This post came from Rachel’s blog.
For the last three weeks I’ve been living above Pitkin mesa in Paonia, Colorado. So much has happened, there’s no way I can fit it all in a single post. (Not one short enough for anyone to read all the way through at least.) Our first adventure was picking approximately ten thousand peaches. And taking probably around two thousand home* with us. Soon after the peaches, and the canning of peaches, we took our first big adventure. Which was to climb a mountain. East Beckwith if you want to look it up on a map. We set up camp, (a tarp with our sleeping bags smushed together on top,) had some dinner, and our nightly Lindy hop lesson this time in the woods and lit up by headlamps. The next day we packed up, and started hiking the mountain. I personally had to turn back about a mile in due to being a bit sick, a bit out of shape, and still adjusting to the altitude around here. But I had a nice time reading, photographing wildlife, and meditating by myself at Lost Lake. After a good six hours or so the rest of my clan returned exhausted but happy. I’m told some made it all the way to the top, and some went just short of it. We returned home to hot chocolate and a wonderful dinner.
It’s hard to remember the order everything has happened, but some other adventures we’ve had since September 6th include butchering chickens, swimming in the ditch, (a little scary,) swimming at a park, (much nicer), helping to cob an earthship house, (which basically means mixing and flinging mud at a base made of recycled tires full of dirt,) learning to make small animal traps out of sticks and rocks, deconstructing and fixing up fences, picking and processing pears, (being sure not to accept more than two boxes of fruit this time,) picking onions and digging up potatoes, weeding and thinning beets, wrangling escaped horses, (by which I mean a couple people chased the horses to an confined area, a few people went to tell the caretakers that they had escaped, and the rest of us stood around with nothing to do but enjoy the parting clouds,) patronizing the local ice cream shop, (it closed for the season this weekend, so we had to take advantage while we could,) went on a short and unsuccessful bear hunt, attended communication workshops put on by our own leader Dev, crashing a dance party in the movie theater, wandering the streets of Paonia, learning to make cheese, picking tomatoes, balancing together on a low ropes course, and many more things that aren’t coming to mind just now.
But I think my favorite adventure so far would be our second camping trip. It was much closer to home, and we walked straight there. It didn’t take more than an hour. But a challenge was proposed that made this a unique trip – no one could bring more than 5 things. (Excluding underwear, bras, socks, and shoes.) It was such an interesting challenge. Sleeping bags were shared, shirts were forgone, but thankfully most people chose to bring pants. In the end bringing such few things wasn’t as much the challenge as it was for us all to work together and figure it out and get organized. Tension built and nerves were struck, but an hour later, after taking some space, things relaxed, everyone apologized and all was well. We hiked in and up tarps under what little amount of tree cover there is in the high desert, trying to stay out of the rain. We were treated to stories of adventure as we cuddled in the dark. Woken up early by the rain, we made our way back home.
It’s been three weeks and it’s another three weeks more until we leave for Crested Butte for the next segment of this gap year of ours. It feels like this group has been together for so long already, but I’m so happy to know we’ve still got a lot longer with each other.
So far it appears this gap year may just be the best decision I’ve ever made. Here’s to finding out what lies ahead.
*There are a few places I call home, but this place has quickly become an important one of them.