By Hannah Varberg – HCC Communications Coordinator
HCC has facilitated 5 overnight trips so far this year. The most recent trip was to Itasca State Park, which I led with my husband, Micah and a dear volunteer, Bin Su. I’ve wanted to lead an overnight trip since I’ve started working at HCC a year ago. As with life, there were beautiful moments, and there were little blunders and mishaps. The following is an honest illustration of the moments that made up the weekend:
Saturday, October 6
7:20 AM: Micah and I arrived to HCC the same time as Bin Su and Yuhong Zhao. I excitedly walked to Mim’s Café down the street to buy me and Micah breakfast. My heart broke when I realized it was closed. Micah and I quickly made toast instead and ate it secretly in the kitchen while all the other students, scholars, and their families arrived.
8:00 AM: Everybody but one student arrived to HCC, and we climbed into two vans. I drove a minivan with Bin Su, Yang, Lina, the cooler, and luggage. All the other 13 students rode in the 15-passenger van with Micah.
8:27 AM: Both vans made a stop at CSCC to pick up the last student, Zewei Xiong. He missed the bus to come to HCC. From here, we took off to Itasca State Park!
8:30 – 1: We drove north, getting to know each other along the way. In my car, we tried truffle fry flavored lays, Doritos, Korean chocolate, and other snacks. In Micah’s car, he spilled sunflower seeds all over himself as he was trying to snack and drive.
1 PM: We arrived at the state park, and the fall colors of the trees are strikingly gorgeous with bright yellow and orange shades everywhere. We could not check in until 4 PM, so we found a fire pit behind a guest cabin. We forgot newspaper, so everyone threw in their maps and schedules to start a flame. Once the fire was strong and mighty, we roasted brats and ate chips and apples. Everyone helped with this and stood around the fire, trying to keep warm. A few people tried roasting a banana on the fire because the bananas weren’t ripe yet.
2 PM: We set off down a hiking path to the Itasca fire tower. We took our time and enjoyed the beautiful leaves. Once we got there, we waited for an hour to climb the fire tower because only 6 are allowed at a time. Micah and I went up last, but the view was definitely worth it! During the summer, the view would have been green; during the winter, it would probably be white. But at that moment, it was a forest of yellow, red, orange, and the dark blue of small lakes. We didn’t stay long because we were the last ones. And Micah is scared of heights. My husband is 6’8, so his personal height adds to any other height and makes it worse. That’s his theory at least.
5 PM: Micah and I hustled ahead of everyone back down the path so that we could quickly check in and receive everyone’s keys. With our big group, we had 6 total suites.
5:30 PM: Bin, Micah, and I immediately started making dinner. It was soup, so it was a fairly quick and easy process. The suites had small stoves and only one big pot, so we had to borrow a pot.
6 PM: Everybody came to our suite to eat.
6:30 PM: The plan was to have potatoes, zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, and ribs over the fire for lunch the next day. The problem was that we had to be checked out of the suites by 11. So Bin, Micah, and I decided to prepare everything the night before. We also decided to boil the vegetables so that they wouldn’t as take long to cook over the fire. This took almost two hours!
8 PM: We were exhausted at this point, and most people thought it was too cold to have a bonfire. I stopped at all the suites to talk to everyone then rested. I stayed in the same suite as Bin Su, and Micah and Zewei were next door.
Sunday, October 7
8:30 AM: We had boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, and sausages for breakfast. We had hot water and cider available too. Everybody came to our suite for breakfast.
9:30 AM: Everybody packed their bags and moved everything to the vans. We returned our keys to the state park and drove to the headwaters!
10:30 AM: We explored the headwaters where there was a gift shop, a café, and hiking trails. We immediately noticed snow lying on the roof of the building, which means we experienced yellow, red, orange, green, and white nature that weekend!
10:45 AM: It was the first time I’ve seen the headwaters of the Mississippi, and I was surprised at how anticlimactic it was. It was a few stones alongside a lake, but it’s still mind-blowing to know just how long that stream reaches! Some people in our group walked along the stones. I made an attempt, but the concern of slipping and being swept all the way to the gulf of Mexico deterred me from going all the way across.
11:30 AM: After people had hiked, drank hot chocolate, shopped, and taken many pictures, we piled in the vans and found a picnic area with a fire pit, where we cooked the vegetables and ribs wrapped in tin foil. The cooking process was very quick thanks to our prep work! We also had s’mores. We were out of forks at this point, so people started breaking the marshmallow sticks in half to make chopsticks.
1 PM: After lunch, we began the Wilderness trail, which is a one-way through the beautiful forest. We stopped at a tree that was over 300 years old that stood taller than the fire tower. At this point, people were more concerned about finding a bathroom than staring at the tree. I was one of them!
2 PM: We finally located a bathroom and stopped briefly before starting our drive home.
6:40 PM: We arrived safely back at HCC and went our separate ways. Although the weekend was tiring, it was a beautiful thing that we were able to do it together. It would not have been the same trip without doing it in multicultural community!