Semester 32: “Whatever the reason, we are happy”

A little over a week ago, we emerged from our sleeping bags in southern Utah, covered in filth and, for the most part, feeling a little apprehensive about reentering the HMIcommunity. What would seeing other human beings be like? Having to attend school in a classroom rather than at the base of a large drainage or on a windy mesa? In two weeks, we had transformed into Canyon People— living off the fat of the land (or the dehydrated contents of our food bags), filling our dromedaries with ice cold river (or puddle) water, avoiding trampling cryptobiotic soil, exploring ruins, problem solving, and storytelling.

Nevertheless, we returned to an HMI campus covered in feet of fluffy, white snow, peeled off our puffy layers, and rinsed away the canyon grit. The transition into school and our schedules was almost immediate. De-issue equipment, eat, sleep, start school. We didn’t have much time to think about change and how much (if) it scares us.  We didn’t have much time to be nervous for classes. We didn’t have much time to do anything else but be ourselves and be present in this moment 100%. We work out, we eat (almost nonstop), we do chores, we go to class, we chop wood, and we’re in our cabins by 9:45 pm, stoking the fire and getting to know one another.

We just had our first tastes of coffee since arriving in Leadville (during our town run on Saturday), but even without caffeine, we have more energy and enthusiasm on a daily basis that we ever have back at home. Maybe it’s the enormous mountains that sit so casually around us. Maybe it’s everyone’s willingness to dance and laugh and live simply. Maybe it’s the promise of ski week. Maybe it’s the smell of lunch coming from the kitchen. Whatever the reason, we are happy.

Speaking of cabin life…you might think that living with nine other young women or men in a small wood cabin heated by a wood-stove in the dead of winter in Colorado would be miserable. You might think we’re mostly thinking “I’m cold all of the time,” “I just can’t deal with you all anymore,” or “the only way to actually get some sleep around here is to go outside in the snow.” Yet, like many aspects of HMI, things aren’t always what they seem! Cabin life, to put it in one word, is spectacular. The bond between cabin-mates isn’t quite like any other. We stay up to the wee hours of the night (meaning 11:30 because we do all want some sleep before we have to wake up for AMX) talking, sharing stories, and learning about one another’s journeys up to this point. The most beautiful thing about cabin life is that no one is judged based on his or her past.  We love our cabin-mates for the people they are now and respect that their stories and decisions have made them who they are. There’s something very comforting in knowing we can look forward to fuzzy pajamas, great conversation, and giant snuggle puddles after a long day of hard academics and fun in the snow. We wouldn’t trade it for anything—not even copious amounts of chocolate!

We’ll keep you posted as we continue to get more into our classes this week, and we’ll have some exciting posts about the Leadville Loppet—a Nordic ski race that some of us are skiing in and others of us are helping support by working at an aid station.

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