Welcome to Semester 33’s first expedition! Before heading into the backcountry, we had two days of crazy classes, including pack packing, shelter set-up, hitch tying, and cooking. After issuing all sorts of personal and group gear and packing up rations, we loaded up the busses and headed for the mountains!
Here’s a description of our “average” day:
-Cook breakfast/take down tent
-Hit the trail! This involved lots of navigation, supporting the leader-of-the-day, eating Chex mix, gaining elevation, summiting mountains, and losing elevation.
-Reach camp and debrief our hiking day, set up shelters, and purify water.
-Dive into classes and assignments such as communication in Practices and Principles, bio-blitz for science class, and sensory experience writing for English class.
-Fire up the stove for dinners, with our favorites being mac ‘n cheese, pizza, and burritos.
-Gather for circle and sunset games.
Of course, no day is really just “average” in the backcountry. We compiled lists of our favorite moments from each of the five expedition groups in order for you to have a more complete picture of the amazing time we had out there. Here are some highlights:
Our favorite memory, which may not seem like the likely choice, was running uphill while trying to escape a hailstorm. We also loved all the fresh, wild raspberries we found on trail near Mount White—right off the bush, in pancakes, in oatmeal, and in cinnamon rolls—we couldn’t get enough! “Big booty” and “chumka” were chants that could be heard often in our camp as we played games and laughed.
One of our biggest accomplishments was summiting Homestake Peak, a local thirteener. We loved standing on top and looking out on our route from above. We certainly can’t forget blueberry-eating goodness at Hagerman Lake after exploring an old railroad tunnel that used to run through the Continental Divide from Leadville to Aspen. Our camp was often filled with smells of pizza and sounds of a cappella singing!
We too enjoyed berries, berries, and more berries! Exploring old mining ruins with the Head of School as part of our instructor team was pretty darn cool. We’re definitely grateful for the sunny fall days of Leadville (after 48 hours straight of rain)! Our very own Olympics on the last day were certainly a highlight—we had an “Ichi Mini Hoi” tournament, played “Bowl of Nouns,” among other games, and couldn’t stop laughing.
On day three of our expedition, we were able to summit a thirteener called Mount Ouray. The climb challenged us since we hadn’t been out in the backcountry for very long, but we built up great experience in steep and rocky terrain, windy conditions, and working together to achieve group goals. We can’t choose our favorite game because we played so many good ones that we’ll bring back to campus and our cabins. We could certainly be counted on to be laughing or doing funny imitations around our stoves or on the trail.
Like Group A, one of our favorite moments looking back was walking the Continental Divide in wind, rain, fog, sleet, snow, and hail. All in the same day, all in August! We got into camp that afternoon and enjoyed that the sun was peeking out for a few hours before sinking behind the mountains. Our favorite game was “Yeehaw,” and we would call ourselves experts. We take our vegetable-offs (or tie-breakers) very seriously! We also feel quite proud to have watched sunrise from a ridge before summiting Mount Ouray.
In summary, we ate a lot, hiked a lot, laughed a lot, grew up a lot, and learned a lot. We can’t wait to start our life on campus with our newfound appreciation for civilization! We’ll keep you posted.