The 8th grade students of KIPP are veteran travelers when it comes to their school trips.

Their week-long, spring trip this week is an annual trek for students of KIPP Ascend Charter School, 715 S. Kildare, on the West Side.

All of the students, 46 in all, have attended class trips, some as early as the 6th grade. This was their first trip to Atlanta. They’ll end their journey in Memphis on Friday.

Though much of Sunday, April 15 was spent on the road, seeing the landscape, small towns and makeshift waterfalls from leftover rain along mountains, their trip really began early Monday in Atlanta with a trip to Stone Mountain Park and a climb atop Stone Mountain.

The KIPP trips are primarily educational but also offer fun activities. Later in the afternoon, the students visited Spelman and Morehouse colleges.

The students and their adult chaperones trekked the 1.3 mile trail to the top. The students’ eyes were wide after seeing the nearly 1700-foot high mountain, and after the chaperones told them they’d be climbing it. But they wouldn’t be scaling rocks and cliffs Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible.

Much of the trek was along a trail that included its share of streams, trees, logs and large and small rocks. Monique Lewis, a 14-year-old KIPP 8th grader wasn’t a stranger to mountain climbing.

She climbed a mountain on her 5th grade trip to Wisconsin. Stone Mountain was much bigger, she said.

“It was fun. I started getting tired about half way up but I kept going,” she said.

Near the top, the dirt and rock trail actually ends and there’s nothing left but steep, solid rock. About 20 kids and their chaperones made it to the top. Another small group also made it up. The rest of the group made it to the half way mark but went back down.

Keith Davis, 14, and his buddy Kenneth High, 14, were the first up the mountain. Kenneth, though, said he was actually the forth person to reach the top.

“It was steep toward the middle; when you got up to the top, it was real windy; you couldn’t hardly breath up there,” said Kenneth.

“At first it was easy” said Keith, “then once we got to the top and I looked down, I was scarred. But my friend was like, ‘keep going, keep going.’ I went all the way to the top, and then it was time to come back down and I got real scarred then because the wind was blowing real hard.”

The top had a panoramic view of trees and downtown Atlanta off in the distance. A recreational area greeted students at the top. Soon it was time to head back down along the same trail.

After a quick lunch, it was on to Spelman and Morehouse.