Semester 46: 3rd Expedition

Written by: Anna, Luly, Ava, Jordan P, & Fernanda

Group A: On third expedition, Semester 46 returned to the canyons of Utah. Group A, led by Liz and Joanie, traveled through Slickhorn Canyon. On the third expedition at HMI, each group has a Student Expedition Leader (SEL), and Eve was our group’s SEL. Unfortunately, one of our group members sprained his ankle early on in the expedition, and, along with some other injuries and ailments, the group decided to turn around and spend the rest of the trip in Slickhorn Canyon instead of traveling the original route. Even with the route change, the group still had a ton of fun, playing games, hiking, seeing ruins, and eventually climbing out of the canyon. This expedition was Liz’s last expedition with HMI, so the students baked her a cake to show their appreciation. After that, on the last day, they were able to meet up with another expedition group and hang out together in the canyons that night. They watched the last sunrise in the canyons, and then left Utah to return to the HMI campus.

Group B: Group B, led by Avery, Nadia, Brenna, and their amazing SEL Tess explored Collins and Slickhorn canyons near Cedar Mesa. The trip started out with a big canyon wall and some tasty worm water. Luckily the rest of the water sources were worm free! Our next camp was under an amazing arch and full of petroglyphs. On one of our layover days, we found a desert pothole and all jumped in, soaking up the sun before having Circle amidst echoing frog calls. We laughed and talked through all of our long hiking days with the peak being 12hrs above the San Juan river on a boulder field. One of the more exciting moments happened the morning after when it started raining. The students decided to throw their tarps over them like a big blanket rather than setting them up in order to sleep a bit longer. Later in the day it started hailing while they laughed and hid under some juniper trees. The Instructor Team said the rainstorm smelled amazing although most of the students were still without a sense of smell, which came in handy when the cheese started smelling a bit funky later in the trip. On another Independent Student Travel (IST) day we all came as our alter egos and talked with some interesting characters. Cuddle puddles were a nightly ritual as was star gazing. Our nights together under the stars and moon were so special that we found it hard to say goodbye to the desert at the end of the 10 days. The bus ride home was full of dancing and singing fueled by ice cream.

Group C: Third Exped was so fun with Da Waaattteeeeerrrrr Babies (our group’s name), and the adversity made it even more hilarious. This group consisted of Jacob, Gus, Ray, and their SEL was Henry, aka Puggy. The group created many different nicknames for each other throughout the whole trip. We started off each day by breaking up into two groups with our Leaders of the Day (LODs). On one particularly memorable day, the plan was to hike for six miles to get out of the canyon and to the next camp. The plan was to stay to the right of the canyon before passing two large drainages, then take a left and get out of the canyon. We began to hike and didn’t realize we had gone too far until we hit the end of a canyon, so the group had to retrace our steps back to the previous campsite. We ate dinner at around 9 pm and all laughed after a day of so much struggle. 

Group D: For the third expedition, the members of group D led by Izzy, Blake, and Leslie navigated Saddle Horse Canyon in the San Rafael Swell. It was a rollercoaster from the start with a few navigational mishaps and long days followed by amazing stars and a pink supermoon to light up the nights. After starting with only six students, four new members joined the crew. With the whole group together we enjoyed a Backcountry Master Chef featuring secret ingredients of Mandarin Oranges and freshly singed prickly pear. The Crunchy Vegans took the win with oatmeal pancakes, and prickly pear orange syrup. The route featured a collection of petroglyphs which gave the group some trouble when trying to find them but it was worth the search. Upon reaching the river, the group enjoyed sport wading almost every afternoon in the cool albeit murky water of the San Rafael River at the end of a long day hiking through the cottonwoods. Speaking of cottonwoods as they hiked, Group D was able to watch the cottonwoods begin to leaf out, filling the landscape with vibrant green leaves and providing shade in the heat of the day. The expedition was capped off with a blazing comet during the final circle and some of the most delicious bus water.

Group E: Group E, led by Erik, Jessi, and Sam had a wonderful time backpacking through the Swell in Southeast Utah. The group walked along the San Rafael River for the first half of the trip which provided for some beautiful, muddy beach days where they played a dynamic game of charades and enjoyed the sunshine! Along their route, they admired vibrant blooming cacti, and loads of petroglyphs eons ago by Natives. Music rang through the canyons on this expedition. Not only did they bring a guitar, but five harmonicas too! Every night was filled with singing, some favorites were Angels From Montgomery and the Home Depot theme song. The last four days of the expedition were Independent Student Travel (IST) days. The Student Expedition Leader (SEL), Molly, did a wonderful job leading us through those final days! We slept in a big cuddle puddle each night which we called ‘dream circles’, played games including Werewolf and Silent Football, which always ended in Ruby crab walking around the circle singing a ridiculous song without showing her teeth, and on the last night planned a flash mob to TikTok by Kesha for back on campus!