Saturday, July 24, 2010

Weeks 6-8


Shalom and good tidings to you all!

Week 5 and 6 was rock camp. A group of nine high school students from around Colorado and Texas to learn the ins and outs of rock climbing. I was not on that trip but I was still able to get some climbing in. Nick, Meghan, Fritz, Jeremy, Ellen and myself went to Hartman’s Rock on the weekend to go rock climbing. We left camp after dinner on Friday night and drove an hour to Gunnison. By the time we got there the sun was already starting to set so we found a place to camp for the night but decided that we all wanted to sleep outside so we didn’t bother with putting up a tent. We then found a spot to go bouldering and along the way found a group of people who were having a good time with their friend Budweiser; we made sure to give them their space. When we got back to our campsite we decided to go straight to bed because we were all exhausted from the week and wanted to get up early so we could climb more. Well, we were awoken much earlier than we had expected by a rain storm at 4:00am! I must remind you that we were just sleeping on top of a tarp with no protection over top. I stayed fairly dry but the rain was loud and we were all awake so we talked until the rain stopped, which was at about 5:00am. Meghan kept yelling “Waffle House!” because she was hungry and that’s what she was wanting. Fritz decided to get up at 4:30am and go for a bike ride. He came back a bit later and asked if anyone wanted him to ride into town to get McDonald’s. We were able to fall back asleep after all the commotion and slap-happy conversation. The night was hilarious despite the rain and we still talk about it.

The next day was sunny and hot which made it perfect for climbing. I was able to climb some harder routes and I must say I’m now addicted to climbing.

After rock camp was done we expeditions staff and the Anderson family packed up for a trip to Ouray. Ouray is a small town in the heart of the mountains. It is considered the ‘Ice Climbing Capital of the World’ and is only about 40 miles from Lake City, but is about a three hour drive because to get there you have to drive on mostly 4-wheel drive roads at approximately 10-20 MPH. Needless to say it was an interesting (and bumpy) drive there.

Protecting our heads from smashing into each other on the bumpy road to Ouray

While we were there we took some time to go window shopping on Main Street, sample the local ice cream shop, and went urban bouldering. We stumbled upon a pretty neat playground in the city and the boys decided to use the playground as if it were a rock climbing area. It was a pretty funny thing to watch and we entertained ourselves with that for a few good hours.

Ryan urban bouldering


Cyndi urban bouldering

Ryan and Nick enjoying their time in the park

Also, while we were in Ouray we attempted to climb Mt. Sneffels but were unsuccessful because a large thunderstorm chased us off before we could summit. But we were all okay with that because that meant we got to spend more time in the hot springs in town. Sitting in a huge hot tub for several hours was just what we all needed. I think when we got out of there that night it was the cleanest any of us had been since we’ve been here. Yes, we do shower but this pool was able to rid us of our ‘perma-dirt’.

The next day before we left Ouray we went climbing at a local crag there which was a lot of fun. I was able to climb up a 90 ft run and from the top I could see most of the city. We then had to go back to camp but before we did we stopped for a greasy burger, sweet tea and ice cream; best meal ever!

My view from 90 feet up

Posing outside a bed & breakfast in Ouray

Week 7 I was again on logistics, but we did take a hike up Grassy Peak to break up the week. Grassy is a 12,800ft tall mountain right next to camp. There is really no trail up it so we used the hike to practice our map and compass skills. The hike up is ridiculously steep and really long but the view from the top was really cool. I could see all of camp, Red Mountain, Lake San Cristobal, Uncompahgre Peak, and most of the other mountains in the area. There was also some cell phone reception at the top so we all made some phone calls to tell people back home we were on top of a mountain. Actually most of the mountains around here have some cell phone reception at the summit but I’m usually with campers and unable to use any electronic device around them. The hike back down was tough on the knees but we made it fun by trying to only walk on fallen trees and rocks while descending.

Arial view of Camp Redcloud

This past week (week 8) I was with Fritz guiding Faith Lutheran Youth (FLY for short) from Castle Rock, CO. It was a typical base camp week. Monday high and low ropes, Tuesday rock climbing, Wednesday peak assent, Thursday rafting and Friday we did some more climbing. The bummer about this past week was how much it rained. Monday was nice but everyday after that we got a larger thunderstorm in. On Tuesday we had to stop climbing early because of lightning and on Wednesday we were unable to summit because of ominous looking rain clouds for miles that were being blown in. Thursday it was cloudy and a little cold but my group dressed warm and wore wet suits so none of them got terribly cold and all of them seemed to enjoy it.

