Blog

Gear Up for Good

Written by: Chap Grubb (Semester 21 alum)
May 23, 2019

“In wildness is the preservation of the world.” – Henry David Thoreau

Hello! My name is Chap Grubb. I went to HMI back in 2008, as a member of RMS XXI. My time exploring the wilderness with Molly and Danny made me the man I am today. The choices I have made to this point are a direct result of learning in the Rockies with mentors and peers. I used to think I hated everything about school—but, HMI taught me how much I love to learn. The lessons taught through those formative months so many moons ago still advise me.

I am so grateful for my opportunity to have experienced such a legendary approach to teaching. My goal for the past decade has been to make outdoor education, and wilderness in general, more accessible, while maintaining a strong moral compass and respect for the undisturbed wild.

I wasn’t quite sure how I planned to accomplish that ambitious goal. I studied English, Education and Linguistics at the University of Colorado in Boulder, CO. I considered teaching. I studied Wilderness Medicine. I lived in a Westfalia. I climbed. I skied. I rafted. I guided.

I have been blessed to experience so many of the complex systems that make adventure sports exhilarating and safe. It is so important that we help facilitate both access and education for all wilderness sports. This is about training humans, young and old, to appreciate, respect, preserve and advocate for Mother Nature. This thinking is a direct result of the discipline and education I received at HMI.

To pay it forward, I created a business that hopes to achieve this goal. The company is named The Rerouted Co-op. We are a new way to buy and sell used outdoor gear on the internet. Our focus is to get gear back in the mountains and provide additional funding for local, wilderness charities. We are encouraging people to not hold onto their gear until it’s outdated and only a collectible. The Rerouted Co-op is gearing up for good in many ways. Supporting other small businesses, up-cycling all equipment, and making accessing the outdoors more affordable.

We accept both consignments (we take the photos and do all the work, you get the money) and full donations. On consignments, The Rerouted Co-op gives 10% of profit back to wilderness charities. Donations will earn 60% of the total sale for local wilderness charities and nonprofits. HMI will be an option for people to choose to donate to when selling or donating gear through The Rerouted Co-op. We are gearing up for good and ready to rock and roll.

The High Mountain Institute achieved its mission when it came to young Chap Grubb. I am a die-hard adventure athlete and passionate wilderness advocate. I connected with nature, became a leader, became a critical thinker, and fell in love with learning. The lessons I learned at HMI inspired me to bring The Rerouted Co-op to life. I am ecstatic about the responses I have received across the board. We are actively growing relationships with the Access Fund, Leave No Trace, and the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, in addition to HMI.

The rerouted co-op is currently planning Gear Up events (collection and sales) in our home state of New Mexico and the front range of Colorado around Memorial Day weekend. We are actively accepting consignments and donations—building inventory is our most pressing goal. If you have any gear to sell through our program, and are interested in earning money for HMI—PLEASE CONTACT US.

We are easy to find on the web—www.reroutedcoop.com. Our social media handle across the board is @reroutedcoop. Additionally, my email address is chapgrubb@reroutedcoop.com and my phone number is (575)-741-6153. Either find us at one of our Gear Up events (schedule coming out shortly) or contact us directly to organize a pick up.

I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Ed Abbey’s Desert Solitare, “wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.” There is no better way to sum up our mission at The Rerouted Co-op. #gearupforgood.

Semester 42: A Week in the Life

Written by: Annabel, Anna, & Will
May 13, 2019

As the semester is coming to a close, our lives have become increasingly filled with intense activity and excitement for the future. It can get a little stressful sometimes, so the weekends are a great way to relax our minds. As the days get warmer, we’ve all been enjoying time outside slacklining, playing Frisbee, and just hanging out in the sun. Two Saturdays ago, after taking the SAT at Lake County High School, we had some time to hang out in town, followed by a square dance before dinner! Everyone dressed in their best western attire, and we were professional dancers by the end of the night. After dinner, we rearranged Who’s Hall into a movie theater and had an “HMI Film Festival” where students could show their videos they made during expedition to the whole community, followed by an impromptu dance party before bed! The next day, we had 2 hours of solo time, and then drove down to Buena Vista to play soccer, eat food, and hang out in the warm weather. Everyone was ecstatic to be able to hang out together again after expedition, and this weekend helped us relieve the stress of taking the SAT and the ramping up of academics in the coming weeks.

