Lancer Spotlight: For some teachers, coronavirus inspires new interest in hiking

“These mountains know you as you are and know how you feel. They love you even when you cannot always love yourself. They do not and cannot judge, but they can always listen. They creak and sigh, they patiently wait your steps. They do not know malice and they do not anger. They are comforting when no other comforts can be given. They are mountains, and we are people.”

Jake+Snow+sitting+on+top+of+a+rock+in+the+Badlands+of+South+Dakota+before+nearly+falling+down+500+feet

Jake Snow sitting on top of a rock in the Badlands of South Dakota before nearly falling down 500 feet

by Ashlyn Martin, Reporter

The short URL of the present article is: https://lhslance.org/z9498

Jake Snow, World Language chairperson and Spanish teacher makes sure to enjoy time in the forest, rivers, and mountains to get through the struggles of the pandemic. On class Google Meets Snow likes to tell stories of his hiking trips from the weekend before and make a few jokes to brighten students’ day.

Snow likes to show his students pictures of the places he’s been hiking and describes the adventures.

Snow said, “In South Dakota, I was trying to get a nice picture, but in the picture you don’t see that there’s a cliff that goes down 500 feet. I nearly slipped after setting up my tripod and running to a spot on a rock.” 

Jake Snow sitting on top of a rock in the Badlands of South Dakota doesn’t reveal the moment before, when he nearly fell.

Snow started hiking in middle school. 

Hiking helps people to get some peace and quiet from the stress in everyday life and now, because of covid, people are more isolated. A group of English teachers got together in summer 2020 to go on hiking adventures, too.

English teacher Sue Peterson said, “I have always enjoyed getting outside and hitting the trails, both for exercise and because it gets me in my “happy place.” This past summer I ran into Mrs. Kirkland on the trail at Little Bennett, and we agreed that it would be fun to get together and explore some new trails. We invited others in the English Department and Mrs. Smith and Ms. Troxel decided to join in.”

Peterson enjoys the company of others while Snow sees hiking as a more reflective time.

“It’s a meditative process. When you hike alone, you’re able to not wear a persona. You’re able to be exactly who you are. When you hike alone, you see a reflection of yourself. Hiking in silence helps you to be able to face yourself,” said Snow

Mrs. Mary Ellen Newcomb also enjoys hiking and has special memories of backpacking to Ireland. 

Newcomb said, “Hiking is one of the most peaceful activities I can imagine. Hiking helps me relax, to meditate, and problem solve.” 

Snow has many favorite hiking experiences, both near and far: South Dakota, California, Potomac River, Maryland Heights, Weaverton (South Mountain Range), Western PA, Cathedral State Park, West Virginia, the Shenadoah, and the Redwood Forest. 

Summer sights at Cumberland Maryland in the C&O Canal

Snow isn’t the only person who has discovered the Appalachian Trail, Weaverton, and the C&O Canal. Kirkland, Peterson, Smith, and Troxel have also been to several of these spots.

Maryland is home to two long trails: The C&O Canal (connecting to the Great Allegheny Passage) and a part of the Appalachian Trail.

Snow said, “I have two ‘hidey holes,’ Union Mills and Herrington Manor are both very beautiful. I call them hidey holes because I feel safe there.”

An interesting trail to go on is the Paw-Paw Tunnel.

During quarantine we need to remember that things will get better, but for right now we have all found temporary replacements of what would be our gatherings until we go back to “normal.”

Snow said, “My hiking trips have replaced gatherings but when we can see people again, hopefully gatherings can replace hiking trips.”

Before going on a hike alone or with friends, follow these “10 Hiking tips from Mr. Snow” that will come in hand for an adventure you might face out in the woods and the wild.

10 Hiking tips from Mr. Snow

  1. Don’t hike alone, but if you, do let someone know.
  2. Learn the geography of the place you want to hike before you go.
  3. Understand the basics and know some tips of first aid or get certified.
  4. Have “bear strength pepper spray” in some of the more remote areas of Maryland.
  5. Have the correct gear, especially hiking boots.
  6. Bring water and stay hydrated
  7. Don’t listen to music on the trail–you are there to enjoy nature. 

Leader of the “Amazing English Teachers Summer Hiking Group,” Mrs. Kirkland, also suggests knowing the geography of the place you want to hike before you go. In fact, Kirkland recommends the book, “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson, which got her more interested in the Appalachian Trail. 

Snow uses the “All Trails” app and it rates the trails as easy, medium, or hard. Snow looks for length, elevation, and if the trails are clearly marked. 

Kirkland said, “We hiked many trails on the Appalachian Trail but one of my favorite views is a short hike up Weverton Cliffs where it overlooks Harpers Ferry.” 

Snow has a beautiful picture of the exact place Kirkland loves, the bird’s eye view of Weverton Cliffs where it overlooks Harper’s Ferry.

A beautiful bird’s eye view of Harper’s Ferry in the wintertime.

Snow hopes to go to Sheeps trail, Destruction Bay, and Mongle (also known as “Hills of the Hungry Wolves”) in the future. The craziest place Snow wants to hike is going from Ocean City, Maryland to Ocean City, Washington. 

Kirkland said, “I would absolutely love to hike under the Redwood forests, along the northern West Coast trails in Oregon and California.” 

 

An early morning wake up in California brings sights of a beautiful sky and sea with fog in the distance that come up behind a rock at the California, Red Wood Forest

Snow said, “I would definitely say hiking is my passion. Mountains are all so different and unique with all of their “spines and bones.”

Snow said, “Remember that mountains are ancient bones, the spines and ribs of a restless world which has never slept and therefore never dreamt. The mountains we shall pass and climb are gentle, sympathetic bones who see us the way that an old woman may see a newborn, or a fawn. When we reach the top we see the histories before us, not as some concentration of carefully curated words in dusty textbooks, but as they are laid before us.

He added, “These mountains know you as you are and know how you feel. They love you even when you cannot always love yourself. They do not and cannot judge, but they can always listen. They creak and sigh, they patiently wait your steps. They do not know malice and they do not anger. When you climb them, they sing as do angels and anxiously anticipate your ascent.”

“In the plains, in the shadow of mountains were born our species. They have watched us with gentle curiosity and with simple humor. They are dear friends and they are aware of our constant need. They are comforting when no other comforts can be given. They are mountains, and we are people.”