Week 8 group on the hike up Uncompahgre

The group was one of the more hard-core groups we’ve had in. They were from Colorado and many of them had been rock climbing and hiking before. Several of the guys and one of the guy leaders were really involved with boy scouts. They had a fire starting battle to see who could start a fire quicker with mostly wet wood. The group that won used some notebook paper so I don’t know if I’d consider them the winner but the fire felt good after being stuck in the rain for a large majority of the day. The group was fun to work with and they liked to talk and discuss everything from skiing/snowboarding, to PC vs. Mac, to theological issues. I got to know all three of the girls but I also enjoyed getting to know the guys on the trip as well. The guys were big into music, beat-boxing, and overall enjoyed being outside, so, I got along with them pretty well. The girls were outgoing, were willing to talk about a lot of stuff and one of them was interested in creation vs. evolution stuff, so, her and I spent a lot of time talking about that which I loved!

Overall, the group was hard to say goodbye to. But, they all really had a great week and each of them said that God truly met with them. They were excited about all of the activities and what they were learning throughout the week.

Last night I was on a tired high. After we were done cleaning and debriefing my energy level suddenly shot up. I got Kristin, the ATC, to play catch with my foxtail and then we decided to hook ourselves up to the giant swing. We didn’t drop from the platform but figured out a way to hook the both of us up at the bottom and ‘pushed’ ourselves by running and then pulling our feet up. Every time we lifted our feet I either ended up sitting on Kristin’s lap or she ended up kneeing me in the thigh. It was an adventure and a good way to unwind after a busy and tiring week.

Kristin and I on the swing

This next week I’m helping lead a large backpacking trip with a group from Houston, TX. They actually arrive tonight and we are going to eat with them in town in a few hours. We will hit the trail tomorrow morning and get back late Thursday night. It should be a good trip. I’m excited to go but also hoping that the thunderstorms hold off a bit.

Prayer Requests:

  • Nice weather for the trip
  • Continued energy
  • Ample sleep
  • Mosquitoes leaving us alone
  • Jake has contracted Giardia – quick recovery for him
  • Enjoyment of the last few weeks
  • Safety
  • God continuing to reveal Himself to campers, leaders, and guides

Praises:

  • Lots of fun with fellow staff
  • Blooming flowers
  • The most amazing rainbows I’ve ever seen!
  • Being able to enjoy the activities and views around here
  • Brianna is now able to do all of the activities once again

I can’t believe that I’ll be home in about three weeks! This summer has just flown by. Thank you for all of your prayers, letters and support!

God bless!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Weeks 2-5

Greetings to you all!

It yet again has been a long time since I have posted anything, but know that I have been very busy with many wonderful things!

Week 2 of camp here at Redcloud was pretty easy going for those of us in expeditions. We only had a group of four boys come for the week so two of our male staff were with them and the rest of us had a few work projects and other random things to do. Our big work project of the week was to build a fence along one of the roads here at camp. We had to first demolish the old fence and then gather new wood from the aspen groves around camp. This was an interesting project because we needed twelve foot long logs that were not already rotted. The only logs of that sort we could find were of aspen trees that were dead but still standing. You may be asking yourself how do you gather trees of this type. Well, it involves a little bit of pushing and a little bit of carrying. You see, when aspens die they stay standing until a strong wind, an elk or a human forces them to meet the ground. Just a few strong pushes, a sturdy helmet to protect you from falling dead branches, and a yell of “Timber!” gives you a tree fit for a fence.

Here's a video of me harvesting an aspen

video

The Crew in front of the Finished Fence

When we weren’t building a fence we were watching the HBO series Band of Brothers. It all started on Sunday before the campers came. We wanted a short filler between a meeting and welcoming campers so we decided to pop in the first episode of Band of Brothers. We were able to watch about thirty minutes of the first episode and that was enough to get us hooked. Six days and ten episodes later we finished the series but still wanted more, so we’ve discussed watching the interviews and other extra stuff on the DVD’s. That will probably be next week’s treat.

