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Henri’s Cabin

Ask any W&L student, Lexington is a different place in the spring. After the long winter months, April gives way to a greener and cheerier Shenandoah Valley. When it comes to taking advantage of this warmer weather and the few commitments of Spring Term, Virginia is full great outdoor activities, many of which are outlined in the OC guidebook (Version 2.0 out now!) and most can be done within a day or a weekend. But sometimes getting to that secluded campground can be a hassle, and with the warmer weather, you might be sharing that view with another group of campers. But fear not; just a short 15-minute walk from campus is Henri’s Cabin, a log cabin dedicated to students who want to spend a quiet moment in nature without leaving their backyards. Once there, students can enjoy the serenity of W&L’s back-campus and reflect just as Henry David Thoreau and other transcendentalists and nature-lovers have done throughout history. Inspired by Thoreau, Henri Hammond-Paul built Henri’s Cabin with the help of volunteers during the Spring Term of  2012 as part of his senior thesis for his English major. Equipped with nothing but a cot, a chair, and a desk, Henri’s Cabin provides students a back-to-basics experience that encourages a deeper appreciation of nature and a better understanding of themselves.

Sound like something you wanna get in on? All you have to do is email and ask! Before you go, however, there are a few guidelines you should be aware of: one person at a time, leave the electronics at home, and no alcohol or drugs.

App Adventure leader Bishop Snedden spoke about her experience at Henri’s Cabin when she went fall term of 2017. She was inspired to go to the cabin in order to fulfill a requirement for the OC degree (Interested in learning more about the degree? Check out our last post!) She said she first heard about Henri’s cabin as a freshman before she was really ready to pursue the adventure. “It seemed strange and isolating, something I would never have done as a freshman but I am glad I decided to spend a night there as a senior.” While a night at Henri’s cabin doesn’t require too much prior camping experience and is suitable for all classes and skill levels, it may test you in other ways. Bishop said her experience was unnerving at times, like when “[she] awakened by (what [she] assumed to be) a lost cow, mooing from a few yards.” While the sounds and silence of the woods can be unnerving, Bishops says “don’t let that deter you.” Overall, the experience was one she enjoyed. She packed herself dinner and spent the evening reading and reflecting. “I went to Henri’s cabin in the fall of my senior year, and I think it was the perfect way to reflect on and inaugurate my last year at W&L.” Her final piece of advice to those braving back campus to spend some time in Henri’s cabin? “Make sure to bring layers!”