Group A: Angie, Cede, Lauren, Kevin, Shaq, Aiden, Hannah, Hope, Josh, and Sarah
On our first night we refueled with cheesy mac and cheese, ready for our second day of hiking through gorgeous aspen groves. Grace saved the day by teaching (and implementing!) blister treatment and we all began to get in the routine of cooking on our camp stoves, setting up tarps, and sometimes sleeping out under the stars! On day three we hiked in a dry creek-bed until we finally found a spring to give our heads a much-needed dunk. During our layover day at Little Brown’s Creek we worked on creating a geologic timeline of the Rocky Mountains and creating our own naturalist guides. For dinner, we had a backcountry pizza party! We celebrated Kevin’s birthday on day 6 with a mellow hiking day and our first afternoon thunderstorm.
The remainder of our trip included two more layover days. We attempted to summit Mount Antero, ate pancakes for breakfast, debated the difference between nature and wilderness, slept outside, and still made time for humanities class, science class, and study hall. All in all the expedition was a success!
Group B: Claire R, Harper, Helen, Tanja, Lucas, Cesar, Maia, Edgar, Sallie, and Sidney
Throughout the course of our ten day backpacking trip we traveled through the Sawatch Range, cresting the Continental Divide and camping at many different lakes and streams. We were exposed to many new experiences and adventures as we accomplished goals and came together as a group. On the first night we learned how to cook cheesy pesto pasta on a WhisperLite stove and by the third evening we were all crying (out of inspiration, out of vulnerability) in a circle together.
On our fifth day (4th of July!), we tested our limits scrambling up a steep exposed hill with heavy backpacks on. It was exhilarating for some and nerve-wracking for others, but with everyone’s support we came together as a group and were rewarded with a beautiful view from the top of the Continental Divide. The next day we continued of 4th of July celebrations during our layover day with a homemade cake from the instructors, an “alpine pineapple,” and a talent show.
Our backcountry cooking skills tremendously improved throughout the trip—by the end we had all learned how to cook pizza, cinnamon rolls, pancakes, and many other creations. Even though one cook-group forgot their spice kit and another had a little too much “trail spice,” everyone enjoyed eating delicious food.
On trail, we learned how to read and orient maps, and all took turns being Leader of the Day (LOD)—this entailed leading the group from point A to point B while setting and finding the route. As far as learning goes we had science, humanities, and Practices and Principles class. We discussed the importance of the wilderness and explored how humans are connected to nature.
After 10 days we were definitely ready for a hot shower (not that the lake showers were not great), but we were also sad that our great expedition was ending and our close-knit group was splitting up. We will forever remember the “alpine pineapple” and hunkering down in hail and thunderstorms, but most importantly we will remember our fun-loving group. We will never be able to relive this experience with such an amazing group of people!
Group C: Jordyn, Laisha, Sebastien, Sam, Brett, Claire B, Nick, Henry, Lili
Our first 10-day expedition in the Rocky Mountains was an incredible and rewarding experience for all. After hiking uphill on our first day, we were rewarded by a beautiful, picturesque campsite, without (as we would later appreciate) as many mosquitoes as our other campsites. On day two, we hiked up a steep pass, had lunch on the top, and hiked down through a forest, where we marveled at the many beautiful wildflowers on our path. Day three was one of our more difficult days, but our long hike ended with our arrival at our first layover site. Day five included some classes, some catching up with our trip advisors, and everyone setting up their kitchens close together and making some delicious backcountry pizza. On day six, we hiked up to the Continental Divide Trail, where we spent the next four days hiking.
Another highlight included the 4th of July “fireworks” display (which was a distant lightning storm). The following layover days were spent at a very cool marshy meadow. We took showers in a freezing cold waterfall and spent time having classes in the meadow.