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

Semester 42: Ski Week!

Written by: Mina, Grace D., & Virginia
March 1, 2019

Last Friday we started Ski Week! Every other day (Friday, Sunday, and Tuesday, Thursday) we’ve all gone to Ski Cooper Mountain to learn how to Telemark Ski. Students were split into groups based on their past experience with skiing and the faculty were also put in groups to teach the students. During school days we have half days where we ski in the morning and come back in the afternoon for lessons. The schedules are modified so that we are still able to get in most of our classes on half days. On Sunday we skied the whole day, with a mix of lessons in the mornings and a free ski in the afternoon. This was super fun and people were able to both alpine ski and tele ski. We are slowly learning how to make our tele turns and how difficult Telemark Skiing truly is. Everyone has improved greatly from the first day and we will continue to ski at Ski Cooper every other day until the end of the week. Friday, we will learn our second expedition groups and those groups will ski together that day.

On Saturday we all had the opportunity to go into town after classes. This was a fun time to go thrift shopping, grab a hot drink from City on a Hill, or just walk around the snowy streets of Leadville with friends. That night, we rearranged Who’s Hall into a movie theater. We all grabbed comfortable chairs and snacks to enjoy as we watched the movie Free Solo. In this movie, Alex Honnold completes the first free solo climb of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. We sat on the edges of our seats throughout the entire movie. On Sunday, we traveled to Ski Cooper where we skied in our groups of students and teachers. For many of us, this was our first time telemark skiing. The fresh powder made the skiing even more enjoyable! We also were able to free ski for an hour after lunch. This was a fun time to test our new skills with friends. After a fun day full of skiing, we all took showers and worked on our homework in order to prepare for the busy week ahead of us.

Academics have been in full swing the past week with hands-on projects and engaging discussions. In our Natural Science class, we are studying the formation of snowflakes. For lab, adventured into the elbow deep snow and sampled each layer of snow in order to observe the differences in their densities. Our American History classes have been full of discussions, were we have debated the pros and cons of the continental railroads, and their effects on American society in the late 1800s. In Math, we are improving our complex thinking skills, and learning new processes of solving problems. Our English classes are focusing on the close reading of Ceremony, by Leslie Marmon Silko. We have been analyzing the many themes woven into the text, while also learning about the history of Native Americans who fought in World War II (like the protagonist of the book Tayo). Spanish classes have been filled with the singing of “El Amor Que Perdimos,” by Prince Royce. On top of all of this, we are revising our short essays about First Expedition, while learning new vocabulary regarding backcountry life. In P&P this week, we read articles about the sustainability of meat eating, and had a debate regarding the ethics of meat production.

HMI Gap: Exploring the community of Chile Chico

Lauren Lynch and Elise Fuente
February 25, 2019

Spring Semester in Patagonia

On our last morning in Patagonia National Park, we savored the views of the mountains, dipped our feet in the river, and said goodbye to our neighboring cows before packing up camp and hiking out. We loaded our belongings into the bus and drove back to our base hostel in Chile Chico.

When we arrived at the hostel, we were happy to reunite with Chris and eat a big lunch of fresh fruits and vegetables. After spending the afternoon organizing and cleaning all of our expedition gear, we reached the moment we had all been waiting for – showers! We were all very happy to get cleaned up and spend some time to relax and contact home. That evening we had a pizza dinner and ended the day listening to music together outside.

HMI Gap vegetable farming in Chile ChicoThe next two days in Chile Chico we spent exploring local farms. The first day we weeded a vegetable garden and harvested cucumbers, tomatoes, and lettuce. After a morning of work, we toured the farm and were able to taste and purchase fresh, handmade cheese. Gloria, the farm owner, told us about life on the farm and some of the issues farmers face. It was a thought-provoking discussion, and we were very grateful that she let us into her home to explore the local way of life.

After returning from the farm, we held our “Super Bowl” re-enactment: We made a dinner of chili and nachos while we watched a recap of the game. It was nice to get a little taste of home and spend the night laughing and enjoying each other’s company.

After a delightful breakfast in the hostel prepared by a few members of the group, we drove to a cherry farm just outside town. We worked hard shoveling compost for our host, also named Gloria, to use on her farm. After shoveling we had a nice lunch break of sandwiches as well as preserved cherries from Gloria. They were so delicious we even drank the cherry juice from the jar! After lunch we went to the orchard to pick dried cherries. We all walked out of the orchard with cherry-purple mouths!

HMI Gap cherry picking in Chile Chico

Gloria gave us her perspective on life on a Chile Chico farm and some of the difficulties she faces, especially regarding water rights for irrigation. After another engaging discussion, we said our goodbyes and stopped at the beach on the way back to the hostel. We sat on the sand and talked to Kathy, the owner of our hostel who accompanied us to the farms, about her perspective on the growing tourism industry in Chile as well as the future of Patagonia National Park. We’ve been very grateful for the opportunities we had to expand our knowledge of the local issues and culture and practice Spanish along the way!

