Semester 31: Second Expedition

We made it!  While we’re glad to be back in the warm buildings of HMI, our expedition groups had a lot of great adventures.  Each of the groups spent a number of days base-camping while doing trail work with the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (CFI).  Afterward, we spent some time backpacking through the mountains.

While it seemed a bit strange to be on expedition again, we were excited to get out and experience what this one had in store for us.  Group B arrived at the La Plata trailhead and had a new face greet us upon our arrival.  Tim, a CFIrepresentative, led us up to our base-camping site—the spot where we would spend the next four days.  From there, we continued onto our trail work site.  Our primary project was to build a set of steps in a steep section of trail—in order to do so, we had to gather lots of giant rocks to fill even bigger holes that we had dug.  It was tiring work, but as the sun came out midday, we started to get in a rhythm.  By the end of the first day, we felt satisfied with the work we’d completed—we were already more than halfway done with the first project we set out to do!

We kept busy with trail work and with classwork as well, and even had a few surprises!  On Group
 C’s expedition, we had the chance to write a bunch of different kinds of poems.  During one lesson, while we were sitting quietly by a lakeside writing Haikus, we heard, out of the blue, an incredibly enthusiastic, “Hello!”  It was unmistakably Danny’s voice.  The Head of School visited us in the field!  We knew that our next few days would be filled with laughs, news from the frontcountry, and past HMI insights.  On our seven-mile day, Danny lifted our spirits with riddles, jokes, cheers, and lots of individual check-ins—not to mention Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  Danny’s drop-in closed with a cooking competition and an awesome end-of-the-night circle during which we got to know Danny and his quirks and continued to bond as a group.  His presence was a delightful mid-expedition surprise!

Most of us got to try for big summits during our trips. Group A summited Mt. Elbert—the highest mountain in Colorado and the tallest of the fourteeners, standing at 14, 439 feet.  We faced challenging conditions during the climb since we’d had a snowstorm the night before, but we were optimistic about reaching the top.  As we made our way up, we

came across the section of trail that we had helped restore in the previous days—it was exciting to know that we had helped improve a significant part of the trail!  As we got above tree line, we got stuck in pretty high winds—that only made us more enthusiastic to reach the summit.  At the top, we took pictures, enjoyed the astounding views, shared various laughs, and, best of all, ate our summit Snickers bars!  Although it was a hard climb involving some challenging weather, it was definitely an unforgettable adventure.

Group D definitely won’t forget their two group kitchen experiences.  While we have time during class, group activities, and circle to bond as a group, we are often split up into smaller groups during hiking days and in camp to be out of sight and sound of other tarp groups.  We’re always looking for other ways to bond with one another, and a group kitchen helped us to do that.  Not only did we mix up tarp groups to cook together, we also put on skits as mixed cook groups.  Our theme for skits was about how the government shut-down might be affecting HMI, and the skits turned out quite

well.  We also had a group kitchen the last night of the trip, and it was noticeable how much closer we all were.  Even though it was one of the coldest nights of the expedition, it was definitely one of our favorites!

This past weekend we watched the Lake County High School Panther’s play their homecoming football game on Friday and danced the night away at an HMI homecoming dance on Saturday!  Then it’s back to classes on Monday as we look forward to Parents’ Weekend coming up shortly.  We’ll keep you posted on the goings-on.

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