My name is Alyssa Kullberg, and I’m a senior Environmental Science and Spanish major at Colby. I am particularly interested in ecology because I love learning about how all the parts of the natural world interact and also how humans are connected to it and shape it. The trip our capstone class took to Flagstaff Hut was a great way to start off the year and to begin to form more of a sense of community with the class through shared experiences. Of course, we meet for capstone for over ten hours each week, but during that time we are always very busy getting through presentations or working out logistics or split between the lab and the field–in other words, working in a 16-person lab group can be hectic. I think that is why going to Flagstaff Hut for the weekend was such a useful experience for our class. We had the chance to spend time with each other and talk about our projects, our summers, our study abroad experiences, and the best way to cook a s’more, all without worrying about other obligations. Being outside and unplugged for the weekend was a refreshing way to connect with the class, and having activities at our fingertips like canoeing, kayaking, swimming, and an awesome fire pit gave us so many fun options to spend our time there. During our free time I went canoeing across the lake to the outlet dam of the lake, which was absolutely beautiful! The lake is very big and almost completely secluded from human development, creating a peaceful wilderness experience. I hope to have the chance over the winter or next summer to hike to some of the other huts in this system–they are in a beautiful area and offer amazing services and amenities, especially for having somewhat limited access.
I am Carmen Wu, a junior at Colby College. I am interested in the human and public health of environmental science, which is closely related to human life.
The carbon budgeting system in this off-the grid hut indeed caught my attention, the staff bought eco-friendly toilets from Japan, which use a special cleansing foam to flush. This sustainable toilet is very efficient by using 0.3 gallons of water with every flush rather than approximately 3 gallons per flush used by normal toilets. I am surprised by their sustainable approach to deal with the resources and wastes in Flagstaff Hut. For example, they recycle the water used for the heating system and they use grass and microorganism to deal with the urine and excrement in the waste treatment system before discharging them to the ecosystem.
I would like to spend more time in the Maine woods, because outdoor activities would easily bring us into the collaborative nature of environmental science, and we also got to know each other better and had a good time there.
My name is Katy Donchik. I’m a senior at Colby College with a double major in Biology and Environmental Science. I’ve always loved being outdoors and more specifically, I’ve always been interested in the human-nature interactions that are happening daily.
At Colby, our Environmental Science capstones are designed to be rigorous, collaborative, and engaging. We are challenged to develop our own experiments and to work together to answer relevant scientific questions. Travelling to Flagstaff Hut for the beginning of our capstone was a wonderful experience. It allowed us to work directly with our research partners and test equipment, while also providing us with the intimate backcountry setting to get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses better. The hut provided us with delicious family-style meals and the glow of a campfire to bring our group together and solidify the feeling of us truly being a team in our research experience.
Having the ability to retreat from electronic distractions and other outside commitments allowed each of us to completely dedicate ourselves to getting to know each other and our projects better. What felt like simply designating time to relax and unplug couldn’t have been more productive elsewhere.
I would love to spend more time out on the Huts and Trails of Maine. Their mission of inclusion of all experience sends a message of welcome and acceptance. Their amazing tours of the huts proved to be both educational and inspirational. Their honorable values and friendly staff made this experience truly unforgettable. I can’t wait for my next visit to the Maine Huts and Trails!
My name is Brian Kim and I’m a senior at Colby College with a double major in Biology and Environmental Studies. I grew up in very environmentally conscious area and have always been interested in environmental conservation and management. My favorite component of environmental research is having the opportunity to work in the outdoors.
The huts were located in the middle of woods right next to the lake away from any other form of urban development. My trip to Flagstaff reminded me of my childhood and reminded me why I am passionate about studying the environment. We had amazing locally sourced food provided by the staff, we circled around a bonfire surrounded by trees, and we swam in a clear calm beautiful lake. All these things were only possible because of environmentalists and activists who want to preserve the beauty of nature.
As a student at a liberal arts institution I always thought that I would know everyone in my class, but that is far from the truth. Even though we were all environmental science majors I had had very few classes with rest of the students in my capstone. With family-style dinners and opportunities to socialize in a non-academic setting, Flagstaff allowed us to bond and get to know each other. In addition to the students, the trip allowed us to learn about our professors. Eating dinner, playing games, and socializing with our professors provided a unique opportunity to learn more about them as people. These interactions are relevant to our capstone that requires a lot of collaboration. By building friendships in a laid-back environment, our experience provided a framework for mutual respect and communication that will aid in our collaborative research project.