The adventure staff had a huge group from a church called Bethel in Houston, TX. The group has been coming since Redcloud started in 1981 and uses the camp grounds but kind of does their own programming. They bring in their own speakers and do service projects around camp but they also take time to enjoy rock climbing, the high ropes course, and whitewater rafting. Since there were so many people here that week and since most of the expeditions staff were not assigned to the group for the week we helped out in the kitchen and I got to assist with the rock climbing. They also hire a square dance caller and rent out the town hall in Lake City to have a square dance. Several of us decided to go and I kind of wish that square dancing happened weekly in Lake City. All in all, it was a very fun week.

At the Hoe-Down in our flannel

The next week (week 3) we had a small group from Laverne, OK come for a traditional base camp. I was actually one of the official guides for the trip this week and I was both nervous and excited for that. The group (all five of them) was a lot of fun and really made me see the way that sarcasm can get out of hand. It was really neat to see the group of them grow individually and grow together as a group.

During the week Nick found a chipmunk and decided to keep it. I’m guessing it was ill and on it’s last legs because it didn’t move around much. He kept it in his shirt pocket or on his shoulder like a parrot.

Nick with Chuck the chipmunk in his shirt pocket (you can see the tail sticking out of the pocket)

We were able to repel off a cliff type thing called God’s Nose. It was one of the most fun things I’ve done since I’ve been here! Basically stepping off the side of a cliff and trusting a rope to get me down 118 feet safely, super adrenaline rush plus an astounding view!

God's Nose Repel Site

I happened to turn the big 2-0 on the Wednesday of that week. The day started at 4:30am. We had camped out near the trailhead of Uncompahgre so I woke up to a frost covered sleeping bag and still an abundance of stars up above me. We ate some quick breakfast and headed up the mountain. I wasn’t thinking we would be able to make it to the top because we got going a little later than we wanted to, the group’s physicality wasn’t outstanding, and it was rather windy that day. However, we made it to the top and it was an amazing birthday present! Uncompahgre is the sixth tallest peak in Colorado at 14,309 feet. The top is relatively large and flat so we were able to run around and have some fun at the summit. And by we I mean the other guides and myself, the group from Oklahoma decided to take some much needed R&R while enjoying the view. We saw several Marmots while we were up there and one even decided to sit right in the middle of the trail and wouldn’t move when we needed to go back down, so we had to poke it with a trekking pole to make it get out of the way. Also at the summit were quite a few small purple and yellow flowers that were being pollinated by none other than the classic bumblebee. I was surprised to see that at 14,000 feet. Mark, one of the full time staff here at Redcloud who was with us, told me that the first climbers of Uncompahgre saw several Grizzly Bears at the top. The grizzly bears have left since then because of the popularity of the climb, but I can’t help but wonder how terrifying that would be to get to the top of a mountain and find out that there are gigantic bears waiting for you there.

On the summit of Uncompahgre

The next week (week 4) I was again assigned to the group that was coming in but this time there were a few more people coming. Grace Fellowship from Witchita, KS brought 24 students and 5 leaders for a grand total of 29! To remind you the week before we had three students and two leaders so it was a bit of a change of pace around here but totally worth it! I really enjoyed the first day they were here because I was able to lead them in a few cheesy camp games (ie: the shoe game and horse, knight, rider) and then led them in a few cheesy camp songs (ie: Radical God and Jesus Loves Me-clap style). It was very good and they actually enjoyed it. It was probably the best first day we’ve had with a group so far, even though dinner took awhile to prepare because of an incident involving burnt noodles…

The next two days of that week the group did low-ropes, high-ropes and rock-climbing. I was assigned to rock-climbing for the two days. I got to work on my soft skills for those two days because I was assisting with the people who were not quite sure about the height factor of rock climbing. However, all of the students made it to the top of at least one route and were very proud of themselves (and I was too!).

On Wednesday we packed up our huge backpacks and were ready to hit the trail for two and a half days. Since we had such a big group and the road we needed to take required four wheel drive we got to take the army truck!

