Lena Hanschka ‘21
Our night at the Stratton Brook Hut was a great way to experience the outdoors in a comfortable setting. It was really interesting to learn about how the Hut has worked to be sustainable and off the grid and showed us that you don’t need to sacrifice comfort in order to reduce your impact on the environment. The vista point nearby the Hut was beautiful and helped to give perspective on how much land and forest was surrounding us and how untouched it was by humans. Overall, our class over-night at the Stratton Brook Hut was a wonderful experience and made our class more aware of the Maine wilderness and our place in it.
Maddie Carlini ‘21
This trip made me more conscious of my individual impact on the environment. The men running the huts were very interesting to listen to; they did a great job of explaining how the huts function in order to be more energy efficient. The use of passive solar heating, natural, lights, and compositing toilets all made the huts more green. Seeing how little energy goes into running the huts made me think about the wasted energy that goes into sustaining my lifestyle, especially at Colby. Even though Colby is a environmentally conscious school, we still spend time and energy on landscaping and maintaining the grounds. Also, at the dining halls I have taken note of how much food is thrown away. I hope to try and be less wasteful and reduce my energy use.
Grace Andrews ‘21
Taking this trip at the end of a hectic week was a great way to take a step back and enjoy nature. So often we don’t realize that nature is all around us every day, and hiking up to the Stratton Brook Hut for the sole purpose of observing the natural world reminded me of that fact. Learning about the sustainability efforts of the Maine Huts and Trails system was also fascinating and made me think about the different ways human activities both affect the natural world and are part of it. All in all, this was a lovely trip and a great way to get some field experience for nature writing as a class.
Adi Shastry ‘21
Throughout this trip I saw many feats of nature. I saw a lot of beautiful parts of nature that I normally would not have and have not seen in my life because I am from the city. In the city, it is very difficult to see that many birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and even stars because of the way we have polluted and taken control of the environment around us to make it inhospitable for these aspects of nature in both direct and indirect ways. For example, it is very difficult to see any more than a couple of stars in the city at night because of the amount of air pollution that is in the air. This is what I have taken away from my trip to the Maine huts. Through this trip I have realized how negative an effect we have had on the environment as a whole.
Whitney Nash ‘21
It is often when you immerse yourself in a foreign environment that you feel your full consciousness of where your place is in that setting. The night that we stayed in one of the Maine Huts, I became aware that there was a large sense of insecurity present that stemmed from being fully in nature. Even though we were completely surrounded by nature, as a group we felt most comfortable removing ourselves from part of it and being surrounded by the things that we as humans made. One of these things was the fire and light we produced by making the bonfire. All night we sat around something that made us feel less vulnerable and more at home in the woods. As a result we designated a place in the foreign environment that we seemed to fit in to minimize this insecurity. The moment that we left that bonfire without flashlights or the heat of the fire, the realization crept in that we are helpless without these man-made creations we have become accustomed to. Without light we can not see and without heat we are unable to stay warm. In these moments of being the visitor in such an environment, the realization becomes clear that insecurity emerges when your place in a new environment is unclear.
Nick Ho ‘21
I don’t remember ever being so far isolated from civilization that I couldn’t observe any evidence of human presence. Even on long camping trips, deep in the woods, I recall seeing energy bar wrappers and used marshmallow skewers. Our trip to Stratton Brook Hut was no exception. The cabin, luxurious to say the least, was heavily adorned with human comforts. Toilet paper, mattresses, and a box of fancy tea-bags. I’ve always viewed this marriage as somewhat detrimental to both parties. For humans, our reluctance to be without reminders of civilization seems unhealthy. For nature, our presence is defiling a natural order for which we were never accounted.
Touring Stratton Brook Hut made me reevaluate this idea. Seeing how modern utilizations of technology were being implemented to minimize human impact and leave a positive footprint excited a part of me I never knew existed. I was introduced to Clivus toilets that compost and break down waste with a fraction of the water conventional toilets use. The hut uses solar panels to power their lights and appliances, minimizing the structure’s carbon footprint. Overall, the trip taught me a lot about the human relationship with the natural world.
Henry Heck ‘21
The trip to the Stratton Brook Huts was valuable because it provided me with time to be in nature both alone and with a group. Spending time in nature contextualizes our everyday discussions about our environment and helps us understand that we aren’t harming some abstract thing. This trip was also a good reminder to me to try and minimize my footprint on the environment. Seeing the way the Huts operate was awesome because it made clear that the place was built with sustainability as its priority.
Jack Koskinen ‘21
To be honest, this trip didn’t change my relationship with nature overly much. I think the huts are a great idea, and as a nordic skier I love that they will be connected by groomed trails, but nothing about walking up a wide man made trail to then spend the night in a very luxurious ‘hut’ drastically changed my relationship with nature. It was beautiful, and being out under the stars was spectacular, and I definitely plan to go again, but it didn’t enhance or change the appreciation I already have for nature.