Last week, we woke up to eight and a half inches of fresh snow. Prom was on Saturday which meant that prom proposals were a daily occurrence last week, especially during meals. From food-based asks to full-on skits, the campus was full of excitement for prom. Some memorable prom proposals were Caroline D’s biscuit prom ask to Ayden that included her whole cabin prancing in the snow and Coco’s stolen portrait ask to Carly which involved half of the administration as well as a multi-part set up. Among the prom craze and plenty of fresh powder, student led cook crews have begun shaking up the usual campus menus during these remaining weeks. Here, residential life is buzzing with activity from Frisbee throwing challenges over the East building to music jam session in the cabin at night!

At HMI we read… a lot. A typical day of school includes two to five classes filled with discussions, analysis, group collaboration, and the occasional set of notes. Each class is taken four times in a six-day school week, and often has some sort of reading, writing, or assessment homework between each class. In science, we write a book chapter every week, accompanied by reading for lab day, and reading for discussion. In English, we read a section of a book or a reading about the American west. History class often has a few readings to be discussed as well as a writing assignment. In Practices & Principles: Ethics of the Natural World (also know as P&P), the one class a week outlier, has multiple readings about the same topic to be discussed and responded to. Math class requires little reading, but does have take home assessments every week. All of this combined seems daunting, but after a week of school here you figure out a system to get all of your work done, and you become a pro at reading and annotating. All academics at HMI revolve around the West and understanding the different points of view or ethics that are found here, with the exclusion of a group work-based math class. In general, the academics here are engaging, hands on, and a ton of fun. They let you and your peers discover things, without boring monotonous notes, and the ever-increasing pressure of traditional grades. Feedback is also key all curriculum here and is provided on a four point scale that lets you know how you are doing and what you can improve on, instead of a letter grade that tells you little about what needs to be improved.

Semester 42: Third Expedition

Written by: Lucia, Caroline D., Evan, Jacob, & Alana
May 9, 2019

Group A: Being only with women for 11 days in the back country was an empowering experience. We hiked over 40 miles in Lime and Road Canyons, hiked to see ruins, and did a 10 mile day hike to see Neville’s Arch. Each day we awoke to the warm desert sunlight on our faces— we never slept in our tarps— and the sounds of others waking up and packing their bags. We proved to be better at navigation than we thought, and the lack of adult authority taught us how to resolve conflict and talk to each other in a healthy way. We completed wilderness first aid and got Independent Student Travel (IST) the second day that we hiked. Although being without Emily and Renee (our expedition leaders) was hard at times, having a student leader and all being able to participate in group decisions brought us closer than we ever thought possible. At the end of each day we would laugh and cry, sharing memories and making so many more. We fell asleep to the soft snoring of our tarp mates, and the millions of stars above our heads.

Group B: For our third expedition, we headed to the San Rafael Swell in Utah. When we arrived, we were surprised to see so much plant life, as our first trip to the canyons had been pretty barren. We rarely slept in our tarps, instead choosing to sleep under the stars. We did get a bit of rain, however, and a lightning storm struck just as we were doing a river crossing on our fourth day, our first day of Independent Student Travel, or IST. Everyone in the water was quickly helped out, with Fran and Eliza taking packs. We stayed on other sides of the river until the lightning passed. River crossings were more common than expected due to this winter’s record snowfall. It all melted into the rivers, so where the maps showed a path between the canyon wall and the rover, there was none. We didn’t let it break morale, though—we found ways to cross and stayed positive, always singing. Our expedition group was probably more often singing than not. Some favorites were the national anthem and Sweet Child O’ Mine. We also learned and practiced rounds of a song called “Dominica,” which we then performed at dinner when we got back to campus. Another thing that kept our spirits high was the Lord Of The Rings theme Jacob employed. Our mission was to throw a ring that we took turns wearing around our necks on a cord. Each of our campsites was given a LOTR-inspired name. Some highlights were Rivendell, where we had our first layover day; Isengard, where we got to see the other expedition group that was in the Swell; and our last campsite at the gates of Mordor. In the morning of our second-to-last hiking day, we had a naming ceremony where Jacob gave us all character names, then we hiked up a mesa. On our very last day of hiking, we went down into a canyon where we met a cowboy who gave us directions. We followed the map to Mordor, which was a huge, beautiful, amphitheater-like canyon. We threw the ring in and celebrated, then completed our hike to the bus.
On the last night, we stayed at an established campsite with a campfire. We took turns staying up and stoking the fire, reflecting on our final expedition with HMI. We were sad to leave the canyons, but excited to visit the supermarket for fresh fruit and lemonade.

