A more rugged and motivated version of myself

A more rugged and motivated version of myself

Haleigh Martin was a 2018 intern and is returning as a crew leader in 2019

15 OCTOBER 2018 | BLACKSBURG, VA. — I’ve never been one to push myself to my limits. I thrive in my comfort zones, and it’s where I’ve always felt like I accomplish my best work. Over my senior year of college at Virginia Tech, I came to realize this about myself, and I grew quite frustrated. The idea of applying for jobs that I felt under qualified for or inadequate at created a sense of anxiety, and I knew that I needed to be more proactive in pushing myself outside of my comfort zones to eradicate that sense of doubt.

Haleigh Martin

Through a series of Google searches and days of stalking a dozen schools’ job boards, I stumbled across Siskiyou Mountain Club’s Wilderness Conservation Corps. The ruggedness of the job description was intriguing to me, and I knew it was exactly what I needed to push myself, 2,756 miles away from home. Without waiting, I applied immediately and hoped for the best. After a few days of considering how my life might be spending the summer in the Southern Oregon wilderness, I began to do some research on where I had actually applied to live, and found myself on the Siskiyou Mountain Club’s YouTube page.

“My first experience out here, I wanted to die,” one of the interns mentioned in an interview video I stumbled across.

My anxiety spiked. Was I prepared to sleep on the ground every single night for three months, endure extreme temperatures and sun exposure, carry almost 100lbs of weight on my back for miles of unrelenting, unmaintained, rocky trails up and down steep, unforgiving mountains? My immediate answer was no, and I stood by that as I spent the next few days questioning my strength and almost hoping that I wouldn’t get a call back for an interview.

photo by deputy field director Trevor Meyer

On April 20th I received a call from Gabe Howe, the executive director of Siskiyou Mountain Club. He wanted to interview me, and I wanted to tell him I didn’t think I was a good fit for the position. But this was the challenge I needed, so we chatted over the phone for a while about the job. He explained to me the expectations and requirements of a Wilderness Conservation Corps Intern: ability to work long hours, hike up to ten miles per day, carry nearly 100 pounds of weight on your back including all of your own food, water, and supplies to survive in the wilderness, and maintain a strong attitude the entire time.

Through all of the interview questions and the daunting severity of the work, I was consumed with excitement. In one hour-long phone conversation, my life shifted trajectory as I was hired as a 2018 Wilderness Conservation Corps Intern. Little did I know, over the next four months this job would challenge me in all of the right ways and uncover a more rugged and motivated version of myself that I had been searching for all along.