By Devon and Carter.
Ah, the Kofa Wildlife Refuge. Our final expedition of this program was jam-packed with both fun and challenging days. As we rolled into the wilderness refuge we quickly became acquainted with a slightly malicious species of cactus called the Teddy Bear Cholla. Don’t let it’s cute name fool you–this thing is a plant straight from your nightmares. However, after some practice, pulling these barbed spines out of various parts of your body becomes nothing more than a chore.
Our first half of exped yielded objectively the two hardest hikes of our semester. The first being a 12-mile day up and down drainages to reach a bowl at the front of the Kofa Mountains. It was a tiring day, but our determined spirits got us through the last few miles of the day. However, it wasn’t the heat or the seemingly never-ending drainages that made this day so challenging, it was the fact that we had to carry 10 liters of water on our backs. This activity is called “dry camping” and is often required in desert environments with less-reliable water sources. After a long day of hiking, many chugged a liter of water as we debriefed–yes, freshwater–we love it! Oh, but if you thought Trek’s trying times were at an end you’d surely be mistaken. On the following marrow, we ambitiously ascended Squaw peak via a perilous route up jagged and loose boulders, but did Trek despair in our hardest hour? I say, Nay! We got to the top and kept going for miles and miles along the cliff ridge. When we reached Willows Bank water tank, we were dismayed to find that there was less water than we anticipated. Ben cried out “how art thou to survive in the desert with no Sustenance!” (in case you couldn’t tell we spent the day re-creating Shakespearean accents to buoy spirits). We then retraced our steps 1.5 miles back to a different water source that we knew would be reliable.
All in all, the KOFA provided a challenging, yet rewarding, last place to spend time as a group together. A huge thanks to our intrepid Student Planned Expedition Leaders, Nina, and Annika, for all their hard work and planning.
To conclude this blog post series and to help us reflect on what we learned this semester we’d like to include Mack’s “full circle.” Full Circle is an HMI tradition. Each student writes a reflection on their semester journey and shares it out loud with the group.
Mack’s “7 principles to live by”
1) Be Present. There is no sense in worrying about the future when you can only control the current moment. Here, I learned to take things day by day. I loved how much we embodied this over the course of our semester–this was a needed shift in mindset.
2) Love people despite their flaws, and cut yourself slack too. We’re all still learning how to be human, so be patient with others and yourself as you figure it out.
3) Less is more. You will never be happy with what you have if you’re always craving more, even if it’s not material. Like HMI says, “simple in means, rich in ends.”
4) Learn from those unlike you. Embrace different kinds of people with open arms, because that will teach you more about the world than any book ever could. Closing yourself off is a disservice.
5) Embrace Challenge: All hard moments will pass. When you finally climb the mountain, whether physical or mental, you will likely find yourself impressed with your capabilities. When you shy away from challenges, you miss an opportunity for self-betterment.
6) There is more than just one path in life. My favorite thing about the adults here is their commitment to happiness. As the brilliant Robert Frost said, take the road less traveled. I hope I have the courage to live like that one day.
7) Always stay humble and kind. Okay, I can’t take credit for that because I stole it from Tim McGraw, but I still view them as two crucial guiding principles of life. When you snap at someone, swallow your pride and apologize. Offer that helping hand even when you think you can’t. When you get too proud to stormproof, remember nature has ways of humbling you. There will always be something more powerful than me. If I stay humble and kind, I will always have something to be proud of.
Below you can watch a video made by Nina that captures the spirit of our semester together!