Ready to leave in the Army Truck

When we got to the trail head we explained such tactics as how to hike uphill, how much food and water a person should consume while hiking, and of course the beloved biff (bathroom in forest floor) talk. The trail we had chosen was a fairly easy one which looped from one valley to another. Basically, we started in the same place we finished. The guys went one direction and the gals went the other, we had planned to meet up in the middle but were unsuccessful… (both groups ended up going off trail).

The whole group (I'm on the far right)

The gals enjoying the scenery

I got to know all thirteen of the girls and the two leaders during the trip and I was able to get to know a few of the girls quite well. It was fun to see them grow as leaders and in their faith throughout the week. When they got here they were all pretty shy and didn’t know each other really well. But, when they left, new friendships had developed, confidence had flourished, and I could really see how God had grabbed a hold of many of their hearts. Since this was an extended trip (eight days), I felt even closer to the group than usual which made it even harder to say goodbye to them. I will admit, I shed a couple of tears as they drove off in their three fifteen passenger vans and I do miss them. But, I know that more groups will be coming in and I can stay in touch with them via Facebook. I will miss them, though. The whole group was a huge blessing to me and I know that many of them in that group will go on to do great things for the Lord!

Expeditions Gals

And now for this week’s happenings (week 5). This week is open sign-ups for Rock Camp. What that means is individuals (not just youth groups) can come for camp. Since it is a rock camp the group has been going rock climbing every day so far and will do so the entire ten days they are here with the exception of the two days they climb up Ninja route to summit Unnamed 13,394. The group has been in Gunnison climbing at Hartman’s for the past few days so it’s been relatively quite around here. Those of us not on this trip have been building a fence (again), going for hikes around the area, rock climbing, sleeping, building a sand volleyball court, and preparing for the extremely busy weeks to follow. Us gals had a girls night at Kristin’s house a few days ago which was a much needed time of fun and rest. We ate some amazing food with fresh berries for dessert, watched ‘Secondhand Lions’, and slept on some amazing temperpedic beds. Even though the beds were comfortable we all woke up at least once during the night (probably because our body was confused as to why we were sleeping indoors). We also had a hotdog/s’more roast at Kristin’s the next evening where Meghan made her first hotdog over a campfire. Astounding, I know! She’s 22 and has not roasted a hotdog over an open campfire until now!

I have started running this week and I’m surprised at how long I can go at this altitude. My lungs are basically going to be unstoppable when I get back to Minnesota.

Random fact about the pine trees around here: about two weeks ago I started smelling something that was terribly foul. The first time I smelled it I was with Meghan and it was like we had walked into a wall of death. The smell forced us backwards just about and we decided it smelled like a mixture of death and garbage. I figured it was something that would pass away in a few days but it started to waft into more places around camp. About a week later one of the full time staff here informed me that the cedar trees around here have some sort of fungus growing on them and that is the smell’s origin. I’ve been getting used to the smell but it definitely is in my top five for worst smells.

There has been more rain around here lately which has been nice. The dust storms have calmed down because of it and being in a valley surrounded by mountains makes thunder sound that much more awesome!

Brianna has been healing really well! She’s been helping us with worship, low and high ropes, and has been going on some longer hikes around here. Looking at her you wouldn’t even know that she was in a serious bike accident a month ago! She still has a long way to go but is doing more and more everyday. She has a doctors appointment on the 9th so we’re hoping that he gives her the go ahead to carry a backpack and sleep outside again. Thanks for all of your prayers! She has really learned a lot through this and is thankful for the speedy recovery.

Lake City is crowded with tourists at the moment because a lot of people from Texas come here to vacation over the fourth of July. On the fourth all the shops in downtown are open, people are everywhere, there are three legged races and other things like that going on, there is a parade in the afternoon, and to top it all off there are fireworks after dark. I’m looking forward to the parade because Redcloud always drives the army trucks in it and the expeditions staff get to repel off the sides of them! In other words I get to dangle from the side of a WW2 army truck by my climbing harness in a small town parade. (Don’t worry Mom, it’s safe! J)

Next week we don’t have a group coming in so we’re planning an all Expeditions staff trip. We’re not entirely sure what we want to do yet but we’re thinking rock climbing somewhere, a three day backpacking trip either on the continental divide trail or around Ouray, CO. Also, possibly a few other things such as cliff jumping/diving or whitewater kayaking but we shall see. I’ll let you know what we did after the week is over.

