Proctor’s Mountain Classroom Completes Winter Expedition

Two Andover students included in group of 10

By Scott Allenby
Members of Proctor Academy’s Mountain Classroom rest while hiking in Zion National Park. Back: Cassidy Joslin ’22, Brynne Makechine ’22, Tahg Healey ’21, Meg Patrick ’22. Front: Ayla Fidel ’21 and Sasha Mackenzie ’22. Caption: Scott Allenby. Photo: Quinn Harper

Andover’s Brynne Makechnie ‘22 and Sasha Mackenzie ‘22 are studying on Proctor Academy’s Mountain Classroom program this winter alongside eight other students and two instructors. While the group has been forced to modify its program slightly due to COVID-19, the “bubbled” group of 12 adventurers has completed expeditions to Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Moab, Arches National Park, and much more. Read excerpts from both Brynne and Sasha’s journals from the road below:

Proctor Academy students hike through Zion National Park on this winter’s Mountain Classroom expedition. Andover’s Brynne Makechnie ’22 and Sasha Mackenzie ’22 are two of the ten students taking part in this off-campus program. Caption: Scott Allenby. Photo: Quinn Harper

Brynne, from the Paria River:

 “After spending our first couple days at Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas, we all piled onto Deb (our trusty bus) and spent the four hour drive down to Utah playing games and looking out the windows at the beautiful scenery. 

“For our first night we camped in the front country and slept in tent/tarp shelters for the first time on this trip, as we had just been sleeping in sleeping bags at Red Rock.

“In the morning we got up well before the sun and were greeted by frost on the inside of our shelters.  Despite the early hours, everyone was in a fantastic mood because we found out we were all COVID-free! I would like to say we ripped off our masks and celebrated, but our faces were actually rather cold, so we kept them on. The sentiment was there, though.

“And so the first day of our expedition began! Quinn and Erica taught us the correct way to pack our bags, and we were off. After multiple river crossings, lunch, and some unfortunate incidents that resulted in a few members of our group getting very wet, we reached our campsite. We again set up our shelters and settled in for the night. 

“The stars we saw that night were the most amazing I’ve ever seen. I have never seen a sky so beautiful. We stargazed for a while, picking out constellations and talking in our sleeping bags. We were also introduced to our poop shovels, which we fondly named Silly and Putty. 

“The next morning was also very, very freezing, but luckily a leisurely breakfast of pancakes got us through the morning, followed by a class on maps and navigation.”

Sasha from Zion National Park: 

“With our first official day in Zion we wanted to do a sick hike. That of course was accomplished with Meg and Brynne as our fearless leaders ready to take on everything, including Angel’s Landing. Games filled our time as we hiked toward the top. 

“Finally we reached the peak … or so we thought. While celebrating, we realized that the narrow winding ridge ahead of us was actually the top of Angel’s Landing. With our hearts most likely racing at an unnatural speed, we started up. Halfway through we were balancing as if on a tightrope and holding onto a chain with all our strength while trying really hard not to look down. For if we were to look down we would see 1,000 foot drop right next to us, and death not too far away. 

“With jokes to lighten the mood, we pushed our way through, only to be met by a friendly hiker to tell us we hadn’t yet reached the hard part. Exasperated we kept on walking. We were perfect imitations of Dory, who just kept swimming. 

“Finally, after our last adrenaline rushes we were at the top! We had done it! We ate a delicious lunch of pasta salad with a view of canyons below us and above us. We felt as if we were atop of the world.”