Semester 47: 3rd Expedition

Written by: Ann, Jewell, Sophia, & Liam

Group A: Third expedition at HMI is special. Our group went to Jacob’s Chair, Utah, and the scenery was absolutely stunning. We drove the lengthy drive to Utah, camped next to the bus, and set out along mesas and through canyons. Each group embarked on their own independent student travel (IST) adventure towards the end of the trip. There were many highlights, but the most memorable day was definitely when we hiked through Gravel Canyon. We hiked with the instructor team due to the technical terrain that was anticipated. And wow, are we glad we were with the I-Team that day! The canyon was filled with massive boulders that we had to climb over, squeeze through, and slide down—all with our insanely heavy packs. It was so (Type 2) fun! Later that day, the canyon narrowed and we faced a large puddle. We screamed as we stepped into the pool of water, only expecting to get our feet wet. But we soon discovered that the puddle was much deeper than that —the water was over our heads as we swam through the canyon, waterlogged by our heavy packs. The entire hiking day took over eight hours, filled with laughter, smiles, screams, and memories to last a lifetime.

Group B: On the morning of prep day for our third expedition, excitement, and whispers of conspired expedition groups filled Who’s Hall. After chores, the groups we would spend the next twelve days with were announced. Everyone was overjoyed. The third expedition began with a lot of crying as we said our goodbyes to our friends on campus. We wished each other the best and group Bumble B / Jewell’s group loaded up on the bus Terrapin. On the way to the canyons, we stopped at a gas station where Jewell’s Student Expedition Leader (SEL) cat hat was purchased and other Leader of the Day (LOD) flair was acquired. We enjoyed our little bit of consumerism before heading into the pristine wilderness. Our time in the canyons with a view of Jacob’s Chair was filled with laughter, breath-taking sunsets, many “obvios, booyahs, and probablies,” yummy food, dancing, good conversations, long walks to water, and Dune impressions! The Bumble Bs spent the first few days of the expedition working toward Independent Student Travel (IST). We took Wilderness First Aid Awareness classes taught by the lovely apprentices, Emma and Luke, to prepare us for IST. We officially achieved IST on November 16th (Jewell’s birthday)! Jewell and Erik both had birthdays on expedition so cards and hugs were given, Iron Chef was played, pudding and cake were eaten, and we sang happy birthday! Expedition three was unforgettable and probably the most fun ever. We love HMI! 

Group C: Third expedition came quickly after the buzz of a busy second academic block on campus. We were ready to return to the canyons, especially once we heard that our expedition group was going to be the first POC (Person of Color) group in HMI history. We hold POC dinners every Friday, and it offers a space to connect as people of color, but going on expedition allowed us to get to know one another outside of that structured space. We sang a lot and enjoyed cooking with one another—often spending over an hour cooking, talking, cleaning up, and making hot drinks. We enjoyed scrambling down into canyons for water, basking in the warm weather and bright sunshine, and having photoshoots every night before zipping into our sleeping bags. Our expedition was silly, fun, challenging at times, and meaningful. Independent student travel, slick rock campsites, and bouts of uncontrollable laughter gave us the time to get to know one another on our final expedition of the semester.

Group D: After days of preparation and months of excitement, we were setting out for our third and final expedition of our HMI experience. We were a large group, under the watchful eyes of Eileen, Hayden, and Jessi, and after hours of wilderness first aid training we were excited to show our I-Team what we could do. After a long eight hour bus ride, we were finally back in our secondary classroom—the canyons of Utah. Our first few nights were tame, getting back into the swing of hiking as a group as well as narrowing down our personal systems for the ever-approaching IST. Throughout our first days we also stared into the eyes of a looming, appropriately named “Mesa Day”. The day involved a technical ascent onto one of Utah’s stunning mesas, then a long, eight mile hike, down a dirt road, before finally another technical descent to our campsite. We set out bright and early at six AM, the pizza from our layover day still fresh in our stomachs. We hiked in silence for the first 30 minutes, as the spectacularly large mesa loomed ever closer. After about 35 minutes of hiking we arrived at the base of the mesa, and began our ascent. The energy was high as we watched the sun rise over the mountains in the distance, and we completed the ascent in under an hour. From there the true scale of our next portion hit us, as well as the fact that this was a so-called “ghost day”, meaning that the I-team would travel separately from us for the road portion of the hike. Nevertheless we steeled ourselves, tightened our hip straps, and set out. The walk was long and arduous, but filled with lots of fun conversations as well as shenanigans at an abandoned house located roughly two miles into our trip. After about four hours of walking we finally arrived at what we thought was our X, before being disappointedly corrected by the I-team that our X was, in fact, over that yonder hill. Needless to say, we were exhausted, and the final few hours were somewhat of a blur, only interrupted by a technical fifteen foot descent using a handline. Finally, at five in the afternoon we arrived at our campsite for the night. It goes without saying that we were promptly passed out in a pile at 7:15, when the I-Team arrived for our evening circle. The next day was a layover day to recover, and the rest of the trip was official Independent Student Travel (IST)! We felt reinvigorated after testing our limits on Mesa Day, and IST went off smoothly without a hitch. The majority of our time was spent searching for water, playing in the canyons, cooking as a group and of course cramming all our schoolwork into the last night. Eventually we regrouped with our I-Team to finish the trip, and loaded the bus coated in sand but grinning nonetheless. Overall, an incredible experience to say the least, and one that will stick with every member of our group forever.