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Bemidji High School sophomore Alex Schoenberger, BHS sophomore Seth Olson, BHS senior Laura Rogers, chaperone Kelsie Bryant, 2008 BHS graduate Kelly Christiansen, BHS senior Kadie Kern and BHS senior Amber Allen do a little exploring prior to heading up a another 14,000-foot peak in the Collegiate Peaks in Colorado. The BHS Outdoor Adventure Club traveled to the Collegiate Peaks last summer on a nine-day trip. Submitted Photo

BHS Outdoor Adventure Cub: Students explore Colorado mountains

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Thousands of miles above sea level and hundreds of miles from home, eight Bemidji High School students explored the Collegiate Peaks in Colorado.

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They traveled to the wilderness area near Buena Vista, Colo., last summer with the BHS Outdoor Adventure Club.

"They were champs," said Dan Bryant, OAC coordinator and BHS social studies teacher. "The kids were tough, enthusiastic, flexible and just a pleasure to be with."

Accompanied by Bryant, BHS industrial technology teacher Andy Olson and two chaperones during the nine-day trip in late July, the students camped, hiked trails, explored rock formations and old mining camps and climbed mountains.

"Everybody climbed Mount Belford," said Bryant, adding that many students also climbed Mount Oxford, Mount Iowa and Missouri Mountain.

They also went whitewater rafting on the Arkansas River and visited a natural hot springs at the base of Mount Princeton.

"They were thrilled with the scenery," Bryant noted.

Bryant said the students began preparing for the trip in the spring. They gathered equipment including lightweight sleeping bags and tents, as well as mess kits. They also prepared themselves physically by walking around while carrying their backpacks on their backs.

The OAC, Bryant said, provides students with outdoor adventures and encourages them to appreciate the outdoors and experience it first hand.

Many of the students on the Collegiate Peaks trip had never been in the mountains before, and they were awed by them along with the streams and glaciers they saw, Bryant said.

Along the way, he said, the group encountered a few challenges, including overcoming sore muscles, headaches associated with altitude sickness, blisters, uncomfortable cold temperatures at times and rain.

"We were lucky - it rained at night a lot," Bryant said. "We avoided getting drenched during the day."

Senior Amber Allen, who was one of the students on the trip, said she particularly enjoyed whitewater rafting.

"That was one of the best parts," she said.

She said she loves adrenaline rushes. Whitewater rafting, she said, also gave the students good contact with nature.

"It really taught you to respect (it)," Allen said.

Senior Jake Hemstad also said whitewater rafting was one of his favorite parts of the trip.

"I never thought I'd do anything like that," he said.

Hemstad also said getting to the top of Mount Belford was a highlight.

"It was so awesome up there," he said.

The group started the climb at about 9,000 feet above sea level and scaled a couple of thousand feet to a camp site where they stayed that night. The next day, the group climbed to the mountain's summit, which stands at about 14,000 feet above sea level.

The terrain, Hemstad said, was rugged.

"It was pretty extreme," he said.

Allen also said summiting Mount Belford was a highlight.

"It was awesome," she said, adding that it took both mental and physical discipline to reach the top. "It was just a really rewarding experience."

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