Summer Backcountry Trail Crew Experience | Purdue University Undergraduate Application Essay

It was pouring rain as night crept in. Hauling heavy packs and tools, we trekked down the 19-kilometer unmaintained Galene Lakes Route, on our way back from constructing a campsite for BC Parks. Upon reaching a ravine, we ground to a halt – the rushing water and slippery rocks made crossing formidable. It was the most harrowing moment yet on this five-week Student Conservation Association crew in the Pacific Northwest backcountry.

But crossing was the easy part. Past the water, a steep, rocky ridge – too precarious to scale with our gear – loomed above us. Stumped, we debated several alternatives before arriving at a solution: an impromptu pulley system. The next hour flew by in an intense state of “flow” as we worked together like a well-oiled machine, hauling dozens of loads up the ridge. That night, cramped three-across in two-person tents, I reflected on the immense gratification of the day and overall crew experience, as well as several personal revelations.

I was the only crew member without prior backcountry experience. The contrast with my comfortable life at home was stark: weeks without my phone, rationing food, being itchy and caked in dirt from not showering, sleeping on the hard ground, and changing underwear just…

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