Twelve teens from New Hampshire on April 27 act out the story  of their hike from New Hampshire to Temple, Maine, at the Tent Talks during the Fiddlehead Festival in Farmington. Rebecca Richard/Franklin Journal

FARMINGTON — Beginning in Marlow, NH, a group of 12 adventurous students embarked on an extraordinary journey that promised not only physical challenges but also profound spiritual growth. Their quest? A formidable 500-mile trek through New Hampshire and Maine.

The 12 hikers are Una Lieberman, Arnett Pfiffner, Lily Mcalpine, Miriam Patton, Ben Saunders, Addison Grissett, Ben Holcomb, Aria Haupt, Thomas Boyle, Russell Clar and Max McCrory.

Their arrival in Temple was only half of their trip. After some rest at the Maine Local Living School in Temple, the students will make their way back to New Hampshire.

These young people are part of Kroka Expeditions’ Full Circle Winter Semester program, an immersive educational journey blending elements of hiking, skiing, biking, canoeing, and trekking through the untamed terrain of New England.

Kroka Expeditions operates as a non-profit wilderness expedition school situated on an organic farm in New Hampshire, offering programs year-round.

For their first month in the program, the students said they diligently prepared themselves, honing skills and fostering bonds in anticipation of the challenges ahead.


“We did a lot of exercise at base camp and had a regimen that we all followed for a few months before the semester started,” said Max, one of the teen hikers. “There is no way to truly mentally prepare for the semester and the gifts and challenges it offers.”

Their journey began with a northward ski journey, navigating the White Mountains en route to western Maine. Equipped with skis, determination, and a lot of butter, they embarked on this leg, braving icy winds and treacherous slopes.

Transitioning with the changing seasons, the students will trade skis for canoes, navigating the meandering waters of the Kennebec River on their return journey to Keene, New Hampshire. Finally, they’ll conclude their trip on bicycles, arriving back at their starting point in early June.

This expedition transcends physical exertion; it’s a voyage of self-discovery, a pursuit to comprehend the intricate interplay between humanity and the natural world. According to the program’s website,, Kroka has a commitment to climate resiliency, a resolve to adapt and thrive amidst environmental flux.

The students said climate resiliency is a major focus throughout their journey. On the long hike, students acquire the skill of adapting to the constantly changing natural conditions, equipping them to become guardians of the environment.

“This is perhaps the first semester where there was more walking than skiing,” Max said. “By choosing to stay in New England and not travel to Canada, we had to accept the fact that there was much less snow than in the past and rivers that once froze over now flowed freely, making some parts of the route impossible.”


Amid their outdoor pursuits, the students engage with local communities, fostering connections and gaining insights into the diverse cultures and traditions of the region. These interactions deepen their understanding and nurture a sense of global citizenship.

“We usually have two days of travel and one of rest, and then repeat,” Arnett explained. “The rest of the day really offers as a respite from strenuous exertion of travel while also giving us the chance to have time for academic learning in the form of geology, history, and ecological study of our area. There was many a time when we faced rushing streams too deep to safely cross. So our group improvised. We built bridges out of dead standing trees that made perfect surfaces to lay down and walk upon.”

Despite the physical aspect of the trip, the students maintain a balanced lifestyle, integrating academic studies into their routine. Their curriculum spans renewable energy to forest ecology.

The students said they aimed for locally sourced food when feasible. They demonstrated the food they ate on their hike. Their provisions include a hefty sack of apples grown by Chris Knapp of Temple’s Maine Local Living School, stored in a root cellar to prolong freshness. The organic fruit, diced and heated, served as their breakfast staple.

Emphasizing food preservation, they dehydrated a variety of items such as apples, mushrooms, and assorted fruits and vegetables, alongside copious amounts of beef jerky to address meat storage challenges. Each meal, designated by color-coded bags, featured dried vegetables, beans, and mushrooms, supplemented with a pound of butter for essential fats and barley for soups.

Despite efforts to maintain a regional diet, compromises were made, such as incorporating split peas for their quick cooking properties. The occasional indulgence of Skittles and chocolate, generously provided by supportive parents, was a source of sugar. They said they ate a pound of butter every day to ensure they ate healthy fats and got some extra calories.


“Our academic curriculum is integrated into the expedition,” said one student during the presentation. Students gain ecological and renewable energy insights through immersion in nature. In their journey, sustainable living practices sustain them. From locally sourced food to food dehydration for preservation, they demonstrate environmental stewardship and self-sufficiency. The students said preserving food is vital, so they dehydrate food to ensure variety and sustenance.

Twelve hikers from the Kroka Expeditions in New Hampshire on April 27 talk about their 250-mile hike to Temple, Maine, at the Fiddlehead Festival in Farmington. Rebecca Richard/Franklin Journal

This semester-long endeavor is meant to represent transformative educational immersion. It challenges them, pushes boundaries, forging compassionate stewards and community members.

Max said, “Despite being a group of 12 teenagers, we are pretty low impact, collecting firewood instead of using propane, making gear last as long as possible.”

“So many skills we have acquired are useful on expedition, fire making, identifying dry and wet wood, skiing with 40 – 50-pound packs, reading maps, and much more,” Arnett said. “All of these are fundamental to our lives in the wilderness and over time we got quite proficient at them.”

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