Mountain Classroom: Expeditions and Down Time

Posted by Mountain Classroom


Proctor’s Mountain Classroom program enters the second half of their term-long adventure in the American Southwest. As the group continues to learn how to live in community with one another, they also take increased responsibility for the planning of their expeditions. Read more in today’s post from Emma ‘23 and Dante ‘24. 


Emma ‘23 | Expedition Execution

Introduction: Mountain Classroom is exactly as it sounds: a classroom in the mountains. Hence why we hike various mountains, canoe through canyons, and scale various rock formations. Our academics consist of what we can see within a 100ft view. Therefore, these past two weeks included a switch from the Basin and Range region into the Colorado plateau. The switch was noticeable especially during our backpacking trip. We began our trek in the desert and ended up on top of a mesa. We then concluded these two weeks in Comb Ridge, Utah.



Our backpacking expedition began on the first of February. Bags were filled to the top with group gear. Each individual required trekking poles (trekking poles can be substituted for sticks, however, it is not recommended for best results) and two full water bottles. Not bringing two full water bottles might cause ridicule from the group due to a waiting period that happens when more water needs to be filtered. Before the trek begins water filtration, poop kit, lunch, electrolytes, and snacks must be easily accessible. The trek can then begin.



The trek began with a forgotten dram. This resulted in a restart of the trek (to ensure good results). After the late start the group hiked to a camp only 2 miles away from the trailhead. A concern arose about water scarcity upon reaching the site. However, the problem was quickly resolved by finding a water tank a few feet away. Mega-miss were then secured to perfection and no more issues came up. The next day was an early wake up leading to frosted tents. Tents were stowed away because they were, “A later me problem”. We hiked 8 miles which is demonstrated in figure 2. Day 3 was a rest day which allowed for birthday celebrations (Birthday celebrations uplifted the group and allowed for positive results the following day). Day 4 consisted of an abundance of map and topography work. This is due to a non-existent trail that we needed to follow. This factor caused the group to stop after about 3 1/2 miles and set up camp. A group of 4 continued on to scout for a trail ahead. The trail was located and the group returned to camp. The next day the group woke up early to climb up to the top of a mesa. We were looking at about 1700ft elevation gain. The trek took place on a steep edge and there was 4 feet of snow at the top. Once on the top of the mesa, the Colorado Plateau became visible. The views were gorgeous. However, we had a total of nine miles to trek over the course of the day and we had only finished 1 1/2 miles. We continued to hike to the top of the mesa and proceeded to gain elevation. Finally in the last hours of daylight we ascended down from the mesa. A stream of muddy water flooded the trail. The group followed the trail and concluded the day at Deb (the bus).



Overall it was a successful backpacking expedition. If we hadn’t forgotten the dram the first camp might have been closer giving less mileage the second day. Another area of improvement could be minimizing food waste and bringing chocolate and more butter. Otherwise the trip was composed of mostly happy campers.


Dante ‘24 | Down Time

There are a lot of things we do on Mountain Classroom. We hike, climb, canoe, and adventure, but the one thing that is not usually seen is down time. Down time allows us to be alone or to hang out with friends. This helps us relax after working all day. Most of our down time is spent on the bus. Whenever we are driving somewhere or just looking for a place to hang out, we’re on the bus together.


Our bus rides can be up to six hours long, giving us plenty of free time. In the bus, we generally sit and talk with our friends. Along with sleeping, it helps long bus rides to go by much faster. The bus is the most comfortable place to be as there is seating and snacks at the back. Sometimes we hang out on the bus late into the night, sometimes past 11:00pm. We get to know each other well, learning about all aspects of each other's lives.


Other times that we have free time is when we’re waiting to climb, free time at camp, and exploring. Down time is important as it gives us a break from the day to get to know each other. 


This helps give us the time to complete assignments. Over Adjunct Weekend we were given a few days of down time to help us catch up on work and rest. We also were given the chance to call home, during this time. This helped us relieve our stress for our upcoming hiking expedition. Another time we had free time was during our climbing expedition. A few people would climb, while the rest waited their turn. This would allow the majority of us to talk and get work done. Overall, down time helps give us the time to bond at the end of the day.


Click here to check out more photos from Winter 2023 Mountain Classroom!


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