This past Saturday we had a square dance! We went to the 6th Street Gym in Leadville and danced the evening away. There was a professional caller who came all the way up from Buena Vista and taught us many different dances. The simplest one we learned was to the song “Cotton-Eyed Joe.” We hooked arms to create lines of seven and walked in a circle. It looked like the spokes on a wagon wheel. The hardest one we learned was with partners and groups. We all had a partner and then another set of partners joined us. Then we had to walk in circles and weave in and out of each other. It was really difficult! Everyone was dressed up in flannel and jeans to get into the spirit of square dancing. Faculty and apprentices joined us at the gym and helped make the evening even more fun. After the dance, we had a delicious dinner of pasta and then grabbed our blankets and pj’s to watch the movie “Miracle” in preparation for the Fun Run the next day.
Sunday was the day everyone was waiting for because of the HMI Fun Run: ten miles, ten AM, ten thousand feet. Students, faculty, apprentices, staff, alumni, and friends joined the legendary route. Some people wanted to break records, some had the goal to merely finish no matter the time, and some had different ideas. Lorin pushed Hobbes and Hattie in their stroller up and down and up more hills. Claire and Anya held hands the ENTIRE way. Altana jumped through a hoola-hoop the last mile, and Cat ran backwards with her.
The festivities weren’t just in the running, though. Some people decided to take a polar plunge after the run in the icy waters from far-away melting snow packs. Aid stations along the way were run by Whitney and Margi with help from an injured Inka biking alongside us. These stations included loud encouragements ranging from “CRUSHING” to “YOU’RE CRUSHING IT” and more “CRUSHING” from Whitney while Margi updated us on just how fast Chris and Lars were going to cross that finish line. A couple of honorable mentions from the event in terms of costume pride were Helen, the always colorful and tutu-appareled, and Gabe who had quite an interesting haircut (later turned buzz cut) and a sheet-made-robe/toga item. Both of them absolutely crushed it.
On Monday morning, the 48 of us gathered in Who’s Hall to kick off Project Day, which is a day devoted to improving HMI’s campus and the Leadville community. We started with a risk management talk where Justin briefed us on the potential risks of the day and how to behave in a safe and responsible manner while approaching new activities. Following the conversation our groups were read off and we dispersed to our areas. Among many other projects, one group built a new boardwalk in front of Cabin 3. Previously the boardwalk had only a small flight of stairs, but now it has several yards of a boardwalk down to the dirt road. Another project was to help sort gear, which involved taking down shelves and organizing mass amounts of ski boots. Then people took inventory of the new gear which will be purchased by future HMI students for expeditions, figuring out what we had and what we need to get more of. Other projects involved things from cleaning the grease trap, to planting new trees, to helping to prepare a historic Leadville building for a new coat of paint.
HMI is a school after all, so in addition to the Fun Run, square dancing, and Project Day, we have been studying hard (as usual) and working on final projects for all of our classes. We’ve made compendiums for history, portfolios for English, and Mystery Projects for Spanish. Our culminating project for science included collecting data on acid mine drainage by testing the pH, conductivity, and levels of macroinvertebrates in the local Arkansas River below and above the Yak Tunnel Superfund Site. The most notable/HMI-y of the projects, however, is probably our PEEPs. “PEEP” stands for Personal Environmental Ethic Project and is the culmination of P&P and consists of presenting our own personal environmental ethics, through both a spoken and a creative element, to the community this Thursday. Some PEEPs in the works include poetry, presentations about mindfulness, children’s books, and much more. Since this project can take on so many different forms, we’re excited to see what other students have created!