That’s all I can think to tell you for the moment… If I think of any interesting stories I forgot to tell you I’ll try to get those up.

Prayers:

- Safety for our rock camp group this week

- Courage among the campers that have been here to share what they have learned

- Safety among the staff

- That a newness and excitement is brought with every group that comes.

- Fun and safety on our staff trip

- That I find time to do everything, and do it well

- Health and rest among staff

Praises:

- Brianna’s recovery

- The fact that I get to see the most amazing parts of God’s beautiful creation everyday!

- Sleeping outside

- Great groups

- Staff bonding and friendships

- Great food and cooking outside

- Fun in all the activities

- Safety in all the activities

- Warm weather

- Thunderstorms

- God teaching campers, me, and other staff great things so far this summer!

Thanks! Love you all! God bless!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Staff Training and the First Week

It’s been awhile since my last entry. I apologize for that but I literally have had no time.

Since I last wrote a lot and I mean A LOT has happened. I’ll try to fill you in on the biggest, most important, and most exciting parts. I’m sorry that this is so long but like I said quite a bit has been going on.

Well, the rest of the staff got here a couple weeks ago and I’ve been able to get to know them. However, we don’t spend much time with the other branches of camp. Expeditions (aka: wilderness) is like the relative that everyone sees at big family events but doesn’t have time to stop by for frequent visits. We do like to keep to ourselves but for the most part that is because we don’t have time to branch out. But, we all still like hanging out with each other, so hopefully we don’t get sick of one another.

Let me briefly explain the other ‘branches’ of camp Redcloud that I am talking about.

- Adventure camp – this consists of a staff around 20 people. They are what you could call ‘typical camp counselors’. They work with 8-14 year olds who come to camp for the week for games, bible studies, and other activities.

- Family camp – this consists of a staff around 20 people as well. Redcloud has a HUGE log cabin that is sort of like a nice hotel. Families come for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for a type of vacation. The family camp staff are in charge of doing activities with the children and the adults such as games, canoeing, and mountain biking.

- Equestrian program – Redcloud has a heard of 52 horses and about 10 people are in charge of taking care of these horses and running horse camp. Horse camps run just about every week and involve learning the basics to going on a multi-day trip on trails through the mountains on horseback.

- Operations – this is the ‘catch-all’ branch of Redcloud. Operations includes kitchen staff, maintenance, custodial, and office staff.

- Expeditions – this is the branch that I work in. We lead base camps, backpacking trips, rock camps and we assist the other branches of Redcloud in activities such as rock climbing, high ropes, whitewater rafting and peak climbs.

Some of the other things I was able to do during staff training was repelling, high ropes course, and a four-day backpacking trip.

Repelling was fun. The cliff that we repel off of is only about 30 feet tall but because of the nature of the hill it’s on it looks like you go almost 100 feet down. It started to snow while we were there but we still had a good time because while we were waiting for a turn to go we played ninja. It got really intense and Nick kept diving for people and as a result fell several times; once he almost fell of the side of the cliff.


Jeanne Marie, Jake and Nick playing Ninja

High ropes was a lot more challenging that I anticipated. The fact that I was at least 20 feet off the ground the whole time did get to me a few times but don’t worry, I was securely strapped in to a safety wire by two ropes that can hold upwards of 6,000 pounds each. The upper section was a partner section and I learned that laughing really hard while trying to balance on a wire about the size of a finger is not an easy task. I also ended up using many muscles that I didn’t even know existed.

The High Ropes Course

Our backpacking trip was so much fun! We left right after church on Sunday and got back around noon on Wednesday. Just to give you an idea of how little we brought with us I’ll tell you what I packed. One rain jacket, one warm fleece jacket, one long sleeve shirt, one short sleeve shirt, one pair of rain pants, one pair of hiking pants, one pair of shorts, one pair of long underwear bottoms, two pairs of underwear, one bra, three pairs of wool hiking socks (one pair I kept in my sleeping bag so I could sleep in clean socks every night), hiking boots, one hat, one pair of gloves, sandals, a few small items like chapstick and a brush, and that’s about it. I did have to carry some food and some tent poles but for the most part it was really simple living. I wore the same outfit everyday, which made choosing what to put on in the morning very simple.