Group C: After about 8 hours of driving with two stops the boys made it to Utah. Based in cedar Mesa, we started our journey with a day hike to the citadel which is a unique cliff dwelling connected by a land bridge. After our day hike we dropped down into Road Canyon where we spent four out of our eleven days. On day four when we arrived to our site, we decided to camp on top of the canyon. From there, we had views of the whole valley, the canyons, and Bears Ears. From this site we were able to explore a new canyon section never before explored by and HMI group. The following hiking day was the longest of the trip, nine miles, exiting one canyon and entering a whole new one and at the end. During the last two miles, we saw our first glimpse of freedom from the I-team which marked the beginning is IST, or Independent Student Travel. We hiked in Fish and Owl Creek Canyon for a few days before we got to a site where we did a day hike to Neville’s Arch. That afternoon, we had an enlightening four-hour solo and the true beginning of IST. For the last three days of the trip, we hiked closer and closer to the bus until one day, we got to the bus. The next day we got up at 5:45 AM and made on our way back to HMI with excitement for the future and smiling faces.

Group D: For the first four days of expedition, we camped in Lime Canyon. We found amazing places to camp at all of our campsites because Lime Canyon is very wide and does not have steep walls. We had our layover day on our third day in Lime Canyon. We took our free day to do a lot of wilderness first aid training. That night, we had a group kitchen where we made pizza and hung out. While hiking the last couple days in Lime Canyon, we saw some amazing views and took some amazing pictures. On our last day in Lime Canyon, we had a push day where we hiked nine miles. We were supposed to climb out of Lime Canyon, walk on Cedar Mesa, and finally descend into Road Canyon, but somewhere along that long arduous hike, we got lost, and we ultimately did not make it to our X. So, instead, we camped with another HMI group about a mile and a half from where we were supposed to enter Road Canyon. That night, we did a group circle with the other group and talked about the awesome times we had had so far. The next day, while hiking along the road, we had amazing views of Bears Ears National Monument, but the highlight of the day, and maybe the expedition, was when we ran into several trail Santas. The trail Santas gave us clean water and tons of snacks. After about ten more minutes of hiking, we arrived at the mouth of Road Canyon where we waited for our Instructor Team. We decided to go on a day hike along the edge of the canyon to the Citadel where there were beautiful and perfectly intact cave dwelling ruins. We dropped into the canyon later that day where we camped for two nights. On our last night, we camped at Neville’s Arch and did our final circle. Overall, our exped was amazing full of hilarious moments and amazing views.

Group E: On First and Second Expedition, and I didn’t feel like I proved my outdoor competency, but in the San Rafael Swell it felt natural. The weather, my group, and the Instructor Team truly shone on this trip. I fell in love with the outdoors again while backpacking through those canyons. The circles we had made us talk, laugh, and sit in silence. In those canyons I thought about the future. I thought about how I could stay out there forever. We talked about HMI being over and were content with our trip being at the conclusion. Now, when I look back to Third Expedition, I think about when our laughs banged against the canyon walls in a chorus of echos. I read my journal entries and will forever be on the lookout for similar experiences and feelings. I’ll be looking for warmth, companionship, and togetherness. I’ll be looking for an experience that only the ones out there with me understand. I’ll be looking for a true connection.

Grounding Our Sense of Place

Written by: Claire Sutton (Admissions Associate & Gap Faculty) & Barrett Donovan (Alumni & Development Associate)
April 26, 2019

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself: What is the history of the land I’m standing on? Through whose hands has it passed ownership? How can we acknowledge these histories?

Throughout all HMI programs, a key part of our school’s mission is to engage students with the natural world.

During the HMI Semester, each student takes the course “Practices and Principles; Ethics of the Natural World.” This class is designed to “challenge [students] to think critically about the way in which [they]…interact with, use and think of the natural world.” HMI Semester students spend roughly one-third of their semester sleeping under the stars, and exploring what it means to be a thoughtful citizen and steward of the places we travel through.

During our Gap Semesters, students complete a robust Environment Studies curriculum. We ask them to consider: “Are humans part of, or separate, from nature?” Gap students spend close to 60 days immersed in a backcountry environment.

Fundamental to any HMI student experience is this bold union of rigorous intellectual inquiry and experiential learning.

We hope that out of our students’ inquiry into the land we live, learn and play on, and through their experiences with it, that they develop what we call a “ sense of place.”  

To have a “sense of place” is to have a connection, relationship, or attachment to a place that results from experiences and memories associated with a place. Through a rooted understanding of “sense of place,” people form values associated with land. Land holds many emotions for humans: it is nostalgic, it is peaceful, it is traumatic or it is sacred. Sometimes land is “useful” or deemed “useless.”

