Upon talking to some really crunchy Dartmouth ‘11’s back for Homecoming Weekend, I realized with incredulity that I had not yet hiked any stretch of the Appalachian Trail. I was really into that kind of thing at home, where I didn’t even have access to pristine, untouched nature. So I made a spontaneous decision. Instead of going out that night, I grabbed a friend, and we went on an evening hike to Velvet Rocks, an area landmark, and allegedly only a few minutes from campus. We took a left from a sketchy looking gas station, and turned onto one of the most beautiful trails I’ve hiked on. Every few minutes, we’d come upon a series of natural stone steps that connected us with another portion of the trail. Nonetheless, within ten minutes, we managed to lose our path, and we had to hike straight through the underbrush for a half an hour before we could find the trail again. If you know anything about group dynamics, you’ll realize the position we were in was dangerous, because each of us alone in that situation would have been terrified, but we both assumed the other knew what was going on. Consequently, we never did actually make it to Velvet Rocks, but we found a fenced off abandoned gas tower. We hopped the fence to investigate. The chamber itself had a precautionary statement printed on the outside, something along the lines of “warning, dangerous gasses.” However, that was a word to the wise, and we, of all things, were not wise. My friend decided to climb the ladder to the top of the 50-foot tall chamber, to see if he could stake out our destination. Unfortunately, it was getting dark, so we decided to turn around and go home. As we were walking, my friend would look back every few seconds and claim that the tree stumps behind us looked like moving human forms. I wasn’t scared of my own accord, but his nervousness got to me too. Terrified, we sprinted all the way back to the road.
Going out may be the predominant culture at Dartmouth, but that night, my conviction was confirmed: you don’t have to go to the frats to have fun. From that day onwards, my self-imposed dictum has been to try something new, at least one night every weekend. There are so many things to do at Dartmouth that I don’t want to knowingly constrain myself to only a few.