Semester 33: “It really is our home away from home”

Words cannot describe the pure feeling you get in the backcountry or the freeing breaths you take at 12,000 feet above all expectations and obligations.  Words cannot describe the bonds you form with the people you share that time and experience with—the unspoken acknowledgement that you are both experiencing a rare and once-in-a-lifetime moment.  You always know, though, that you’ll have to come back.   But when it’s back to HMI—the cabins, the curriculum, the cook crews, the AMXs, the 47 other students instead of 9—it’s worth it.  Being surrounded by a community where your opinions and experiences are not only shared but valued—words can’t describe that either.  And, after all, we’re still in the mountains!

On our first night back from expedition, there was nothing quite like climbing into a warm bed in a cabin heated by a wood fire.  After 14 days of sleeping on rocky surfaces in sleeping bags, we all felt quite pampered.  Cabin life is one of our favorite things at HMI.  Each evening brings a new adventure whether building a fire in the wood stove, playing card games on the floor, laughing with our Cabin Heads, or talking about our families and friends at home, we always feel safe and loved.  While the days before expedition were a whirlwind, our cabins were one of the most developed communities we had at HMI.  Throughout the expedition, we reflected on cabin life and thought about all the stories we’d be able to share with our cabin mates.  We’re not surprised at how many laughs have come from the endless good stories!  Tuesday nights we have cabin meetings at 9:30.  Earlier this week, we reviewed cabin expectations and norms, had circle, and enjoyed individual spotlights.  It’s been great to build our cabin communities—it really is our home away from home!

Last weekend, we made our first town run!  As we rode the 15-minute bus ride from the HMIcampus to Leadville, we could feel tangible excitement about re-entering civilization after two weeks in the backcountry.  Even just stepping off the bus, we could feel the energy of the little town. Don’t worry—our first stop was to the laundromat to clean all our dirty expedition laundry (we got it, Mom and Dad!).  Afterwards, some of us immediately headed for the local coffee shop where we gaped at the abundance of scones, muffins, croissants, and the assortment of delicious beverages (two of our favorites were the chai latte and blueberry chocolate chip scone). Others of us checked out Cookies With Altitude, where treats included lemon poppy seed cookies and peanut butter chocolate fudge. What decadence after cooking on a small backcountry stove for ourselves (which, don’t get us wrong, we’re really proud of)!  We were sure to stop by Melanzana, an awesome, local clothing store. Unfortunately, The Mule Kick (a great thrift store) was closed while we were in town, so for next week, that will be our first stop. Our first trip into Leadville was a huge hit, and we’re excited to get to know Leadville and the people that live here through our weekend visits.  We’re excited to call this place our home for the next four months!

This week marked the start of our classes. We’ve hit the ground running with assignments, field trips, and studying. More on that next time!

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