HMI Gap: The Power of Unplugging

Wilderness Group (F-Trek)

By Sofie Pedemonti

When you think of disconnecting, what do you think of? Putting your phone on airplane mode? Leaving your phone in your room while you eat dinner with your family? Though these actions may provide temporary relief from our perpetually plugged-in society, true disconnection can only be achieved in certain circumstances. While exploring the Sawatch Mountain Range, HMI’s F-Trek was able to learn the ins-and-outs of a true backcountry lifestyle, dabble in rock climbing, and bond as a community, all while experiencing the profound effects of grade A disconnection.

HMI Gap Summit Mt. Massive Day one: we hike out to our first campsite, get a cheesy-mac cooking lesson, and settle into our mids (mega mid tents that have now become our homes for these next three months). At this point, we are practically strangers to each other out in the middle of nowhere. One thing we can all bond over is the excitement for what the next 14 days will offer. As days progressed, our bonds grew stronger and so did our bodies. Summiting Mt. Massive, the third tallest peak in the lower forty-eight (14,429 ft), was a true testament to our team’s rapid growth. While navigating off-trail, cautiously negotiating loose boulder fields, and facing harsh winds may have been difficult, reaching the summit proved that any adversity was simply temporary.

HMI Gap Backcountry CookingA few days and miles after our Mt. Massive peak ascent, we found ourselves in the old mining town of Douglass City. As we approached our new campsite, it was impossible to ignore the cascading boulders and walls of rock surrounding us. Once we found out that we would be climbing these rocks, some people’s temperament became very excited, while others turned quite frightful. At this moment, another opportunity for growth arose within our community. Our climbing day consisted of everyone helping each other, whether it was in the form of belaying for each other, giving pointers on certain routes, or cheering each other on.

HMI Gap Sawatch ExpeditionLooking back on our first two weeks as a group, it is quite evident that the lack of technology really helped contribute to our fast and strong bonds. It’s amazing how close you can get to other people in just the first 7 days on an expedition – bonds that may take years in other situations. Going forward, traveling to Utah and Patagonia, we will be presented with so many more opportunities for growth and challenges to work through as a team. While we will be re-introduced to technology at certain times throughout the program, the common theme of disconnection will remain prevalent throughout the course.