On our third day in town, we left with Luis, our bus driver, and Kathy to a overlook of an abandoned mine. Next to the mine is a stunning turquoise lake, although its color comes from the chemicals added by the mine into the water. It’s so contaminated that you would burn your skin if you immersed any part of yourself. The mine has been abandoned for two years now, ever since two men died in a mining accident there. Luis and Kathy took the time to explain to us the complicated dynamic between the mine, the town, and the environment. After that, Luis brought us to a cueva de las manos, an archaeological site with handprints from a traditional Tehuelche ritual. HMI Gap viewing Tehuelche hand prints, Chile ChicoWhile the site has not been dated yet, if it was used during the same period as the sites around it, it could be anywhere from 3,000 to 4,000 years old. There are several other more famous sites near Chile Chico, but this one is currently not open to the public, so it was quite a treat to visit. We spent the rest of the afternoon prepping for our travel days to Futaleufu, stocking up on snacks and meals.

We left Chile Chico early in the morning on the ferry across Lago General Carrera, which we topped off with a bumpy seven-hour bus ride to the town of Puyuhuapi. At our hostel in Puyuhuapi, we ate a late dinner and slept well. The next morning we experienced quite a treat: The hostel provided a wonderful breakfast, including cookies and pastries, which was a nice taste of luxury.

After breakfast, we piled into the bus again and finished the last four hours to Futaleufu. We’re currently staying at Hostal Las Natalias, which is the largest hostel we’ve stayed in thus far, and we’ve already started getting to know all of the other visitors in this amazing place. Since arriving, we’ve been acquainting ourselves with the tiny town and preparing ourselves for our next trek out on Sunday.

We are very excited for our upcoming 5-day trek around Futaleufu and can’t wait to share all of our adventures!

Semester 42: First Weeks on Campus!

Written by: Kenya, Charlotte, Fran, Sophie
February 22, 2019

This week Luis Guillermo Benites visited HMI to give a talk to the students about the extreme mountaineering adventures he has been on in his life. He explained the immense amount of work that it took to accomplish a goal of summiting the famed Seven Peaks, the highest mountains of each of the seven continents. Alongside this accomplishment he also formed a career out of his childhood dream of becoming a professional mountaineering guide. In order to achieve this goal, he had to conquer his extreme allergies and asthma, that for the beginning years of his life, limited his exposure to the outdoors. He inspired the students of HMI to be very conscious of the goals that we create for ourselves and refrain from abandoning them, to keep pushing ourselves and moving toward our ambitions.

After returning from expedition two weeks ago, our academic routine has begun to feel normal as we delve into many different interesting subjects and assignments in each of our classes. We are learning about different forms of education and the writing American History in our History class, focusing on the flaws and biases in each of the systems. Our math classes are unique from the courses at our sending schools, but many of us are practicing working together in small groups to solve complex problems relating to our math curriculum at home. In English we are reading Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko, who touches on the Laguna Pueblo culture and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in veterans. We also just finished our analytical essay on the literary devices in a passage from Red by Terry Tempest Williams in our English class. Practice and Principals is focusing on discussing and hearing different viewpoints regarding what humans relationship with nature should be and how we achieve this. Those who take Spanish learned the song “Vivir Mi Vida” by Marc Anthony, covered different grammar tenses, and wrote a short essay about a memorable moment from expedition. In our Natural Science course that focuses on ecology, we learned about why we have winter and different weather patterns. One very interesting thing that we learned and practiced this week took place in science class when we learned the different causes for why it snowed the previous night in Leadville and then we practiced explaining it by acting as meteorologist and presenting to the class.

This weekend was very fun because HMI got to participate in the Leadville Loppet on Saturday! Students and faculty either participated in the Loppet by cross country skiing a 10k (or 22k for some faculty) or helped to run aid stations. The race started off with blizzard-like conditions for the first mile, and many of us found ourselves questioning whether or not we would be able to finish the race. Luckily, it got much better after the first mile; seeing our classmates cheering us on and giving us snacks and Gatorade at the halfway mark definitely boosted our morale. Besides our large numbers of people, we also made sure HMI was strongly represented with our enthusiastic cheers and silly costumes. We all had an amazing time in the race, whether it was our first time skiing, or one hundredth. Once we all crossed the finish line, we went to the CMC gym for awards and lunch. There was lots of laughing and sharing of our race experiences as we ate soups and listened to the award ceremony. We were well represented during the awards ceremony — the top 3 girls in our age range were all from HMI, as well as 2 out of the top 3 for the boys. On Sunday, we had classes in order to make up for the school that we did not have on Saturday. Despite the fact that it made our usual 6 day school week one day longer, people did not complain because we were all so grateful that we got to race on Saturday. The Leadville Loppet was an incredible and bonding experience, one we definitely will not forget!

This week on campus was alive with discussion about our community and how we’ve integrated over the course of the first month of our semester together. On Monday, during flex block, we all met in Stuen Hall to voice our “pluses and deltas,” or positives and areas for improvement, regarding our language, inclusivity, and overall group dynamic. The conversation was student-led, which facilitated a powerful and productive conversation about communicating more often and more effectively with one another. We established group norms like respecting peoples’ identities and backgrounds in an effort to create a more accepting community, as well as being receptive to feedback from peers.

Individual cabins have also been having conversations about group dynamic on a smaller scale. We are dividing up tasks like chopping wood, shoveling the pathways, and keeping the fire going on a nightly basis. In Cabin One, there are three birthdays this week and we’ve been planning festivities and lots of chocolate! The community is also buzzing with excitement about Ski Week, when we all learn how to telemark ski for our second exped, which is rapidly approaching. In the meantime, we have been spending time on the rock wall, doing yoga in Stuen, and catching up on reading for English.