We are excited to share Alexis Sotelo's moving essay about her experience, also in Aspen, Colorado where she was part of an Inspiring Connections Outdoors (ICO) service trip. Thanks to both Aaron and Alexis for sharing their thoughts with the world!
Hello my name is Alexis and I attended the hiking trip at Aspen,Co. The trip was a fun experience because I was exposed to so many new things, such as first time building a trail, first time without being on technology in general, and sleeping in tents for about a week. I was able to learn how to make a trail, and what tools can be used to shape the trail, and a proper way to dispose of the leftover soil by covering the old trails. Making trails seem pretty easy to make, but it’s actually a difficult task because you have to adjust the ground level and the width. I was also able to learn how to work with other people whom I never met before, and learn about other cultures, such as the Greek dance. I learned about not being scared of nature and enjoy nature at its best; for example, by laying down on the ground and watching the trees or just listening to nature. I also learned that it’s always better to be prepared for anything than regretting not being prepared. For example, when it was rainy and one would forget about their waterproof pants or jacket. I was shocked about the fact that I was able to be disconnected from technology and not be bored; in fact, I felt more relaxed, relieved from stress, and up until now I’ve noticed that my mood has improved to being more happy. I also learned that we should not harm animals, and get so close to wild animals, giving human food can damage the animal’s diet. I learned that when you are close to nature, you tend to loosen yourself a lot more because you don’t feel stressed by time, it’s like time does not exist for a big while, and you gain a sort of independence in believing that you can overcome many obstacles.
Something that I would never forget would be about the time Stephanie(from L.A) and I built a tipi/shade by Maroon or Crater lake. I was having this idea of making a shade because the sun was hitting hard and I wanted to cool off, but at the beginning I didn’t believed in myself because I didn’t know where to start from, or about how much time it would take. I noticed that there were a lot of cut down old pine trees laying by the shore and I had this other idea of starting by making a tipi. I began to collect long sticks and place 3 of them to point to the sky in form of a cone. Iwas putting more sticks to hold the frame, and that’s when Stephanie helped me by weaving the wood sticks and supporting the structure. It took us about 2 hours to finish, but we were glad of what we had accomplished. Many tourists were wondering what the purpose of the structure was for, and we told them that it would be for those who wanted to cool off on a hot day. There was this lady who was not happy with the shade because she said that the point of leaving the pine tree by the shore was to revegetate. Another idea came to my mind, I thought this was also a way of recycling nature and still benefit us and organisms who seek for protection of some sort. I viewed this as a way of recycling because we weren’t cutting or harming any other trees, we were using what would probably seem like trash because there were big piles of pine trees reaching about 4 meters high, and they were all over the place. Now every time I feel like giving up I remind myself, who was the one who came up with the idea of creating a shade? Who slept in the woods for nearly 7 days? I saw two snakes, three deer, and a small black bear! This reminds me that I was able to witness things that could have injured me, but didn’t, things I was able to overcome because I was afraid of the dark, and I never believed in myself before, but by making my idea a reality it gave me confidence into never giving up in what could seem to be impossible for me.
Another thing I won’t be able to forget would be about the clear sky at night because you are able to see a lot of stars, colors, and brightness, something beautiful. This was the first time I have seen the sky so different. For a moment I felt like I was on another planet. In Chicago, that’s not possible because of all the air pollution we have. After the trip, I became more confident and independent in the choices and decisions I made in my life, and to place realistic goals on myself.