Summer Term 2015: “A busy day had come to the perfect end”

This week was swell! We had an off-campus trip for both our science and humanities classes. Our science class had its first lab in the field which allowed us to experience water testing at two different water sources, above and below a dam, which was a lot of fun! We conquered a stream crossing and a journey through a marsh. The rain did not stop us, but allowed our determination to show through as partners gathered water samples to complete their tests. With the help of Ari and Barrett driving us through a storm, we successfully made it to Colorado Mountain College. At CMC, we were lucky to receive a tour of their geo-science chemistry lab. We learned about an X-ray gun that can identify the different minerals in a rock, and  then left behind water samples to be tested, so we look forward to hearing what was found in them soon! In humanities class, Becca and Alexa took us to visit the local Climax Mine that reopened in 2012. We also got to visit a museum where we saw different exhibits that demonstrated what mining looked like back in the day. It was fun to look around and we completed a worksheet about mining in Leadville, which made the trip in the museum a little bit like a scavenger hunt. Overall, it was a lot of fun to learn about both the water and mining history of Leadville.

Throughout the week, our wonderful instructors Jack, Barrett, and Allie taught us to fly fish. On Monday, we spent an hour and a half on dry land, using yarn in place of fishing line, in an effort to grasp the notoriously difficult fly-fishing cast. “Ten-to-Two!” Jack told us as we attempted to move our arms in a motion that was supposed to resemble a clock. After an hour and a half, we had learned the basics of the swing and played sharks and minnows. On Wednesday morning, we donned our fishing attire at 9:00 A.M. and marched off to the bus. It was a dreary day: cloudy, cold, and rainy. We arrived at Diamond Lake and began to assemble our rods. When we had fully built our rods and strung them with line, we spread out along the lake’s surface and began to cast. Yanfei started the group off strongly and a caught fish on her first cast. After that, our spirits began to rise as many others began to get nibbles. In the end, many people lost their lures, and fish got away but spirits remained high as we continued to perfect our casts. As the day progressed, the cold weather and rain began to dampen our morale, and cause us to lose feeling in our fingers as well. At about noon, we called off our mission arrived back on campus at 12:30, and watched the movie, A River Runs Through It, both to focus on fishing and to learn lessons about life. Tomorrow, we return to fishing, and attempt to improve our luck from our first outing.

While one group was out fly-fishing, another began an introduction to climbing by fitting our climbing shoes and harnesses. We also began working on technique in the rock gym and learned to belay, tie a few basic knots, and follow safety precautions. On Wednesday we planned to do some of our first non-gym climbing,  but our plans were interrupted by heavy rain. We took this opportunity to have a leisurely walk through the boulder fields near the face we had planned to climb, followed by some more gym climbing. Tomorrow we hope to have our first ascent on real rock, before we move to fly fishing on Monday!

As we settle into our daily lives on campus at HMI, we have quickly realized that every day is packed full of challenging and exciting adventures. Going on expedition was a huge leap of faith for most of the students, a wild new experience that challenged and enthralled us. But since we got back to campus and again have grow accustomed to sleeping with pillows, eating real food and not carrying all we own on our backs, we students have been enjoying our action-packed days. Since we’ve returned, we have toured the town, climbed boulders, fished and more. Importantly though, we have also had some time to wind down from the whirlwind of campus life and classes. For example, on Thursday, every student had the chance to choose from four activities to participate in, designed by the interns. The activities offered a chance to let loose and have fun. The choices were a tour of the fish hatchery, a spa pedicure along with a discussion of water sources and issues, a rejuvenating yoga class, and rock climbing while jamming out to some killer tunes. Each intern was super excited about the activity they had created, and we students felt the same way. When the activities had ended, we came out of the buildings exclaiming about how good of a stretch we got in yoga, the new move we had learned in rock climbing, how we finally had clean feet again, or shared some new facts we learned about fish. A busy day had come to the perfect end, and left the community buzzing with energy and positivity. Tomorrow, Friday, we look forward to another fun chance to be silly together at the community-wide square dance!

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