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The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

Keira DiGennaro finds backpacking to be worth the experience

Kiera Digennaro backpacking on the coast of Washington.

Junior Keira DiGennaro almost died two summers ago.

Not too long ago, Keira went on their first backpacking trip with their family to Olympic National Park in Washington. After years of Keira’s dad trying to convince them, Keira finally gave in and went on the trip that ended up being to their favorite place.

“Two summers ago, we went to Olympic National Park. That’s my favorite place ever,” Keira said. “We did three days on the beach because it’s Washington; it’s on the coast—three days on the beach and three days in the mountains. The beach was cool; you’d think it’d be super cool. It was just really hard to backpack on.”

While at Olympic National Park, Keira had some scary moments while boulder jumping. The boulders were covered in algae, making them super slippery, which made an already dangerous activity even more dangerous.

“We were going on slippery rock. It was covered in algae,” Keira said. “It smelled so gross, smelled like seaweed, and was not good. No joke, I would have died if I didn’t have trekking poles. I already fell, [even] with the trekking poles. Without [them], I would have fallen and smacked my head open.”

Boulder jumping would have been avoidable, though, if not for Keira’s uncle, who is not the best at planning. Due to a lack of preparation, they ended up racing the tides and jumping the boulders to avoid getting beached, which ended up happening on one of the days anyway.

“It was so bad because we were racing the tides. My uncle is so bad at planning,” Keira said. “So we were like, ‘oh shoot,’ we have to get around this bend and [that] bend because we were right on the edge. We had to leave super early in the morning to get to our place because if you get beached, you can’t go anywhere, [which] happened one of the days.”

Algae wasn’t the only awful-smelling thing during Keira’s trip. During part of the beach hike, they ran into a dead whale body, which did not smell pleasant, to say the least. Other than the dead whale, Keira and their family also got to see some seals and eagles during their hike on the beach.

“There was a dead whale carcass, so that was the big event,” Keira said. “Worst smell ever. At one point I couldn’t smell [at all] it was so bad. It was in our way. It was gross, and it was super decomposed.”

During their time at Olympic National Park, Keira also saw a bear during their time hiking in the mountains, which they preferred much more compared to the beach. Backpacking on the beach was extra tiring in comparison to the mountains due to it being on sand, which is a hassle to walk on even when you are not carrying 40 pounds of supplies.

Keira also went backpacking this most recent summer in Idaho. They visited the Sawtooth Mountains, which, compared to their trip to Olympic, they did not like nearly as much. Backpacking in Idaho was very dry and hot which Keira did not enjoy.

“Last summer, I went to Idaho,” Keira said. “We went to the Sawtooth Mountain Range, which is a national forest, not a national park. That one wasn’t as good because I really liked Olympic. It was very dusty [and] very dry. There were lakes, but it was just a very dry climate. I didn’t love [that] because everybody started getting super chapped lips and the inside of [our] noses needed moisture, so everybody was getting bloody noses.”

Last summer I went to Idaho. We went to the Sawtooth Mountain Range, which is a National Forest, not a national park. That one wasn’t as good because I really liked Olympic.

— Keira DiGennaro

The climate in Idaho wasn’t the only downside to Keira; this backpacking trip had a higher elevation and was all mainly uphill or downhill, which is very rigorous, despite all their training and working out for it months prior. The elevation led to Keira having trouble breathing during the backpacking trip, adding to the misery they were already experiencing from the climate.

“It was cool, just a lot of uphill,” Keira said. “When it wasn’t uphill, it was downhill, which is also really hard on your feet because you’re putting a lot of force into your steps when you’re going downhill. A lot of ibuprofen happens before you go to bed.”

Despite their struggles, Keira still enjoyed their trip and all the amazing views. Although, they didn’t enjoy Idaho as much as they enjoyed Olympic National Park. Keira hopes to visit Olympic again in the future, but probably not Idaho. 

“Pictures don’t do it justice. I’m definitely going back to Olympic,” Keira said. “Idaho was really cool. It was more of my dad’s thing because my dad likes more barren, really high-up [places] with fewer trees and stuff. I don’t, I like trees. I like humidity. Still, it was a really cool experience.”

While there are downsides to backpacking, Keira still recommends the experience. The downsides of having no bathrooms and having to pack out your trash are annoying but easily ignorable considering everything you get to see. 

“Hiking is my least favorite part of it, but I like getting out there. There are some things that are annoying, but in general, it’s really cool,” Keira said. “I feel like it’s something everyone should do. I do recommend going out super far because you get away from people. That’s where the least use of the land is, and you can tell.”

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About the Contributor
Litany Gaines
Litany Gaines, Staff Writer
Litany Gaines is a senior entering her first year on The Central Trend. Since she was young, Litany has had a love for words, whether it be reading, writing, poetry, or song lyrics, and she is beyond excited to further her writing skills this year. In her free time, Litany enjoys being outside and spending time with friends along with reading and writing. During her final year in high school, Litany hopes to create many memories and strive to be her best before setting off on her next path in life. Favorite poet: Sappho Favorite movie: My Neighbor Totoro or Coraline Favorite Time: 11:11 am Her Car: A 2002 Pontiac Grand Prix named Daisy Jones that is somehow still running  

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