Max Siegman ‘21
My trip to the Stratton Brook Huts was one that I will not soon forget. Visiting the Stratton Brook Huts allowed me to further my appreciation for the natural world, as well as reassure me that there are people out there who truly care about providing people with a chance to expose themselves to nature in the purest form. Being in a place as close to nature as the huts are forced me to consider my role in appreciating the environment around me. While sitting on the ledge of the vista, looking out at the mountains and the stars above, it is difficult to not feel some sort of responsibility to keep the natural world the way it is so that others can appreciate it the same way I got to.
Paul Ariola ‘21
From this trip, I learned that compared to nature, I am a miniscule part of the world surrounded by the wilderness everywhere. The environment has many unexplored parts which await their discovery, yet I must respect all aspects of it. Humans, including myself, have disrespected nature and the environment at times. I must make up for my mistakes towards nature by further respecting all entities and supporting its growth and development.
In conclusion, nature and the environment exist all around us peacefully while we destroy its beauty. I am much more self-conscious about my place in the environment and now am cognizant of my role in the human-nature relationship: protection, preservation, and praise.
Carter Robinson ‘21
I have always had a part of me that was very cautious of the environment. However, on this trip I learned a lot about the different types of things people do when they want to become closer to nature. I have already seen composting toilets but this was the first time I got to see one up close and learn exactly how they worked. There was also the great experience of stacking logs for the winter with Nick in the morning before we left that got me extremely interested in other things people do to live along side nature. Stacking logs was actually a very interesting experience. I saw lots of insects and other organisms while doing so which intrigued me. What I am really trying to say is that I enjoyed the experience and that I discovered that nature can bring people together, whether you are just sitting around a fire together or watching the stars. This kind of interaction is not common these days and is something I wish to preserve. The other thing that I was trying to show was that I feel closer to nature after seeing such a magnificent place for myself and that I learned that one can always do better at trying to preserve the natural environment. There is always something that can be done to become closer to nature and to help preserve it and this trip helped open my eyes to that.
Jake Neeb ‘21
I have always been an outdoorsman. Hunting, fishing, and camping encompass my summers growing up. My background has inspired me to become active in conservation, joining several groups such as the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. However, being from Maryland, I come from a totally different type of nature than what exists in Maine, and what I witnessed at Stratton Brook. I found myself as an observer, rather than a participant. In Maryland, I have an established role, I kill, yet preserve, and my actions and consequences are visible. In Maine, nature possesses a nearly mystic vibe, it should be left for peace. Therefore, I found myself simply as an observer, not only not interfering through hunting, but preservation also. Simply, I realized my role was to let it be, sit back, and appreciate.
Rosie Hust ‘21
Having the opportunity to go to the Stratton Brook Hut opened my eyes to my place in nature. When we arrived at the trailhead, we were very focused on the people around us and what was happening in their lives. Later that night, while watching the stars we were silent; consumed by the stars that filled the night sky. Being out in the woods, I was forced to focus solely on the environment I was in and not be distracted by other things. Because of my time at the Stratton Brook Hut, I am more aware of the natural environment.
Kara Robak ‘21
This trip made me very aware of the physical limits of myself and everyone else — always being “the girl with the blood condition” back home, I am very used to being unable to keep up with a group or outright barred from participating. I worried having said I could handle the hike would turn out to be a mistake, especially after starting off the trip on about as wrong of a foot as I could: going so hypoglycemic right before getting in the van that my friend forcibly made me a sandwich, carried my stuff, and all but dragged me to the parking lot, as I was too woozy to walk in a straight line. I ate my sandwich, rested in the car, and felt okay; but got out to find a busted hip belt on a backpack too heavy for me to lift. If Henry hadn’t swapped bags with me, an act of incredible kindness, I would not have made it. The hike itself went a lot better than expected: I tried to stay by Henry (I had his bag and wasn’t sure if/when he’d need anything) and by the front, which worked out perfectly, since Henry was leading us off. We mutually set the pace, so I never had to press onward more rapidly than I could handle; whenever we stopped to let others catch up, I got a moment to rest and drink as well. People say that’s not an easy hike, they call it mild, but it felt like one; I only nearly passed out toward the end when the incline was steep and the heat unrelenting. I’m not used to being welcomed hiking; I’m not used to being able to speak or maintain balance on the few hikes I’ve been on, due to pushing myself too hard; I’m not used to feeling wanted on outdoor treks or in the woods in general. Every cut could ooze, every step could be dizzying, every moment riskier for me than those I travel with; in an already intense environment for “normal” people, why bring sad, delicate, broken Kara along? For once in my life, pity wasn’t palpable in the eyes of everyone who saw me — I could not just keep up, but lead — with a backpack! So on the whole, this trip gave me a lot more confidence; I don’t have to be sheltered, I can belong in nature, too.