Kim and Will’s Modern Recreational Ethics course, and the High Peaks expedition gave them a chance to apply their new skills to a hands-on, heel-splitting adventure.