Between stints of fear, self-doubt and even physical pain at times, a group of teenagers laughed harder than ever, felt proud of what they achieved and found moments of peace surrounded by the vistas of the North Cascades.
“I hiked 37 miles with a 40-pound backpack,” 17-year-old Marisol Martinez of Mount Vernon said. “Nothing is impossible anymore. If I could do that, I can do anything.”
Martinez is one of eight high school students from areas of Washington and Oregon who shared Thursday what a 12-day summer adventure in the mountains near Lake Diablo meant to them.
The group is the latest to participate in Youth Leadership Adventures, an outdoor education program offered by the nonprofit North Cascades Institute.
On day 11, the students gathered at a meadow not far from the lake’s edge to overcome an added challenge to the outdoor education program: public speaking.
With the sun shining and a deer grazing nearby, the students shared stories with institute staff and members of the public. They described fears they had experienced before embarking, struggles they had encountered along the way and the biggest lessons they had learned.