Our students, current and former, are connected by powerful associations with the land that we built our school on. These places feel uniquely “ours.” The sense of belonging these shared places foster are why when any alumni walk in the door at HMI for a visit we say “welcome home.”

The lands our community associates as homethe deep canyons of Bears Ears National Monument, the alpine tundra in San Isabel National Forest, or the sagebrush field behind Who’s Hallwere all once home to different peoples. We believe that it is necessary to ground our students’ sense of place by first honoring the people that came before us.

The Ute have hunted game and fished trout in the Sawatch Range and Arkansas Valley for centuriesand many Ute continue to do so today. President Obama declared the Bears Ears region of Utah a National Monument after an inter-tribal coalition made up of Hopi, Zuni, Ute Mountain Ute, Dine, and Ute leaders created a management plan “to assure…the area will forever be managed with the greatest environmental sensitivity…where [they] can be among [their] ancestors…where [they] can connect with the land and be healed.” Before settlers wiped out the entire indigenous populations of Chilean Patagonia, the Mapuche people created elaborate rock art inside their cave dwellings. The lands we love have been loved for centuries before us, and are still loved by indigenous communities today.

As we encourage students to develop a deep “sense of place” while they are at HMI, we must also help them understand that caring for the land we love is an ongoing, nuanced, and complicated act. Without acknowledging that our programs take place on lands with intricate and biased historieslands that have changed hands from indigenous peoples through the often brutal tactics of Western Expansionwe would do a great disservice to the indigenous communities who spent centuries as the stewards and protectors of the places we love, and still continue to steward and protect them today.

To properly engage in the natural world is not an easy task. True engagement requires students to use all of the habits of mind that we hope to instill in them during their HMI experience: accountability and collaboration, critical analysis, curiosity and inquiry, and effective communication. We encourage our students, and the wider HMI community, to use these habits of mind when exploring topics of land stewardship and acknowledgement.

One of the ways that HMI works to acknowledge the traditional indigenous inhabitants of public land is by including land acknowledgements on our social media posts. These land acknowledgements specifically identify the traditional indigenous inhabitants of the land that our students travel through while participating in HMI courses. The US Department of Arts and Culture, a grassroots organization working to shape a culture of empathy, equity, and belonging, writes, “Acknowledgement is a simple, powerful way of showing respect and a step toward correcting the stories and practices that erase Indigenous people’s history and culture and toward inviting and honoring the truth.” To read more about the practice of land acknowledgement, check out Honor Native Lands: A Guide and Call to Acknowledgement.

HMI Gap, Futaleufu, adventure and conservation

We hope that the HMI community at large will join us in acknowledging the traditional indigenous inhabitants of land throughout the United States, and world. We are proud to support land acknowledgement and are excited at the process of continuing to educate our students, and community, about the rich history of the places we have all come to love. 

 

Gap: A Festive Final Expedition

Written by: Selena & Deming
April 16, 2019
In the small town of Villa Cerro Castillo, in the valley below the jagged and fortress-like peaks of Cerro Catillo, we made preparations for our final expedition of the semester. Part of what makes the final expedition at HMI special is that we have the opportunity to earn “Independent Student Travel” or “IST” time. To make this model work we elected a Student Expedition Lead or “SEL.” She held the main vision for our group and actively worked with the instructors to plan what each day would look like. Our SEL coached us to work together as a group to plan out our trip. Each night we gathered to prepare a “Route and Description” or RAD plan. We, as students, were in main control of this expedition.
Hiking in the Cerro Castillo backcountry both stunned and challenged us with its breathtaking beauty and steep, exposed mountain passes. The terrain forced us to use the team-building skills we’d worked up to all semester. We assessed the risk of the scree and loose rocks–putting into practice terrain assessment techniques we’d gathered from a semester’s worth of coaching from instructors. Using our decision-making matrix we decided that it would be safest to cross the furiously windy mountain passes without any breaks. Emboldened by months of hearty adventure, we powered through!  Despite the difficult terrains, we kept our positive attitudes and supported each other throughout the hike. We were rewarded with humbling views of the valley below.  On top of our second pass, we could see Villa Cerro Castillo and an overview of all the rivers and valleys surrounding us. (Personally, I was so appreciative of what I was seeing that I teared up!) Looking back up at the mountains, seeing the places we had been and the trails we took, we felt a deep pride for how far we’d come–both literally and metaphorically since first arriving in Patagonia in February.
After making it through a few difficult days of hiking through mountain passes, we hunkered down to do some volunteer work in the Porteadores campsite. There, we worked with Senderos Patagonia to help clear more camping spaces to reduce the overall environmental impact visitors to the park had on the area. For three days we worked with park employees and learned valuable skills (like how to roll logs downhill!). On day eight of the expedition we headed up the valley we were camping in onward to the Neozelandés campsite, where we planned to complete a 24-hour solo to bring the course to a close. The solo is a cornerstone of any closing to an HMI program. Sometimes students choose to spend a few hours in reflective seclusion from the group and other times–an entire day! Unfortunately, it started raining in the middle of the night so we had to call ours to a close early.  We enjoyed meeting back up and were grateful to be able to stay warm and dry in our tents. We ended that night by making an epic feast from our remaining rations and by playing lots of silly games. That night, a snowstorm hit the higher elevations on the mountains. We woke up in the morning to a gorgeous dusting of powder. This inspired the group to begin singing holiday tunes. On our final day of hiking, we chose to embrace the snowy weather and belted the holiday songs out the entire way down the mountain–it was a definite highlight for everyone!  Now we have the bittersweet final days of saying goodbye to each other and heading back home. Though we’re all excited to see our families, we’ll all miss HMI, Patagonia, the beautiful sights, and the friends we made.

