A group of senior girls overcome obstacles and climb a mountain


240 hours. In 240 hours, a group of girls spent 72 hours on a bus to Colorado. In 240 hours, these girls spent 6 days in the San Jose mountains of Colorado. In 240 hours, these girls hiked 40 miles and peaked a 13,800-foot mountain. Over this past summer, seniors Lauren Ehrlich, Linnea Eastburg, and Louise Gallup traveled with their youth group, Young Life. In a total of 10 days, they spent 72 hours on a bus, hiked 40 miles, and made memories that will last a lifetime.

The girls heard of the traveling opportunity through Linnea’s close friend and FHC graduate, Cooper Terwin. He went on the trip the previous year, and he thought it was a very challenging, but rewarding. He convinced all of them to consider going on the hike.

“He absolutely sold the idea to me,” Linnea said. “He was like “Oh it was the best experience of my life.a�� It was mainly through him [that I heard about the trip].”

When Linnea, Lauren, and Louise heard about the hiking opportunity, they began to ask their families if they would support them. Both Linnea and Louise’s parents agreed right away. However, Lauren’s decision was a bit more difficult. Since the age of seven, she has had knee problems. Lauren has a condition called patellar instability, which causes her knees to dislocate frequently. She has had three knee surgeries to attempt to correct this problem. When considering the physical aspect involved in the trip, Lauren and her family were hesitant as to if she could handle it.

“I have knee problems, so my parents were worried about me hiking a mountain,” Lauren said. “Then, they were like, “Well if you think you can do it, [you can go].a��”

After receiving their families’ blessing, they signed up for the trip. As the date of the trip grew closer and closer, no one knew what to expect. Linnea, Lauren, and Louise did not feel prepared for what was approaching.

“We had no idea what we were going into,” Linnea said. “We barely got a packing list, and we had no clue what we were supposed to do. It was a little bit of guessing and packing and gettinga bunch of stuff together and hoping you had it all.”

However, Louise believes that no amount of preparation could have prepared them for the trip.

“I didn’t think it would be as hard as it was,” Louise said. “I knew it was going to be hard, but it was way harder than I thought it would be.”

On the day of the trip, the girls piled into a bus for a 36-hour bus ride to Creede, Colorado. There were many emotions felt on the bus. During the final few hours, feelings of tension and anticipation were present in the air.

“I was kind of nervous [on the bus ride],” Linnea said. “All the worst scenarios were coming to my head. I was like, “What if it’s so hard, what if I can’t make it, what if I die in the mountains, what if we run out of food?a�� I was definitely nervous, but I was so excited to get off the bus and see the mountains. It definitely was a mix of being nervous and super excited.”

After arriving at the base camp, the girls quickly packed their stuff and began their journey. While they were very eager for what was to come, there were some challenges lying ahead. No one on the trip was allowed to have their phone. The hiking guides never told anyone what time it was.

“They didn’t want us to know anything because they wanted us to focus on the hiking and on ourselves,” Lauren said. “So we did not know anything the whole time.”

As well as having no technology, there were no showers, no bathrooms, very hot days, cool nights, and rain at least once a day.

“You’d be in your sleeping bag, and you’d feel disgusting,” Lauren said. “You’d just want to go home and sleep in your bed.”

On the second day, the girls faced more challenges. On the second day of hiking, there was no path to follow. In order to go forward, they had to go through the plants. Aside from getting cuts all over her arms and legs, Linnea touched a poisonous plant and developed bumps on her arm.

“We weed whacked through the straight jungle,” Linnea said. “It was so hard, and we had no idea what we had gotten ourselves into. It was awful.”

While some days were harder than others, the struggles were worth it when they peaked the mountain. Peaking the mountain was very difficult, but a very satisfying moment.

“That was the steepest part of our route,” Louise said. “That was so hard. I honestly thought that I wasn’t going to make it.”

However, when the top of the mountain was reached, it was a feeling unlike any other.

“It was amazing to literally be on top of the world,” Lauren said. “You look around, and you’re so high up. That was awesome.”

Linnea can still recall the beauty of this rare scene.

“It was so quiet up there, but it was so beautiful,” Linnea said. “We just sat there by ourselves and let it all in. The feeling of reaching the peak [made] all of our hard work and the pain we went through worth it. It was pure joy on top of the world.”

After peaking the mountain, things got better. The girls were now used to the conditions and difficulties of hiking the mountain. But the days continued to be interesting. Every member of the hiking group spent a night sleeping away from the rest of the group. When Louise experienced her night alone, she had an alarming moment.

“So I had my headlamp, and I looked behind me, and there was something crouched down. I think it was a coyote that was like 5 feet from me. I got up and sprinted to the group tent. I still went back and slept by myself. But most of the night, I was awake because I was so scared.”

Linnea and Lauren still find that moment to be slightly comical.

“She was like “I just almost died,a�� and I was like “What?,a��” Linnea said. “And she was going on and on [about the coyote]. It was the funniest thing ever.”

The girls continued down the mountain with ease. A few days later, they made it back to camp and headed back home. After all that time in the wilderness, they were glad to be back home.

“I’ve never been more thankful for my bed [when I got home],” Louise said.

While the journey established itself as being difficult and challenging, it was very rewarding.

“At the time, I was like “Why am I here; this is horrible,a��” Lauren said. “When I came home, I was thinking, “Wow that was the best thing ever.a��”

Aside from being a very fun and gratifying experience, the trip provided some very valuable life lessons for each of the girls.

“I learned that life is a lot more simple than we think it is or that we make it out to be,” Louise said. “It doesn’t have to be hard. I think that we make life a lot harder than it actually is.”

Linnea also gained some knowledge from the difficulty of the trip.

“As soon as I got home, I realized how meaningful it was and how important it is to go through things that are hard like that,” Linnea said. “With being away from technology and being away from everything, it definitely gave me a better appreciation for breaks and the little things.”

In the future, they would all be interested in going on a trip like this again. However, all of them would require a little bit of time to recuperate from the last hike. This experience was very rare and valuable to them. Lauren, Linnea, and Louise are very grateful for their experience in the mountains.

“It’s something you only get to experience a couple times,” Louise said. “It’s definitely worth it.”

The struggles and perseverance only made the experience better. This exceedingly difficult hike made the girls realize how strong they truly are. The experience and memories gained on this trip will continue to impact Linnea, as well as Louise and Lauren, for many years to come.

“I would be talking to people and they would be like “I don’t know how you did it,a��” Linnea said. “I don’t either, to be honest. I don’t know how I did it. But I did it, and it was the best experience ever.”