During our stay, I learned more about the Maine Huts and Trails network and their business in the ecotourism industry. It was interesting to hear about how their customer base ranges from inexperienced outdoorsmen to advanced cross-country skiers and how it is difficult to satisfy the needs and expectations every customer. However, in my personal opinion, whether you’ve summited mountains or never left the city, Maine Huts and Trails at Flagstaff provides a beautiful and immersive opportunity to experience and appreciate nature the way it should be.
Hi, my name is Kathleen Mason and I am a senior environmental science major at Colby College. I have interest in resource and marine management. Maine Huts and Trails are the perfect example of what it means to live sustainably off-grid. In a world that needs t
o convert to more sustainable resources, inns, hotels, and college dorms can use ME huts as a model for environmentally friendly practices. The huts are like resorts that remind you of the beauty of the outdoors, and what it truly means to use the earth’s resources without leaving a large footprint. My trip to the Flagstaff hut excited me to get to all of the huts, and hike the whole system from one hut to another. In addition to staying off-grid, my class trip to the hut with our research teams enabled us to spend time getting to know each other, and communication skills in order to build an effective and collaborative research team. The huts have allowed for a mini vacation, and the ability to use the location to better our academic experience.
Hi! My name is Molly McGavick and I am a senior environmental science major at Colby College. My environmental interests include human health, ecology and sustainability. This semester, I am enrolled in my senior ES Capstone class, where we collaboratively research the ecosystem services and functions of Wild Folk Farm in Benton, Maine. During our second weekend on campus, our class traveled to the Maine Huts and Trails Flagstaff Hut for some class bonding and to practice our research skills.
Since environmental science research is a very collaborative experience, it was important to be able to get to know our peers outside the classroom, and the Flagstaff Hut allowed us to engage in this bonding experience. Many laughs were shared over hiking, eating meals together, making s’mores at a bonfire, swimming and boating. Our recreation time at the hut enabled us to more effectively work together and communicate. The Hut and the lake were absolutely beautiful and it was gratifying to spend time off campus and away from the lab. The trip provided us an opportunity to pause, reflect on our project thus far, and think about what we want to get out of the impending semester.
Just one overnight at the Flagstaff Hut definitely inspired me to spend more time out on the Huts and Trails system and in the Maine woods. The ability to disconnect from technology and spend a night with peers in nature was a very rewarding experience. As soon as I got back to Colby, I called my parents to tell them how wonderful my stay was. The staff were great and the meals were delicious. We also learned about their carbon budgeting and how they were off-the-grid. The Japanese composting toilets were the only non-local supplies in the whole hut, and they were very efficient and unique. I appreciate that everything else in the hut was locally sourced, especially the food. I would definitely love to return to the Maine Huts and Trails again! The trip was a productive way to commence and highlight the cooperative aspects of our senior capstone project.
Hello! My name is Julia Saul and I am a current senior at Colby College, studying a new major called Environmental Studies – Computation, which is a mix of the environmental and computer sciences. Since my background is not entirely environmentally focused, I often find my ecology and field-work related skills are not always at the level of my peers. I have found that I can contribute in different ways and but there is still so much available for me to still learn. I have realized that an incredible resource is my peers, specifically the ones I am embarking on an Environmental Capstone adventure with. Sometimes asking for help can be difficult, and building a community with my fellow researchers has helped me open
up and feel comfortable asking all sorts of questions. Our stay at Maine Huts and Trails allowed me to bond with my fellow researchers as we hiked, canoed and roasted marshmallows under the stars. We were able to chat about our individual environmental science passions while also hearing about many other passions and interests as well. There is nothing that brings a group of people together more than the outdoors and Maine Huts and Trails made this possible! I now feel a part of a wonderful community that can support me through this research process and be there to answer my many questions along the way.
