This week, even though most time was spent on campus and in classes, we were introduced to a few more new outdoor skills. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday we divided into groups, half of us going rock climbing while the other half visited a few nearby lakes to fly fish.
There was quite the spread of experience levels coming into the climbing activity. Some of us were excited to test our hand at a new skill, while others with prior experience were psyched to get back on natural rock after spending the winter bouldering in the gym. Day one was primarily an overview of how to belay and general rock climbing safety. This not only allowed us to learn and practice a new skill, but helped us to bond, learning to trust and depend upon our climbing partners. During day two, we really got into climbing, visiting a crag with routes of all difficulty levels, including the fan-favorite, “Tabasco.” This particular route was great because it had a very technical start and a challenging crack that one needed to climb in order to “top-out.” Unfortunately, rain forced us into the HMI gym on day three. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise though, as we all got to boulder, build routes, and coach one another. It is this community aspect of climbing that draws many people to the sport, and on Friday we experienced this aspect full-force, cheering on friends and giving them challenges to work on.
Fly fishing was something new to all except a few of us. This was not a problem though, as we spent Monday afternoon learning to put together and take apart our rods, tie the necessary knots, and cast in the proper “10 to 1” fashion at the local turf field. Wednesday was the day that we really saw leaps and bounds of improvement. We made our way out to Conley Lake, where we spent the afternoon practicing our casts and being teased by the fish that would nibble our flies, but never really bite. The experience certainly showed us the concentration and patience necessary for a good day of fishing. We had big plans for Friday! We started on our hike out to Timberline Lake, for what was supposed to be a great afternoon of alpine lake fishing, but were forced to turn around by lightning. This was a bit disappointing, but spirits quickly turned around with a stop at City on a Hill for a mid-afternoon coffee before heading back to campus.
After Tuesday’s town-time, we organized a surprise birthday party for Dylan, one of the summer staff. Complete with great food, music, and decorations from balloon garlands to confetti upon his entrance, there were no doubts about a good time to be had by all.
On Saturday we had a fantastic white-water rafting experience and we even managed to all stay in the rafts! We left HMI around 8:00 in the morning and headed towards the Brown’s Canyon section of the Arkansas River to begin our adventure. Once there, we split into groups of six or seven, each with students and staff, and jumped into boats with a guide per raft. After about a four mile mellow stretch, where we practiced the maneuvers and commands of forward and backward strokes, and left and right turns, we began to ride the rapids in a bit more exhilarating section of the river. The morning was very hot and sunny, so the splashes that came off the river (and from our friends’ paddles)were welcome refreshments. After rafting for about two hours, we pulled off the river and enjoyed a delicious picnic lunch. Some of us even decided to take a dip in the river during our break. After lunch, we headed back out onto the water and continued our journey through the canyon. After passing through a few more rapids, including the formidably named “Widowmaker,” “Seven Steps,” and “Toilet Bowl,” the temperature began to drop and we experienced a brief bit of rain. No problem though, we were already wet from the river. Overall, rafting was a great experience! We got to work on our teamwork and really found out how well our community is coming together.
After a delicious dinner of High Mountain Pies pizza, it was time to take the stage in the student-run talent show, hosted by Lanise Starnes and Jack “Cecil” Meister. We saw entertaining performances from students and faculty alike, including some country swing dancing from Corey and Sara, a viola performance from Jackie, a complete piano show with backwards, improv, fast, and slow playing from David, and collaborative efforts from each cabin in renditions of songs from Edward Sharpe, the Backstreet Boys, and Fort Minor. We certainly learned how much talent abounds in Summer Term 2013!
Sunday, after catching up on some sleep and having a nice brunch, many of the Summer Term students headed out to the Vail Farmers’ Market, one of the largest farmers’ markets in Colorado. We were blessed with great weather for the afternoon, both sunny and warm. It was great to visit another part of the state, and we had lots of fun walking around eating delicious food from the local vendors and shopping for some souvenirs (and riding a mechanical bull!). After returning from the farmers’ market and enjoying a delicious dinner of pulled-pork sandwiches, barbeque tofu, and brownies for dessert, it was time to get back to work, diving into study hall to work on our academic projects. However, this was not before taking a little break to observe the spectacularly vivid double rainbow arching over campus.