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For our third expedition, HMI went back to the canyons of Utah. Most would assume that this would be a very similar if not identical trip to our first expedition because of its location; however, the experience was one of its own. First of all this was a student led expedition, which means that one of the instructor-team members was a student. However, the student expedition leader was not the only one making decisions. There were a few independent student travel days where we hiked and camped for periods of time independent from our faculty instructors. This gave the expedition as a whole a completely different feel. As students we were much more competent and independent compared to the previous two expeditions. Overall, this third expedition brought backpacking to a whole new level and helped enhance our ability to make educated decisions for ourselves.
Another big difference between the first and third expedition was the heightened adventure of rappelling down into some slot canyons. Although not all groups got the chance to do this, it was a very memorable experience for the lucky ones. It was absolutely amazing because it was a brand new activity for most of the students. The idea of lowering yourself down a completely vertical rock face with nothing but a rope, harness, and the helmet on your head is not all that comforting. But, once we mustered up the courage to step past the ledge and enter into the narrow, shade-covered world we realized that the slight moment of nervousness was more than worth it. Lowering yourself down between giant canyon walls with only a foot or two of space between you and the slickrock is unforgettable. When we finally arrived on the slot canyon floor, our gaze was met with towering, curved canyon walls. Looking up there was only a sliver of blue sky left to admire but we were quickly distracted by the narrow path ahead that would take us on an incredible journey climbing through more light and shadows in Southeastern Utah.
The shade was quite appealing, as for most of the trip, we were subjected to some very warm weather. It was probably 85 degrees Fahrenheit everyday. Luckily, there were many opportunities to swim, and most of us were able to stay cool. Although we were exposed to extreme sun, few contracted sunburns, and many returned beautifully bronzed. The weather allowed us to sleep out under the stars, as opposed to being hunkered down in our tarps. This was one of the loveliest feelings throughout the trip. Overall, the warm weather was a highlight for all, and put some sweat on our backs!
One of the best parts about all expeditions is the food, and this expedition was no exception. We made our own meals, testing the skills we have built up on the past two expeditions. This expedition included gourmet entrées such as lasagna, chicken alfredo, oatmeal with craisins and nuts, rice and beans, pizza, and mac-n-cheese commonly known here as “cheesy pasta”. Henry’s personal favorite was red sauce baked ziti with “copious amounts of cheese”. We haven’t just become 5 star restaurant chefs but talented pastry chefs as well. The desserts of the desert included scrambled brownies, no-bake backcountry cookies, and spice cake. Needless to say we didn’t starve. Though we were grateful for the large amounts of food we had, our packs were weighed down significantly. Our families can all sleep soundly now though, knowing that we won’t starve during college but will instead be feasting on all the amazing meals we learned to cook here at HMI.
Now back on campus, we are excited to settle back into our final weeks, make the most of our remaining time here, and wrap up our academics with challenging final projects and classes.
Written By: Eli Davis, Kiki Kauffman, and Henry Sanborn