We only hiked for about 1.5 miles the first day. We took a lot of time learning about compasses and maps, choosing a campsite, cooking with the ultra-lite stoves and of course biffing in the great outdoors. Biff stands for bathroom in forest floor, I hope you can figure out what we mean by that. On that note, I have become quite skilled at biffing and when we got back I almost missed not having a toilet. But I won’t say anymore about that for the sake of those who feel uncomfortable right now. If you have further questions or if you want my recommendations on biffing please ask. I was also able to share my testimony with the group that night and we played a fun get-to-know-you game that involved M&M’s.

The first night was not very fun. It was uber windy all night and it snowed some. I didn’t warm up until we started hiking later that morning.

The second day we hiked about five miles. I surprisingly didn’t get that tired or sore. The weather was nice and the view were good. I really enjoyed the fact that we got to hike through some snow during the afternoon. The campsite we stayed at was a site that is used by a hunting guide service, but they only use it during the fall for elk hunting. That night it was less windy so we were able to have a fire. The sky was super clear and beautiful that night and we got the best smore talk I have ever been a part of. One of the full-time staff, Steve, has a smore making system that is super legit! He gave us a good 15 minute speech on how to properly make a smore. It was a good way to end the day.

This is the group with our packs on

The third day was a lot like the second, but I was the official route finder. We hiked for about six miles and I am now very good at using a compass and a map. We camped right by a large creek, but the ground was really lumpy. Inside our tent (which by the way is named the Taj Mahal because it’s the biggest tent camp owns fitting 6 people quite comfortably) we had some foliage and several large mounds of earth. I slept on top of one of those mounds which at first made for a nice lumbar support but I remember waking up sometime in the middle of the night thinking I was sleeping on the side of a hill. Because of that I tried grabbing onto whatever I could to keep from rolling down this giant imaginary hill. I ended up grabbing Brianna (the person sleeping next to me) before I finally woke up and realized what was going on. Needless to say I do not recommend sleeping on a large mound of dirt, but somehow I didn’t have any weird cramps that morning.

The fourth day started off interestingly. I woke up to Meghan stating, “They left us.” It was about 8:00am which was definitely sleeping in, especially for a pack trip. It turned out that our three bosses who were with us decided to leave us all to get to the trail head by ourselves that day. We weren’t scared by this because we only had about one more mile to go, but it was just the fact that they left us without notice that gave us something to talk about. We were pretty mad about the fact that they didn’t even take their tent with them, so we had to carry another tent!

We did make it to the trail head in really good time! On the way we saw a heard of elk, cows, and newly blooming flowers. The road up to the trailhead was closed, however, so we had to walk four miles on a road which was not very fun because my feet were definitely starting to hurt by that point. But we made it and were welcomed with ice cream sandwiches!

The Gals

The Guys (being cool)

When we got back we cleaned up all the group gear and took showers (we all stunk pretty bad by that point). After the much needed showers we dressed up a little bit (and by dressed up I mean jeans and a non-t-shirt) and went over to Sarah and Mark’s house for a celebration dinner of Cornish game hens stuffed with wild rice and cranberries. Sarah is such a good cook! We also got to play with their four wonderful kids and talk about the trip, but we left pretty early to go to bed because the next day was peak day.

4:00am Thursday morning. Yes, that is the time I woke up to get ready for the day. I had to pack my day bag and be down to breakfast at 5:00am to be ready to leave for Redcloud peak. We leave that early for several reasons. One, climbing a peak takes a long time. Usually if a group starts climbing at 7:00am they don’t reach the summit until 11:00-2:00. Most groups don’t even actually reach the summit by 2:30pm in which case we have to turn around so we don’t get stuck because of the darkness of night. Two, it gets windier and windier as the day goes on and some of the last few hundred feet of trail are covered in snow. Wind and slippery snow do not go well together and we don’t really want anyone to fall off of a mountain because he loses his balance in the wind. Three, driving to a trail as the sun is rising is extremely beautiful!

For this peak climb I was able to lead the adventure camp. I wasn’t planning on it because it was supposed to be Cyndi, Meghan and myself leading them together but Cyndi hurt her knee on our pack trip and Meghan hurt her foot, so they stayed at camp to recover for the day leaving me in charge. I was a little nervous having never climbed a mountain before and now being the ‘expert’ leading a group of people my age. It went really well though and I learned a lot. I feel much more confident about leading other groups for the coming weeks this summer.