Semester 42: Sunny Days on Campus

Written by: Coco, Grace K, Mika, & Evan
April 2, 2019

As the snow melts and the Sun comes out, people’s smiles get a little bigger every day. Despite the heavy loads of homework, everyone on campus is finding ways to have fun. Many of us have found that going on runs together is something that helps us relax and focus on school work.

This Saturday, we took a trip to Salida to explore the town and to go bowling. It was about an hour long drive filled with car games and loud music. Once we arrived, we split up into groups of six-ish (so we wouldn’t overwhelm the locals) and we hit the town. One group stopped for coffee and candy and then headed to the thrift store at the end of the street. With our bowling shirts purchased and our pockets stuffed with candy, we were ready to bowl. We put the bumpers up and our game faces on, ready to grace the lanes of “Split Happens” with our aggressively mediocre bowling skills. After a night in the alley, we were given ice cream sandwiches and drove back to HMI well fed and happy.

Now that we are in the final swing of academics before spring break, classwork has increased significantly. Our biggest essay thus far was due and, as a community, we all joined together hand-in-hand to edit each others essays and support each other with hugs, candy, music, and songs. Despite academic stress, laughter filled the air during study hall on Sunday night. It is during times like these when the community comes closer together, even if that is through common struggle. Now that most of us have finished our essays, we taken a deep breath of fresh air and start to dream of parents weekend, our planners filled but our spirits higher than ever.

A couple weeks ago after after lunch on a sunny day our Head of School, Danny,  challenged us to race  across our very snowy soccer field. The snow was hard, half melted, and waist deep for many. The race was quite difficult, but we persisted because the prize for the winner was a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Upon hearing this, Cabin 6 decided to do whatever it took to win so that they could share the pint of creamy deliciousness. In the end Cabin 6 won, getting a pint of cookie dough Ben and Jerry’s. Now, the snow on the soccer field is mostly packed down so that we can play snow soccer!

Gap: A Truly Wild Experience in Northern Patagonia’s Ice Fields

Written By: Alexandra Fogel
April 2, 2019

After a week of cultural immersion projects in Chile Chico everyone was eager to sleep under the stars once again. Part of our excitement came from knowing that on this expedition we would partner with Patagonia Frontiers to explore the Northern Patagonian Ice Field and contribute to their study on glacial recession in the area. Our team met Kelly and Felix, our guest instructors, in Puerto Bertrand. From there we combined boat shuttles and a hike to reach our first campsite on the bank of Lago Plomo. It felt amazing to be back out in our element!

With the new course area came new terrain challenges: we endured lots of thorny bushwhacking and frequent fence hopping. It helped that while we made our way through the dense vegetation we were able to keep our destination, Patagonia Frontiers Ranch, in mind. Over ridges and through rivers we would intermittently stop for glaciology lessons presented by Felix.  We eventually reached the ranch on a beautiful sunny day where we met the rest of the Ranch staff. The following morning we embarked on an ambitious hike 2,500 feet up to Valley One. The legendary Patagonian weather we had all been anxiously anticipating joined us halfway through the day. In the cool rain, we marched upwards. Nearing the campsite, we coined the term “alpine surfing” to describe that day’s terrain. We arrived safely, in high spirits, despite the challenging day we’d had.  We were humbled by this new side of Patagonia. The next morning, as we hiked back to spend a few more nights at the ranch, we were greeted by the sunshine and the incredible views we’d missed on the way up. At the Ranch, we took day hikes, practiced research skills, and dried out our gear. Rejuvenated from our stay, we headed out to “Cacho Camp” and then onto “Moraine Camp” While hiking to Moranie camp we noticed the rivers had swollen with water due to the heavy rains we’d experience. Don Mancho and Don Luis, two neighbors of Patagonia Frontiers, provided us horses so we were able to safely cross the strong-flowing river–an unanticipated and totally exciting adventure!

