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Local Girl Scout treks to Machu Picchu

The Woodinville Weekly of Woodinville, Washington

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Through Girl Scouts, kids cangocamping, exploring and learn new skills and hobbies. But for one Woodinville High School student, Girl Scouts gave her the chance to trek to Machu Picchu.

Nicole WasteU has been in Girl Scouts since the first grade.

"I love the excitement of learning something new," she said.

Over the summer Wastell, now a high school senior, got the chance to try something completely new. She left the countryforthefirsttime, and went on a trip to Peru with a group of other Girl Scouts.

In addition to being a dedicated Girl Scout, Wastell plays soccer, volunteers with the special education students at her school and loves studying science.

When she graduates she hopes to study neuroscience, or something else related to either the body or the mind

First, though, she hopes to earn her Gold Award, the highest rank in the Girl Scouts.

The Girl Scouts puts together trips all around the country and the world for its members. Wastell wanted to travel, so she went through the application process, and did an interview. She was selected to go to Peru with a group of about a dozen other Girl Scouts, all from different troops.

"The whole trip was girl-led," Wastell said. After they all met for the first time, they started planning. They were in charge of everything: where they were going to stay, what they were going to eat, what they would do each day and how they were going to make the money to get there.

Wastell got a job and started pet-sitting on the side.

They also started training for their trek to Machu Picchu, the ancient Inca city that sits high in the Andes Mountains.

Then an injury put Wastell's whole trip in jeopardy. She aggravated an existing injury in her back playing soccer. She was diagnosed with a pre-stress fracture a few months before the trip. Training stopped. Soccer stopped. Almost everything stopped.

"My whole life just kind of turned around," she said. She had to stay off her feet as much as possible. She had to wear a back brace.

"The trip kind of seemed like it wasn't going to happen because I couldn't physically do it," she said.

Then her doctor gave her the green light. She started training as hard as she could, hiking three times a week.

Finally, it was time.

When they landed in Peru, it was pretty clear that they were a world away. As soon as they stepped off the plane, Wastell said she noticed the heat, the humidity.

"We got right into the life of being in the jungle," she said.

They did sightseeing for a few days, going kayaking, seeing wild monkeys and parrots up close. A lot of the time she was thinking about the trek to Machu Picchu, hoping that her back would hold out.

Then it was time to start the trek.

"It was very rocky," she said. "It's very steep." But, through it all, her back held, and she was able to finish the hike.

"Itwasdefinitelyapersonal trek and journey," she said.

They slept out under the stars. On the third day, they got to the Sun Gate, which was once the entrance to the city.

She was amazed at the giant structures the Incas were able to move without modern tools.

"They moved all the huge rocks by hand," she said. "They built it by themselves with their hands."

Eventually, they had to come off the mountain and come home. Still, the trip left a lasting impression on her Making it all the way to the top, even with her injury, was a huge accomplishment. And, she made the trip with her fellow Girl Scouts. They are friends, and still keep in touch.

"I think the trek really brought us all together," she said. "It was a good feeling for all of us."

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Original Publication Date: November 2, 2015

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