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Michael Mount: Farmed Oranges in Hawaii and Hiked the Pacific Crest Trail

July 5, 2011

Michael Mount

          After graduating high school I moved to White Mountains in New Hampshire, where I spent my days building bridges and cutting trees. In the following spring I began full-time work as a carpenter in North Carolina, dismantling tobacco smokehouses. I had amassed a small pile of cash by the time of March, and I set out into the woods in Georgia, on the Appalachian Trail. By August I had reached Maine, and by September I was a freshman at Brown.

          After a year and a half at Brown I declared a semester long leave. While my sophomore peers were romping in the snow and choosing classes, I was working on an orange farm in Hawaii, on the southern edge of the Big Island. I spent most of my days in trees, and after four months I was back in the continent, back on the west coast. In April I began walking north from the dusty Mexican border, following the Pacific Crest Trail over the spine of the Sierra Nevada and the Cascades, through California, Oregon and Washington. By late August I was standing in Canada.

          Experiences away from University are investments that pay greater dividends than cash. Leave-taking allowed me to rebuild the frame in which I see college, and to see myself from a new pair of eyes. After nights of building fires on mountain passes, and days of walking in deep canyons through ancient trees, and weeks in the hot Hawaiian sun, and living on the margin of hunger every week, things like term papers were easy.

Forester Pass, highest point on the Pacific Crest Trail: 13,200 feet

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