By: Kiernan Green
Photos by: Julia Hartlep
For some, the trek from their housing space to Eureka, the Blue Ridge Center (BRC), or wherever their committees are being held is a mere stroll. However, for some others the trek is a grueling journey as they combat the sun’s rays, the suffocating hug of heat, and the potential threat of a bear lurking just off the beaten path.
The farthest housing space from the general mix-of-things is named McCarty Lodge. It lays approximately 12 minutes up from the BRC, though it takes approximately 8 minutes to walk down to the BRC from McCarty. Cameron Mears, a Virginia delegate staying in McCarty this year, describes his feelings towards the walk saying blatantly, “The hike absolutely sucks. Of course, we’re in full business attire, and it’s hot, and it’s such an incline.”
The hike absolutely sucks.
Last year, along with this year, the Virginia delegation has been housed within that lodge. A motto of the Virginia delegation, as spoken by Sharon Davies, is: “If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re late, don’t bother.” With these words echoing within the delegates’ heads, every morning they prepare to leave the lodge earlier than most other delegations to make up for the time lost to the expedition.
David McCurdy, another Virginian housed at McCarty, says, “You know, it’s pretty easy to walk from Barnhardt or Asheville to Eureka,” and tells other delegates to “value that.” Every night after the Evening Delegate Assembly & Devotion the Virginia delegation ventures further back up the mountain on a path shrouded with flora and darkness, hiding any potential bears, which has made the majority of the delegates uneasy at least once thus far.
Despite the potential damper that this experience could cause, the Virginia delegation has continued pushing forward with enthusiasm, bringing passion to their committees and the newsroom. Plus, the McCarty experience isn’t all negative either. Since McCarty Lodge is more secluded than other halls, cabins, and lodges, any trace of unnecessary traffic is eliminated. The delegates have said that the trip can get lonely easily, so the delegation usually travels as a group to and from the rest of civilization. This time can allow for more conversation within the delegation, which in turn leads to more bonding opportunities which can help create a more unified delegation as a whole. Also multiple delegates have commented that they’ll have calves for days, along with an obviously-sharpened mind, after this conference. Akin to life, McCarty has got its cons and its pros, but ultimately it’s a part of the lovely and life-changing experience known affectionately as CONA. Irene, yet another Virginia delegate, concluded her interview balancing the good and the bad of McCarty life: “It’s pretty tough, you’re walking uphill, in heels, it’s hot, you’re tired, and you’re just out of breath. But then you get up here and you just get to enjoy the view, chill on a rocker for a little bit. It’s tough but it’s not that rough.”