Today we woke up in the wilderness and went to bed in our cabins. After long and exciting expeditions in the beautiful backcountry of Colorado, we got to come back to our beloved HMI campus for a week of fun activities and writing classes. While everyone had a great time with their group, we were all ecstatic to greet each other off the bus. After all the warm hellos, our instructors guided us to de-issue and clean all of the gear we had used while on exped. We split into groups and finished in record time with the incentive of a cheeseburger lunch and hot showers on our minds. After a bit of free time, everyone loaded up for a quick trip to turquoise lake. Although the water was cold as ice, many people jumped at the chance to sport wade. To finish up our first night, we all feasted on pizza and cozied up in the library to watch movies.
Since we had just gotten back from a long, yet seemingly short expedition, we were able to sleep in for the day and were welcomed back with warm, syrupy pancakes. After a hardy brunch of five pancakes and tons of fruit, we had some activities to join in on. One group went to do laundry, which was smelly from our eleven-day backpacking trip, while the other group made, cards, collages, and maybe some frustrating puzzles that had more than enough missing pieces. Later, we had fun in an interesting and engaging writing class. After, we had some free time to go bouldering in the gym on campus, just hang out with friends singing songs and playing musical instruments, or play a quick game of ultimate frisbee. The game was played on campus and I am proud to say the team I played on took the victory.
We started our day off with cream cheese bagels and hot cocoa, we made our lunches and put them in identical white paper bags and set off to the bouldering rocks a couple minutes from campus. We arrived at the enormous rocks and ate our lunch while we waited for the staff set up the crash pads. After a quick show of how to belay and properly climb rocks, (which doesn’t seem like a hard task but we all quickly found out how tough it can be) all of our group made it to the top of the boulders at least once and were all having a blast before we were sadly rained out and had to leave an hour early. Since our rock climbing journey was cut short we played a couple rounds of capture the flag. The rounds became an intense battle of wits but in the end we all had fun running around trying to get the flags to the other side. After the game of capture the flag we are all given free time to hang out amongst ourselves.
After an early breakfast, we headed off to Kodi rafting. We were fit with PFDs and helmets before we set off on our journey down the Arkansas River. Accompanied by five amateur comedians otherwise known as our raft guides, we began our 14-mile river adventure. Starting off mellow, my guide, named “Catfish”, pointed out some of the prominent features located on either side of the river. We saw all kinds of things, from unique boulders and rock faces to a bridge used to film Indiana Jones. Slowly but surely we picked up speed hitting thrilling class III and IV rapids. After a break for lunch we continued with the rest of or trip. When we began to approach Seidel’s rapid, our guide warned us of its size rapid and explained we would have to paddle the hardest we had that day. With the mystery rapid lurking in the distance we all tucked in our feet tight and braced ourselves. We were splashed and rocked when all of a sudden Jack fell out of the raft! He was quickly thrown a rope by some rafting bystanders and pulled back into the boat by Emma. Luckily enough the only damage done was a lost pair of sunglasses and shoes. Once the frantic moment had passed we nervously laughed off the whole experience and ended our epic trip.
We began the day with a great writing class talking about how to peer edit each other’s work. All week we have been working on the first draft draft of our essay and taking classes everyday to improve it. Continuing on after writing we geared up with climbing shoes, harnesses, and helmets for our day of top rope climbing. A short bus ride and a hike later and we were at the wall where we would spend the rest of the day. There were four routes to choose from ranging from beginner to intermediate. Taking turns climbing, belaying, and back up belaying, we all got our chance at scrambling up the wall.
We had been eagerly awaiting this day since we had returned to campus. Finally we would get to explore Leadville: the town that has been, and would be our home for five weeks. With everyone split into advisory groups, we jetted off to town. While some went to Tennessee Pass Cafe, we decided to eat at High Mountain Pies for some delicious pizza. When we were all finished with lunch everyone raced to the Melanzana store for their chance to get a micro grid hoodie. They are all the rage up here! With Mellies in hand we sauntered around the rest of the main street, buying ice cream, sorting through thrift shops and taking in the local culture of Leadville. When we returned to campus, each cabin had prepared an act for the talent show. Eager to show off our silly skit, cabin three opened. We showcased a french cooking show where one girl acted as the face of the character and a partner acted as the arms. Everyone laughed along as the girls hands fumbled spilling cereal and milk all over the floor of the stage. Next, Theirno debuted some ‘original’ jokes, Cabin four did a musical number and Cabin five did a hilarious song mashup. Charlie and Bennett began on guitar and piano with ‘Thinking Out Loud’ only to be interrupted by Henry and Matt in Ariana Grande fashion singing ‘Seven Rings’. We finished off the night with an epic dance party and campfire songs on the porch.
The day before we leave for our second expedition we were tasked with preparing food rations for our groups and packing up all of our gear into our backpacks. We were also placed into the groups that we will be spending the next eleven days with. Once our backpacks were filled to the brim with gear, we spent the rest of the day hanging out with each other. When dinner had finished up we joyously moseyed over to the parking lot for square dancing, laughing while we all stomped on one another’s feet.