Semester 32: “Amazing and more amazing”

This week has been filled with laughs and smiles. We returned from spring break to hear about all sorts of interesting stories and experiences our friends had had during their vacations.  Since returning and catching up with the HMIfamily, we’ve spent the past few days preparing for our third and final expedition.  During this last expedition we will head back to Southern Utah to the red, slick rock canyons!  We’re excited not only to go on another expedition and return to the canyons (and potentially have independent student travel opportunities where we get to hike and camp without instructors!) but also because the weather is going to be different than we’ve ever experienced in Leadville or Utah!  We’re talking upper-70s during the day, dipping only into the mid-40s at night.  TROPICAL!

While we might not have said this to you in January or February, we have decided that there are only two types of weather here in Leadville: amazing and more amazing. Today was one of the more amazing days—it was fabulous. We woke up to a beautiful morning—clear and warm—and enjoyed a three-mile run in spring conditions. Most of us wore shorts or dresses and a few brave souls even wore t-shirts! The ground is still covered in lots of snow, but the sun shines down brightly on our lovely surroundings and on us. Occasionally we see a patch of dirt (!) and are reminded that there IS ground under all the snow…we’ve just never seen it before since all of us arrived in January. We’re looking forward to seeing the variety of the Leadville landscape that exists underneath the only thing we know—a deep snowpack!

While we’ve enjoyed some incredible weather over the past few days, we’ve spent the majority of our time taking a Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course. And…you can be quite proud because we’re all WFA certified according to the Wilderness Medicine Institute that administered the course. WFA is an acronym we’ve become quite familiar with and it has made us a bit more self-reliant as we head out on our third expedition.

WFA is a two and a half day (twenty-hour) intensive course packed full of learning. We’ve come out of the course with some great systems for assisting other wilderness travelers such as how to splint broken bones, how to clean and dress wounds, and how to administer CPR, among many other skills. While the course was exhausting at times, it was quite enjoyable and very fun—lots of interesting (and sometimes humorous) scenarios that helped ingrain systems in our muscle memories and allowed us to practice treatments for the numerous situations we might encounter when we travel in the backcountry. We’re pretty proud of our skills, but we sure hope we don’t have to use them.

And now, onto…THE LAST EXPEDITION! Wow. We can’t quite believe how far we’ve come. Unlike our other expeditions, we prepped for this trip in one day; this included all of the rationing, group and personal gear issue and organization, review classes, and route briefing. It was a ton to do, but we all had great success.

We’re quite proud of the five people who helped make prep day run smoothly and effectively—our SELs, or student expedition leaders. We nominated and elected these students to plan and lead the execution of this third expedition, and since spring break, they have been working away at creating expedition groups, marking up maps, understanding routes, creating lists of what we’ll need, and much more. Today’s prep day was just one of the things that they have intricately planned and prepared for. While it’s stressful being in charge of the hundreds of things that need to happen to get to the point of driving away from HMI tomorrow, it’s also quite exciting taking on leadership of all the logistical pieces necessary to make an expedition happen. Pretty awesome!

We’re sure we’ll have lots of stories for you when we return from the canyons, and we look forward to sharing them with you!

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