After helping us across the river our new gaucho friends took the time to chat with us and answer our questions about what life is like in such a unique and wild place. We spent two layover days at the Moraine Camp, during which we put our newfound tree-coring skills to use and cored a total of 40 Coigüe trees on the two moraines closest to the glacier. A moraine is a mass of rocks and sediment carried down and deposited by a glacier. As part of the tree-core study, we counted the tree’s rings in the field in order to determine their ages. This data will eventually be used by researchers to find the rate at which the glacier is receding. We also walked up to the very tip of the glacier, called the snout, and got to touch it while watching it ever so slowly create a new moraine. For a large hunk of ice, snow, and debris, the glacier seemed surprisingly alive. Throughout the expedition, we could hear the glacier rumbling, and up at the Moraine Camp it sounded like a jet plane passing overhead. In addition to the gorgeous sights and sounds of the glacier we were lucky enough to see at least four different huemul (a type of rare, native deer) and a condor up close.

When we wrapped up our research at the glacier we crossed two more swollen rivers, again on horseback, to get back to the ranch. Once at the ranch we took advantage of a wide-open field to play an awesome game of kickball before dinner. Our final evening on this expedition consisted of a big, warm campfire and the routine and comforting “evening meeting.” The next morning we bade Kelly, Felix, and the rest of the Patagonia Frontiers crew goodbye before hopping onto a boat that took us back to Puerto Bertrand. On our way back to Chile Chico we stopped in Puerto Gudal for some of their famed sopapillas (fried bread–what’s not to like!) We had an incredible time on this expedition: there was not a single moment without breathtaking views, and we learned so much about glaciology, dendrochronology, and the truly wild place that is Patagonia. This week we’re planning our last expedition of HMI Gap…it is hard to believe just how quickly time is flying by!

Semester 42: Spring in Leadville!

Written by: Lucia, Emma, Russell, and Jacob
March 29, 2019

We have had many visitors on campus lately. From relatives to aspiring science teachers, people keep showing up at our slippery doorstep. Apprentices from Semester 40 arrived yesterday to mingle with the students and showed up just in time to watch us stumble in after our six mile run. Needless to say we weren’t very talkative. The snow has been melting and we have begun to see more of our beautiful HMI campus.

Now that we are back from expedition, we are diving full-force into academic work. In English, we finished the book Ceremony, by Leslie Marmon Silko, that we have been reading for a couple of weeks. Next up, we have a Ceremony essay due, as well as chapter 4 of our science book: The History of Leadville, and an optional response in Practices and Principles: Ethics of the Natural World. Because of all of this work, study halls have been very productive lately, and one of our teachers, Coco, instituted a read aloud for whoever wants to read History or English readings in a group to stay on track.

This past weekend, HMI students suited up in various costumes, including rain pants and 80’s outfits, to compete in the Cabin Throwdown Showdown. Six teams, each compiled of members from the same cabin, participated in battles that challenged their utmost strength, knowledge, and grit. Students answered trivia questions about their cabin mates, blindly created pieces of art, and lip synced to mystery songs. Cabin Seven came in first place, winning the infamous Throwdown Showdown trophy, but Cabin Four was in a close second place after their outstanding Lip Sync to “Mr. Brightside,” which had the whole crowd going wild. Can next semester’s students live up to the outstanding performances seen in this past weekend’s Cabin Throwdown Showdown? The world may never know.

During flex-block (a tech-free period) on Monday the 25th, we ran six miles. As we were running, we looked up from the pavement and found ourselves staring into the sunset over the Sawatch range. This view made us realize how lucky we are to have come to a place like HMI, where during school we run through the mountains and get to experience spring in Colorado to the fullest. As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, students are starting to spend more time outside. During lunch, a group went to play basketball, and another group listened to music outside the Barnes Building at the picnic tables. The sun and light outside are bringing us together and helping us through the stress of studying for the SATs and math assessments.

