Where Nature and Minds Meet: A Blog About My Experiences in the Utah Canyons

This past semester, students were asked to reflect on their HMI experience by creating their own blog posts. “Each blog was totally unique” explained Alex Tarika, the Semester 31 English Apprentice. For the next couple of weeks we will be posting a sample of several students’ work here on the HMI blog. Below you will find an excerpt from Lauren Cunfer’s blog, or you can read her blog in its entirety.

Day 1

We got to our spot which is freakin’ beautiful- I am obsessed with the canyons.”

Arriving in the canyons, I knew this was going to be a completely different experience for me. Immediately, I fell in love with the orange walls. I was more excited than nervous, unlike on other expeditions. On this final, third one, I could already feel myself opening up on the first day. I wanted to make this the best expedition ever.

Day 2

“It was one of the scariest, hardest things I have ever done considering I was carrying more than half of my body weight on my back…I’m worried the rest of expedition is going to be this hard. I know it’s going to be so sad when it’s all over though- I will probably never get to do these expeds again.”

“I LOVE NATURE. Oh and I LOVE Caitlin and Bryna, my tarpies!”

Day 3

“We looked for water for a really long time and then Bryna and I finally came across a tiny, dirty puddle! I’ve never been happier and we hugged, danced, laughed, and cried.”

Finally getting to walk inside of the canyons was a magical experience. I kept looking up from my boots, having to remind myself that I wasn’t on a movie set or in the Middle Ages. I was completely enamored with where I was and the people I was with. However, getting out of the canyons was a different story. With the additional 25 pounds of water on my pack, I had to climb straight up the canyon walls for the first time. Let’s just say I was about ready to leave. That may have been the single hardest thing I have ever done, mentally and physically. During the trek up I felt vulnerable and weak. Once I got to the top though, the “hiker’s high” kicked in. Looking off the edge I thought, “Wait, I just climbed that?” I think this feeling is why expeditions are so powerful and I am so thankful for them.

Day 4

“I feel like I’m finally at home on expedition and like I’m really killing it. I know 11 days is a long time but I really don’t want this to end.”

“I feel like I’m really funny on expedition.”

“Liza Jane was cuddling with me during circle. Now we’re all sleeping under the stars together again. I’m happy.”

Unlike the first two expeditions where I was always craving a heated building and a warm meal from my mother, I finally felt at home in the canyons. I had come to feel perfectly comfortable and content in the wilderness. My tarp-setting-up and stove-lighting skills were now perfected, as well as my ability to truly show my real self.

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