Semester 31: Project Day, Pranks, and Expedition Prep

We have been really busy this past week, but we’ve had a lot of fun.  On Tuesday, HMIhosted a semester-ly project day where students and staff work together on different projects across campus.  Earlier in the week, we had signed up for projects we wanted to work on, so we divided up into our teams on Tuesday morning and got started!  We had teams planting trees, staining boardwalks, more precisely mapping out our running routes, and washing screens and windows.  After a hearty lunch and lots of laughing, we divided up into different afternoon teams.  We had some of the same projects happening—like tree planting and staining—but others teams were grading the driveway, planting grass, doing work on our HMI trail loops, and cleaning out the kitchen grease trap!  We had a lot of fun listening to music and chatting with our friends and all of the HMI faculty and staff that were helping.  We accomplished a ton, and the campus looks great!

Thursday morning, we all woke up to quite a treat.  Cabin Three decided that we all needed a little pick-me-up since we’d been working hard on essays, projects, and tests.  When we came into
breakfast in the morning, we walked into a winter wonderland!  Signs covered the boardwalk from our cabins up to Who’s Hall that read “Christmas this way!” and “Happy Holidays!”  As we entered, we could hear Christmas music playing, and decorations covered the walls and doorways.  Breakfast came complete with a hot chocolate bar, peppermints, personalized stocking-shaped greetings, and, believe it or not, real Christmas trees!  This “prank” is one to go down in the books and definitely got everyone excited to head out into the snow-covered peaks to do some trail work on this upcoming expedition.

We also spent a lot of time over the weekend prepping ourselves for traveling and living safely in the backcountry by completing a 16-hour Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course.  We learned how to help someone with hypothermia, an injured spine, dislocated fingers and knees, among many other things. We also learned how to make slings and swaths, how to manage unresponsive patients, and how to do CPR. We got to act as patients in certain practice scenarios, complete with stage make-up that made us look like we had real injuries while other times, we acted as the “rescuers.”  These scenarios were most memorable during the Friday night snowstorm—it helped us realize what it might really be like if we have to provide care for an injured group mate.  Our final test involved seven of us having to “save” six patients who had fallen under a waterfall—we were trying to provide first aid care while being sprayed by a hose!  We worked together to carry our patients out of the spray in order to provide better care.  At the end of the course, we received pocket first-aid guides that we’ll be carrying with us on our next expedition.

Monday was our expedition prep day.  We started off the morning with a five-mile run.  Upon our return, we were greeted with a delicious breakfast and completed our assigned chores with anxious excitement.  After splitting up into our expedition groups, we started checking individual and group gear and packing our rations for our ten days in the field.  In some ways, we felt pretty comfortable with this process—we’ve done it once before and understand better what each piece of gear is for and how we can best divide up our food between rations periods.  This time, though, we were working with new instructor teams and new peers.  We’re looking forward to having the chance to get to know these friends in a new setting—the backcountry!  Near the end of the day, groups loaded their big packs into buses, ready for the next morning.  As the busy day came to an end, we had a chance to call our parents and relax a little bit.  We’re looking forward to sharing our second expedition adventures of doing trail work in the area and (hopefully) summiting some Colorado 14ers!

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