Exploring the Beauty of Nature

Quessie Hunt was part of the GALS trip in summer 2018. In this blog post, she describes the beauty she saw on her trip and what she learned while backpacking.

I am honored to have been able to participate in the 2018 GALS program. The experience I gained was like no other and was hardly what I anticipated. I was completely enamored by the beautiful terrain of Pisgah National Forest. It was absolutely gratifying to marvel at its various components.

Beforehand, I had never been hiking. I had camped but only in a designated area. It was a completely different thing to camp in the backcountry. There were no set spots to put your tents; neither were there showers or bathrooms. I was even expected to carry a backpack that was over half my weight! But I quickly adjusted to all the things I thought would be a challenge and began an exciting journey.

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The Truth About Backpacking

Marwa Hassan was part of the GALS trip in summer 2017. In this blog post, she describes the challenging physical aspects of backpacking.

My name is Marwa Hassan, and I am a former GALS participant. I wanted to take the time to speak to students that are either considering applying or have already applied to GALS. I’m here to share my experience and hope to give you some advice that will help you prepare for your trip because this program is by no means easy. It requires hard work and dedication like most rewarding things in life and will challenge you both mentally and physically.

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My Advice for you, Wayward Girl

Rose DeConto was part of the first GALS trip in summer 2017. In this blog post, she describes herself, her Duke GALS North Carolina experience, and her advice for future GALS participants.


My name is Rose DeConto.

I play the guitar but only grungy power chords.

I draw weird, edgy stuff.

I am pretty introverted, though I am also very loud and assertive.

I usually stay inside and prefer my dog to people.

That being said, I am glad I did this. Read more

An Experience Literally Like No Other

Savannah Midgette was part of the first GALS trip in summer 2017. In this blog post, she describes what she saw and what she learned at Duke GALS North Carolina.


GALS was an experience literally like no other. I expected this program to be a camping trip that incorporated science topics, but my expectations were far exceeded.

Before GALS, I had never been backpacking. Learning that I wasn’t going to have running water, indoor plumbing, fresh fruit/vegetables, AC, deodorant, and contact with the outside world was terrifying at first. Once we started the trip and I learned that I was stronger than I thought I was, I forgot about all the things I didn’t have and focused on all that I was given.

I was immediately overwhelmed with the beauty of nature that I had seen only on a small scale before. Hiking on the edge of the woods, camping on a grassy mountain plain, backpacking alongside a river and then sleeping right next to it, and climbing to the top of a mineral mountain made out of quartz was breathtaking. Read more

What I Never Would’ve Imagined Myself Doing

Briyete Garcia-Diaz was part of the first GALS trip in summer 2017. In this blog post, she describes her expectations for Duke GALS North Carolina, experiences during the trip, and advice for future participants.


I wanted to participate in GALS because I thought it would be a great experience and I wanted to enjoy nature in a new way. I was in shock when I got the acceptance letter, but I was also filled with joy.

Weeks went by, and then the night before I was SO nervous. Read more