HMI Gap – The Mystical Midcountry

Wilderness Group (F-Trek)

Written by Ally Pyne

HMI Gap Wilderness Semester basecamp in MoabGreetings from the midcountry – a mystical land that is not quite the isolated escape of the backcountry yet does not offer the wholehearted interconnectedness of the frontcountry. In our past week living in the midcountry, base-camped along the Colorado River near Moab, Utah, we’ve found ourselves with more time and more to think about than how to simply survive and get from point A to point B. We’ve had time in the peaceful respite of the our campground nestled in the Moonflower Canyon to have conversations that extend beyond the getting-to-know-you stage; we’ve had time for impromptu (and rather long) dance parties to Earth, Wind, and Fire, recounting of stories about childhood pets, and many gourmet meals – including hockey carrot curry, pasta primavera, peach rice pudding, and cinnamon buns.

HMI Gap Trail Work with Trail MixAfter arriving and getting settled in, we met Maddie of the Grand County Trail Mix, a group that works with land managers to steward public land around Moab, for a briefing on the trail work we would complete. The work we did on the Hidden Valley trail was quite well-received by our group and the many hikers that passed us by. “It was so rewarding to see the direct benefits of our efforts as we were working,” remarked Coleman. Graham agreed, adding, “Trail Mix also made it clear that our service was really going to help out the fragile desert ecosystems surrounding the trail.”

Our productive days of trail work were interspersed with days of rock climbing and learning technical skills in preparation for our canyons expedition, led by the fabulous new addition to our instructor team, Brad. Many new climbers in our group tried out crack climbing for the first time and did an incredible job. We practiced rappelling at a crag in the La Sal mountains, which were recently dusted in snow, overlooking the vast canyon country below. The next day, we basked in the warm sun at the Ice Cream Parlor, a popular local climbing spot.

HMI Gap Wilderness and Conservation SemesterWhile our days were filled with trail work, rock climbing, and exploring downtown Moab, many folks in the group described our base camping experience as “rejuvenating” and “relaxing.” The highlights of our week certainly included informal, organic group bonding and small, yet unforgettable moments that will etch themselves into our memories of this incredible experience. Gabe remarked that the group was beginning to feel like a family, and “this was an experience [he] could imagine recreating with friends and family from back home.” Many agreed that the land of the mystical midcountry is something special that we would love to share with the other people in our lives (like those of you reading this post!)

We hope you’ve been enjoying your Octobers, wherever you are, and we cannot wait to reconnect with you all after our 14-day canyons expedition in Bears Ears.   

Sending love,

Ally and the rest of F-Trek