Semester 48: Ski Racing, Snow Science, Bonfires, & Chores

Written by: Noah, Chloe, Cal, & Pearl

The Leadville Loppet: A few days after we returned to campus following our first expedition, we heard rumors that we would be participating in a cross country ski race the very next weekend. Still dazed and in awe from the fast paced start of the semester, news of the race was met with a variety of feelings—many students had never even clipped into cross country skis before. The Leadville Loppet, the race we were to ski, is a 10k ski race, and we expected the best athletes of Leadville to be there. Nerves were high. Once it was confirmed that students would be racing, we woke up at 6:30 am on our morning exercise days to train; we slipped, raced, skied, and fell on the cross country ski trails behind campus. The day of the race came upon us quickly. Dressed in dinosaur onesies, hot pink bathing suits, and cowboy hats, we all piled onto HMI buses for the race of our lives. Personally, I suffered some major losses even before the race started—I forgot my ski poles on campus… Thankfully, my advisor helped me forage for some poles, and the race began. It was truly epic. I fell three times in the first half mile, ending up dead last. Harnessing my embarrassment into uphill strength, I ascended the first major hill and skied so hard I almost made it back to the front of the pack. Hitting the finish line was pure bliss. The cheers of classmates and Leadvillians helped me through to the end, and once I unclipped my boots I got to share some Blueberry Soup (a Loppet tradition) with classmates and locals. I spent the next hour cheering on my classmates and the other finishers, feeling a sense of pride for the HMI Pikas. When the last HMI student crossed the finish line, we cheered and piled into the vans again. We were happy to head back home knowing we had completed a full ski race together. 

First Weeks of Academics: So far, I have absolutely adored the academics at HMI. The teachers here strive to create connections with their students and value their input in class. In history class this week, we learned about the difference between the banking model of education (essentially lecturing, note-taking, memorization and tests) and the problem posing model of education (which stresses group discussions and the fact that both the student and teacher have valuable knowledge to share in class). Not only has this problem posing model of education been employed in my history class, but also in my math, English, Ethics of the Natural World, and science classes. Another aspect of HMI’s academics that I have enjoyed are the hands-on labs that our environmental science classes offer. Every period that I’ve had science, we’ve gone outside to interact with the natural world. Last Saturday, we dug a pit in the snow to observe the different layers in the snow and the different types of snowflakes that fall in Leadville. In our Ethics of the Natural World class, we had a debate pertaining to animal husbandry. It was a great way to practice debate-like public speaking, and was a very engaging class. All in all, my experience with HMI’s academics has been extremely positive so far.

Bonfire & Card Games on Campus: Last Friday night was a good one. A couple of students (me included) dug out HMI’s campus firepit and built a massive bonfire for the entire semester community to enjoy. We made s’mores and debated the best way to toast a marshmallow (sadly, we did not come to a consensus). It was a really nice feeling to be all together, and the bonfire kept us warm against the cold. Later that night, it was time for Leadvegas (Leadville Vegas, for those who don’t know). Everyone dressed up in their best and silliest outfits and played poker and the card game “sandwich.” We had a great time. Who’s Hall, the dining and gathering area on campus, was full with good music and laughter—the night ended with a student led mosh pit to the song “Don’t Stop Believing,” which included people on shoulders and general chaos. It was a good night.

Chores, Cook Crew, & Cabins: Life on campus at HMI is incredible!  From chores, to cook crew, to cabin life, residential life is amazing. This week is our second full week on campus, and everyday there’s something new to be excited about. Some of the most important aspects of the community here at HMI stem from student engagement in residential life. For twenty minutes every morning, each student participates in chores to give back to the community and keep our home clean. For many, this can be extremely meditative and an absolute blast (even if you’re cleaning toilets). I absolutely love my chore and have so much fun listening to music in Who’s Hall while cleaning with my friends. Another thing I love about being on campus is participating in cook crew twice a week. At home, I spend lots of time in the kitchen and being in the kitchen at HMI is one of my favorite parts of campus life. Every meal feels so much more special knowing that my friends made it. Also, whenever I’m in the kitchen, I learn something new about myself, my friends, and cooking! Even though we’ve only been in our cabins for about two weeks, I’ve grown so close to my cabin mates. At the end of a long day, I walk down the boardwalk to a space that has become my home. Sitting in front of the warm fire with my cabin mates and talking about anything and everything on our minds has become a part of my daily routine. It’s also something that I look forward to everyday. The friendships I’ve formed in my cabin are some of the most genuine and loving friendships I’ve ever created. 

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