“Into the Wild”: Next Caller Camping Trip 2015

Contributed by: Ryan Cash

A few weeks back, the Next Caller team took off for our first (of what we hope will be many) annual “Into the Wild” camping trip.  Sporting matching t-shirts, which displayed a questionable interpretation of the spelling of “Kaatskills,” we boarded the van for a supposed 2 hour drive.  First stop was Wal-Mart to stack up on supplies on the way.  In the name of efficiency, we took a divide-and-conquer approach, splitting into different groups who were responsible for obtaining different items.  And in about half the time, the team bought triple the amount of supplies that would be needed for the weekend.  Luckily, the trunk did end up closing after some skillful suitcase maneuvering by Camp Counselor Sam Espinosa  

Five-and-a-half hours later, the van pulled up to Devil’s Tombstone camp site with a car full of weary campers.  Tents and sleeping bags were distributed, and, in a matter of minutes, the group had set up shop.  Some of the campers were given heavily insulated, sub-zero, military grade, tundra sleeping bags to exacerbate the effects of the oppressive, summer heat, and to test their will.  We’re happy to report that everyone was smart enough just to unzip the bag and lay directly on top.

For health reasons, the team ate a well-balanced meal of grill meats and s’mores the first night, and eventually turned in relatively early to prepare for an intense bout of hiking the next morning.  Sensing the impending crack of dawn, Counselor Sam popped up in the pitch dark and startled everyone from their deep slumbers with a “Rise and Shine” call.  The droopy-eyed campers wolfed down some breakfast and woke themselves up with some instant coffee, which was almost indistinguishable from sweeping a pile of dirt off of the ground and adding it to a cup of hot water.

Everyone piled back into the van and we drove to the trails to begin the hike.  We began with an intermediate difficulty trail up to Sunset Rock.  Jeff Kirchick would argue that it was “advanced” difficulty.  In order to counterbalance the inevitable bulk the seemingly strenuous hike would add to his legs, Jeff made sure to hit copious sets of push-ups to maintain his upside down triangular figure. 

The team hit Sunset Rock without too much struggle, and proceeded to the more difficult trail up to Newman’s Ledge.  While the humans huffed and puffed in the back, team mascot and best friend of co-founder Ian Roncoroni, Muesli, was scaling all of the rocks and leaving the group in the dust.  We attributed Muesli’s success on the trails to her small size of 8 lbs to avoid the embarrassment of realizing that a trip to the gym or 20 was in order for the next week.

Finally we arrived at Newman’s Ledge and took a break to admire the view (catch our breath).  Thankfully, co-founder Gianni Martire insisted on taking photos at every turn, or the trip would have gone almost entirely undocumented.  The group headed down the mountain back towards the camp site to complete the 6 mile loop, which apparently was a walk in the park compared to our camping neighbors, who politely informed Leo that they were engaging in a 13 mile trek, blindfolded, without food or water… Or something like that.

Back at the campsite, Eric and myself began to set up Ladderball, which tested our resolve.  After 30 minutes and a struggling effort, Ladderball was all set up and ready to go, with two broken goal posts held together by used ice bags and tape.  The first and only match up was Ryan & Lucy v. Sam & Colleen, as the dead-even game extended over an hour in duration.  It was basically dark and nobody else even wanted to play by the end of it.  Keeping consistent with the health kick theme, Sam cooked up some Frito Pie’s, which consisted of a bag of Fritos filled with chili and cheese.  The Pies still proved to be insufficient, and Jeff and Ian engaged in a double-hot dog, Frito Pie eating contest.  Leo called a stop to the madness after about 6 hot dogs a piece.  It was called off for “safety reasons,” as everyone was concerned that they would not have enough room to close the night out with some more s’mores.

The campers retired to their tents, while Ian and Muesli retired to the hammock.  Everyone awoke the next morning in severe need of vegetables and showers.  The team cleaned up, packed up and headed back to New York completing their adventure.  After a weekend of great team bonding, the only question remaining was how many days until we go “Into the Wild” again.