My name is Maddie Partridge and I am a senior Environmental Science major. When I first heard my capstone trip was going to Flagstaff Lake and staying in a hut, I did not know what to expect, however I was excited to visit a part of Maine I do not travel to very often, and really get to know my peers. I did not know many of the people in our small senior capstone class, so this was a great opportunity to meet the people I would be spending a huge part of my semester with, as well as bond with my research partner. I got to know other students who have been in my major for the past four years, but had never really spent time with, on a morning canoe trip. It was a great feeling to get outdoors and enjoy Maine with other people who loved the environment and the outdoors just as much as I do, and share that connection together. My favorite part of the experience was going on a morning canoe trip and exploring the lake and largely untouched shorelines. Additionally, we got to take a sustainability tour of our off-the-grid hut, which
was really interesting to me because I am particularly interested in sustainable development and design, and hope to become an urban planner or architect. I had never understood how composting toilets worked, so it was awesome to have that whole system explained and actually see it in action. It was also really interesting to hear about how the hut was powered with the solar panels, and remain efficient with insulation. This was a great example to me of how people can minimize their carbon footprint and live sustainably. I loved staying at the Maine huts with my classmates and hope that I can go back soon!
My name is Lydia Wasmer and I am a senior Environmental Science major at Colby College. I chose this major to get outside and study the natural intricacies that our planet is composed of. I have always loved being on the ocean or in the woods, admiring the beauty in the animals and plants I would see. This major has allowed me to explore terrestrial, aquatic, and marine realms, while encouraging a well-rounded education in the sciences and humanities.
It was such a pleasure to experience being off-grid at Flagstaff Lake. It is a rare occasion to be immersed entirely in the woods, encircled by foliage, with dirt on my boots, twigs snagged in my hair, and burs clutching to my pants for a ride. My class and I all had the opportunity to experience childhood again with s’mores and sleepovers in addition to making connections to our research and the ecosystem we found ourselves in. The hike in was exciting because of the unfamiliar paths. My friends and I even commented on the sand that we were walking on in the middle of the forest. We were unconsciously contemplating relationships between where we were and what we knew. Our stay at one of Maine Huts and Trails’ acted as a segue between the knowledge we carried over the past four years and its application to a new area.
Even though we have all taken the same classes and have the same major, I honestly did not know the majority of people in my Capstone class. So when we visited Flagstaff Hut, we were living in close quarters, away from school and other obligations, and had the chance to get to know one another. We were able to relax and enjoy outdoor activities like canoeing, which I had never done before. We were also able to get to know the faculty members that have recently joined the Environmental Science department. A highlight of my trip was being able to get to know our professor and her family. These interactions were so crucial because we were able to collaborate and aquatint ourselves in an engaging, laidback environment. This relationship building is of paramount importance since we are doing research with one another on a bigger project and in the professional Environmental Science field collaboration is essential.
I was inspired to look into hikes that have Maine Huts and Trails huts. I was interested in researching other activities that this program offered throughout the year as well. For example, their website offers a range of adventures during the winter, like snowshoeing. It is sometimes challenging to find things to do on campus during the winter and it is difficult to get onto Colby’s Outing Club trips. So, this organization provides more opportunities to be outside even if there is snow on the ground. This trip definitely made me more interested in getting involved with Maine Huts and Trails and using their wonderful facilities.
My name is Joelle Young and I am a senior at Colby College majoring in Environmental Science and Anthropology. Growing up, it was a tradition in my family to visit Maine every year and go camping. These moments served as reminders to take a break from the typical routine and step into nature to explore trails, forests, and lakes. These experiences led me to have an interest in the natural environment, in particular, human-environmental dynamics. Taking a trip with my ES capstone class to Maine Huts and Trails was a fantastic way to continue to appreciate the natural beauty of Maine and to bond with members of my class. Talking to my fellow researchers over the huts delicious meals and second deserts, getting to know my peers over competitive games of bananagrams, and going on long canoe trips with friends, allowed me to learn what people were excited about for the semester to come, what people were unsure about, and what people really enjoy about spending time in nature. These moments allowed me to reflect on the collaborative nature of learning, and particularly the importance of collaboration in a research project. Being at the huts helped us relax as a group and gain one shared experience which we could all take with us back to the classroom – I was able to experience the importance of community and time for recreation with my peers. Visiting the Maine Huts and Trails Flagstaff location has inspired me to spend time exploring the Huts and Trails system. I had a great time and I hope to visit again because no matter how often I spend time outdoors in Maine, I am always stunned by Maine’s pristine beauty and wildlife.