Semester 42: Second Expedition

Written by: Logan, Helen, Eliza, Owen, and Emma
March 21, 2019

Group A: Second expedition was an adventure in the Colorado back-country, one like no other. Between the curiously strong weather and various challenges with the native wildlife it taught us physical and mental fortitude. There was nothing more satisfying than our first night in the quigloo (a type of snow cave) after a day working tirelessly to hollow it. Or, our first night of appetizers, and the divine smell of the mozzarella sticks. Spending 18 hours in the quigloo taught my group patience and how to make our own fun. The conversations we had in those long days fostered depth of thought and brought us all closer together. And while dragging a 20 pound sled up the mountain was trying; the satisfaction of a summit was unparalleled. Overall, I learned to appreciate the power of type-two fun, or when things are fun only in hindsight.

Group B: There we were, climbing a mountain in the middle of a bomb cyclone, thinking that this would be the end of us. In a sense, Mount Zion was a twisted metaphor for us. We would reach the top, and at the peak of our struggle, we would summit and our hardships became pleasure. Each time we would reach the top, our packs and sleds would get just a little bit lighter. Somehow, through it all, we kept high spirits. We did evacuate at one point to dry out our sleeping bags and clothing. A day or so later we headed back out to that mountain, but that time we did our two day route in a one day haul starting at 6 am. Anticipation and nervousness built up during our previous days on campus, but once we were out there, the skies were clear and our spirits were high. We climbed the entire mountain for our third time by 11 am. But, this time our moods were great for the entirety of the day, almost as if there was a correlation between our happiness and the sun being out. (Hint: there is) We dug out our quigloos and spent the next three days laughing, cooking, vlogging, and free skiing. Spirits were still high as we traveled even further along the ridge of Mount Zion. We spent the sunniest day of our expedition looking out over Leadville, Colorado and Mosquito pass.

In total we spent roughly six days traveling back and forth between our quigloo sites, hiking the mountain, and an additional day and a half huddled in our quigloos for 40 hours. That was quite the experience. If we weren’t already close with our tarp groups by the time the storm hit, we sure were after. What is important to know about the entirety of this expedition, was the energy and sheer mental and physical strength of our expedition leaders. Hayden, Jess, and Renee were absolutely amazing, and there is no doubt in our minds that they worked twice as hard as any of us. From pulling the heaviest sleds, to making back and forth trips for members of the group, and staying up all night to ensure the safety of each tarp group, they really did it all. If it sounds like they’re standing over my shoulders: they’re not. I speak on behalf of our entire expedition group to say that we all feel tremendously in debt to them. Overall a 10 out of 10 experience, and something that none of us will ever forget.

Group C: Step. Step. Step. Miles of stepping and hard breaths. Finally, after a lost water bottle crisis, we arrived at our first campsite with eight sleds and twelve people. Dinner followed shortly after. Mushy rice never tasted so bad and snickers never tasted so sweet. When we woke up, a blizzard was the only view. The following hours were the most hectic of the trip. They consisted of ripped tarps, lost homework and many tears. Accepting our lack of comfort, the day went on. As the sun snuck out from under a blanket of grey clouds, smiles suddenly appeared on all of our faces. Soon our camp was filled with sleeping bags thrown over skis to dry, steam from every pot and pan on stoves working double-time, and the smell of trying bacon encircling our quigloos. Just like that we were off to our second campsite. From buried food bags to sinking ceilings, we were all ready to say a farewell to campsite one. After a sweaty day we were pleasantly surprised with a clear view of Leadville just over the final hill. A snowy forest soon transformed into a little village quigloos and kitchens. The day ended with egg rolls, pink skies, and tag with a view. And then, boom, blizzard number two hit us. Forty eight hours of quigloo time left each group significantly closer than before. The last few days flew by as well as the last scraps of our frozen appetizers. Our final night of this chaotic yet silly expedition was spent under an ombre sky, lots of giggles, and many hugs to be given. Driving back to campus, it felt as if we had just left. It’s safe to say that this is a trip that I will definitely never forget.

Group D: Our expedition, fondly referred to as our beach vacation, took place on Mount Zion. On day zero, we gathered our hiking packs and sleds and started up to the first (and little did we know, only) camp site. There, we made a big group kitchen and dug out our first tarp sites. On day one, we headed up the mountain, passing through a narrow, tree-lined trail to get to our second camp site. That afternoon, we headed back down the mountain to our first site to sleep. We enjoyed an assortment of appetizers as well as a very cheesy dinner. That night, while we were all nestled in our sleeping bags, two mid tarps collapsed from the snow. We were temporarily trapped, but spirits were quickly restored by hot water bottles and milky ways. The next morning, there was some talk about a 24 hour evacuation to HMI to dry out our wet gear and grab new tarps. However, avalanches shut down highways, and evacuation was no longer an option. The next two days were spent mounding, eating, learning, and enjoying the sun (or blizzard.) The next few days we climbed up to the top of the ridge and enjoyed a downhill ski! We also got to see Hayden’s groups. On the last day of skiing, we enjoyed a fresh, frozen pineapple. The last day (the sunniest day) we packed up early, destroyed our kitchens, and headed out to the bus! It was a successful beach vacation to say the least.

