My name is Audrey, I am 21, and this will be my second year at Camp Augusta. I am so excited to be a wilderness trip leader this summer! The first thing you should know about me is that my heart belongs to the wonders of the outdoors, and I especially love our beautiful national parks! Since they are such a big part of my life, I’m going to use my experiences in five of my favorite National Parks to illustrate who I am.
Lassen Volcanic National Park was the first park I ever visited, and it is a place that feels like home to me. I grew up in a small town just outside of Redding, California and Lassen was about half an hour away. It was here that I have had some of my fondest experiences backpacking, hiking, and kayaking with my family. Speaking of family, I have a lot of it. I have six siblings (four sisters and two brothers) and twenty-three cousins! (Family reunions are crazy!!) My cousins and I have a fourth of July tradition where, if the park is open, we hike to the summit of Mt. Lassen at sunrise. I especially love these hikes because they combine some of my favorite things: stars and sunrises. We always start when it’s dark out and the stars are twinkling above our heads as we trek up the mountain on a crisp, clear night. I often trip on the ascent during these hikes because I’m too busy looking up at the spectacular display of summer constellations that I don’t look at the trail. Then, when we reach the top, we watch as the pale light blue hues slowly emerge from the darkness and blossom into a beautiful, vibrant array of oranges and pinks and yellows. It’s one of the most peaceful things in the world, and when I’m surrounded by the people I love, it’s a million times better! One year, we all did the hike barefoot. I spent most of my childhood running around in the woods barefoot, and I love being able to feel the earth beneath my feet.
During my sophomore year of high school, I went on a trip to Yosemite National Park through an organization called Naturebridge. My counselor on that trip taught me so much about conservation and the environment that ignited my passion for teaching in an outdoor environment. I love both of these things so much that I have received my degree in Outdoor Recreation Leadership at Feather River College in Quincy, California. That is why I love leading backpacking and climbing trips in this beautiful state that I am lucky to call home!
Also on my first trip to Yosemite, I was amazed and inspired by the climbers who ascended on rock faces that looked impossible to climb. Rock climbing is now a huge aspect of my life, and is my favorite way to spend my free time. The thing I love the most about it is being able to overcome physical and mental challenges to accomplish something that doesn’t seem possible. It is scary to rock climb, and being able to be at peace with my fear and learning how to channel that fear positively is extremely important to me, both in climbing and many other aspects of life.
Two years ago, my sister, Lizzie, and I drove twelve hours to Zion National Park after booking our campsite the night before. As soon as we arrived at the campsite, a huge storm rolled in, and it began to pour on us. Refusing to let the weather spoil our trip, we decided to climb the most famous hike in the park, Angel’s Landing, in a thunderstorm. It probably wasn’t the safest hike to do in a thunderstorm, but it was a thrilling adventure that I will never forget. We spent the rest of the trip hiking, getting lost, and laughing the entire time. We got up every morning to drink coffee as we watched the sunrise and made sure to get to a good lookout to watch it set. By the end of the trip, Liz was so tired of my silly rock puns (what would a mountaineer do with a math problem? SUMMIT!) our bond as both sisters and travel partners grew immensely through all of those little moments when we took the time to truly connect.
After we left Zion, Lizzie and I ventured to the Grand Canyon, where my mind was blown away by the way the powerful river carved its way through layers and layers of rock. If I’m obsessed with anything in life, it’s definitely rocks. I love how each mineral has its own unique structure, characteristics, and purpose. They remind me of how we, humans, are each different in our own way and each contribute differently to the world. I have a huge rock collection, and have a terrible habit of picking up rocks and putting them in my pockets and forgetting about them until they come out in the wash. Speaking of rocks, a couple years ago I actually obtained a seller’s permit created my own jewelry business where I would wrap crystals in wire and make necklaces out of them. It’s a fun hobby that I love to share with others!
One of my favorite memories in the Grand Canyon was when Lizzie and I went on an obscure hike and there was hardly anyone around. We simply sat on the rim of the canyon and enjoyed some snacks and read. It was such a good memory because reading is another of my favorite pastimes. I love to read about history, philosophy, and science, and some of my favorite books are Man’s Search for Meaning, The Book of Joy, and of course, Harry Potter. I also love Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side comics, and Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss will always be two of my favorite authors.
Liz (left) and me (right) at the Grand Canyon.
The first time I visited Joshua Tree was January of this year on a climbing trip with my friend Hayden. We spent the whole time scrambling around on rocks, watching amazing sunsets, and doing goofy poses next to trees. As you probably can tell from all my pictures, I love taking photos, particularly the candid ones that really capture a person’s true self.
When it would get dark after a long day of climbing and laughing, Hayden and I would camp in the back of my car and we would write and draw. If I’m not reading or playing outside, you can most likely find me inside writing or drawing. Creating art is another of my passions because it allows me to express myself in ways that I cannot convey in words.
When I was in Joshua Tree, I got to see my spirit animal, a big-horned sheep. They are incredibly resilient and adaptable creatures who see the world from the unique perspective of the tops of mountains. I love animals, and my favorite creatures are sharks! I have a shark tattoo on my arm and once went in a shark cage with Galapagos sharks in Hawaii! I also love elephants and got the opportunity to give elephants a mud bath in a cruelty-free elephant farm in Thailand! Oh, that reminds me, I LOOOOOOVE to travel! Traveling has allowed me to learn so much through exposure to different cultures and ways of life. In the past year, I have traveled to Thailand, Iceland, Switzerland, France, and Ireland. Each of these places had their own unique beauty and each enabled me to learn more about myself and the way I see the world. Plus, Iceland has the most incredible waterfalls (over 10,000 on an island about one quarter the size of California!!!) and waterfalls are another thing that I have a strong affinity for.
Well, that’s pretty much me! I cannot wait to learn about you as we travel through the woods!