The HMI Summer Expedition is off to a great start! Seventeen students arrived on Sunday, July 5th and headed out into the wilderness yesterday on their 14-day backpacking expedition.
Students spent the first three days on our campus getting to know each other, setting community expectations, taking short acclimatization hikes, and preparing to spend the next two weeks backpacking in the Sawatch Range. As is always the case with new groups, there was a tangible mix of nervous energy and excitement among the students as they start to get to know HMI and each other.
On Tuesday the students finished rationing food and learning how to set up their tents and operate their stoves. Afterward, the two groups spent a relaxing afternoon at Turquoise Lake, shared a final dinner at HMI, and enjoyed a movie before bed. Yesterday morning both buses were loaded up and out of the driveway by 9:30 am.
Students and staff have gracefully adapted to our new COVID-19 operating plan. This started with a two-week quarantine and COVID-19 test before arrival, followed by another round of testing here in Leadville. On-campus, have been practicing excellent hygiene and handwashing, operating as two independent groups, and spending as much time as possible outside. When we are inside, we have maintained physical distancing and mask-wearing at all times. We are all learning as we go, but thus far it has felt like our protocols are mitigating risk without compromising the efficacy of our program.
On the first night, I shared one of my favorite poems by Wendell Berry that feels particularly felicitous in these times, and I would love to share it with you as well:
“The Peace of Wild Things”
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free
All the best,
Director of Summer Programs and Wilderness Coordinator