Group E: Second expedition was easily one of the hardest but most rewarding experiences of my life. Camping in the Sawatch Mountains, surrounded by beauty, the 13 of us (9 students and 4 instructors) faced some of the toughest winter conditions possible. Not many people in the world can say that they were huddled in a quigloo in the middle of this most recent snowstorm, much less a snowstorm that made national news and shut down the Denver Airport. But this trip wasn’t only survival. We also had so much fun. You could find my tarp mates, Emma, Anna, and I laughing and finding the fun in getting soaking wet while digging out a quigloo, cooking dinner while it was snowing, figuring out that I am an East Coast skier and that powder is not my friend, or digging ourselves out of our quigloo when it would snow upwards of a foot at night. The whole group played soccer and gaga ball, made snow cones, and had an hour long photo shoot when the sun finally came out about five days in to the trip. Despite the tricky weather, my entire group persevered, had an absolute blast, and came out stronger and better people.

HMI Gap: Futaleufú by foot and by boat

Written by Deming Rohlfs and Katie Culman
March 11, 2019

HMI Gap, Futaleufu, rafting

Futaleufú! A world-renowned center of whitewater rafting, home to high mountains and grand valleys, and generally just a really cool place to spend three weeks. We came here for two reasons: a trek around Espolón Lake and a week-long rafting trip down the Futaleufú River.

After a few pleasant days acquainting ourselves with the delightful town of Futaleufú, we launched into the trek. Our first stop was a campesino farm accessible only by ferry or mountain trail. We were warmly welcomed by Ervín and got to explore his land and enjoy his small farmhouse, staying the night before catching the ferry to the far end of the lake, a very remote part of the region.HMI Gap, Futaleufu, adventure and conservation

We were lucky enough to spend the next night in the backyard of a rural elementary school and learn about life in the campo with a morning making cheese and gardening. We hiked over a mountain pass and climbed around a beautiful lake to arrive at our our next campsite. That night John made us all brownie scramble, a gourmet backcountry treat!

On our last day, we tackled eight miles, the entire time along a gorgeous lake, witnessing landscape so incredible we all agreed we didn’t want to stop. We got to walk straight from the trek into the hostel, a proud moment. We settled in for a well deserved sleep in the “uni-room,” with three bunk beds for our entire group to live together, and organized our gear in preparation for our journey down the river.

The first two days of the river trip were focused on orientation, learning important knots and rafting terms and the use of the equipment, while simultaneously picking potatoes, herding cattle, milking cows and goats, and enjoying an incredible meal at Don Benny’s farm made entirely of local produce.

On Day 3 our downstream journey commenced! We put our practice into action, going over proper paddling form and making our way through a few Class 3 rapids. Patagonia’s notoriously rainy conditions were not lacking, but in the rafts, a little more water from above only made the trip more exciting.

HMI Gap Bochinche Expediciones Futaleufu Patagonia whitewater rafting

We camped the next two nights at what some members of the group went so far as to call the most amazing place they had ever been! Some highlights were a giant natural cave to take shelter from the rain, a wood-fired hot tub overlooking the rapid, and the soothing white noise from the river as we slept in two-person, three-walled cabins. Using the site as basecamp, we took a day off of rafting to hike up a neighboring ridge. At the top we were welcomed by a rainbow stretching across the sky, a wonderful reward after the 700-meter climb.

We continued downriver to a campsite overlooking Terminator, considered the biggest commercially-guided rapid in the world. We could not have been in better hands, with five guide boats there in case anything happened. Our last two days brought blue skies and perfect days with more thrilling challenges on the river. Neither raft passed the final rapid perfectly, with one flipping and the other finishing with only half of its original paddlers. IT WAS AWESOME! The guide boats boats immediately picked up the paddlers, though some folks opted to keep swimming. We ended the expedition by sharing a traditional Patagonian asado with the guides as we expressed our gratitude to them. Our drive up the river took us past the same ridge we had hiked along days before, a cool way to reflect on our adventure as we begin to prepare to return to Chile Chico.

HMI Gap Bochinche Expediciones Futaleufu rafting