The climb itself was very grueling. It was physically difficult because of the altitude, rocks, and snow but very worth it once we got to the top. The view from the top was unlike any other. It felt like I was on the top of the world! I could see for about 100 miles in every direction. Pictures just don’t do the view justice. I’m very excited for the next time I get to climb to the top of a peak.

Me at the peak of Redcloud

The next day was thankfully a lot of sitting around and listening. We learned more about how to lead a group and organize a trip. We also packed out food for this week. That night we were treated to another amazing meal at family camp and took an all staff picture. We had also made plans to go to Gunnison on our day off for rock climbing, mountain biking, and a Wal-Mart run.

Friday night a few of us decided to sleep outside. Four of us girls slept on the porch of the cove and Nick slept in his hammock that was six feet above our heads. We slept in until 9:00, packed our bags, packed up some bikes and helmets and took off towards Gunnison.

The weather was awesome! It had to have been around 80F with very little wind and no clouds in the sky. The trails for mountain biking were unbelievable! There were a few steep uphill climbs but for the most part it was slightly downhill with some fun curves and dips. It was a fun thrill until we got to a really steep downhill section. Just to warn you this next part of the story is not the happiest. We couldn’t see the entire trail but Fritz who was an experienced mountain biker went first and made it all the way to the bottom. Then Meghan, who also has some experience with biking went and made it to the bottom. So Brianna decided to take her turn before she got any more nervous. The other three of us at the top never saw her come out at the bottom. Then we saw Fritz turn around towards where she must have been. Then Meghan turned around towards her as well. At this point the rest of us decided to walk down and explore the situation. After going down the trail a few feet I saw that the trail got increasingly steeper and more rocky. A little further down I saw Brianna laying face down with Fritz and Meghan on her side. I definitely did not want to refresh myself on my Wilderness First Aid training that I had just completed but it looked like that was what was going to happen. We were still on an incline but we had to roll her over so we did that. She was complaining of back pain and shoulder pain. I got the job of stabilizing her head for the hour that we were there. If you ever want a really good arm workout, stabilize someone’s head for an hour. My arms were very tired when the whole ordeal was done. Thankfully Meghan is a Wilderness First Responder and very good at it. Fritz rode to find Steve who is an EMT intermediate. We ended up calling an ambulance and putting her on a backboard to go to the hospital in Gunnison. Once she left safely in the ambulance all we could do was pray and wait so the rest of us decided to finish out the trail we were on. It was about 4:30 by the time we got back to our vehicles and none of us had eaten lunch so we left the trail/climbing area to go to a pizza place in town. By this time we got a call about Brianna so we went to the hospital to see her. She was still undergoing x-rays so we got the group that was at the hospital and we all went to get pizza. We were all a little slap happy because of tiredness, being in the sun all day, and the mental exhaustion of Brianna’s accident, so dinner was entertaining to say the least. The pizza was really good and almost everyone I work with likes supreme pizza!!! SO AWESOME!

We went back to the hospital to visit Brianna and found out that she broke her collar bone in two places and fractured four vertebrae. Thankfully the vertebrae broke in an area that will be able to heal themselves in about four to six weeks without much problems. Thank God!

Before we left Gunnison for the evening we stopped at the local grocery store (which is about half the size of the grocery stores around home but still the closest and largest grocery store to Lake City). I bought some Red Vines and Milk. They don’t serve milk here because it’s expensive so I had to go without milk for about two weeks! It was a very bleak two weeks.

So the whole 911 emergency was the reason I was unable to write a blog post last weekend. I apologize and I hope you will forgive me.

On Sunday we went to Grace church in Lake City. It’s a very nice little church. I really enjoy going to it. After church we went to the bakery in town which has the most amazing pastries ever! And they aren’t too expensive and the bakery itself is only a few blocks from church. I feel like that will be a normal stop after church.

Around 3:00 our first group of campers from Veritas private school near Austin, TX came. I got the job of cleaning bathrooms and the weatherports. But I did get to wear my cool staff shirt so that made it all the better.

I’ll let you know what a day in the life of an Expeditions staff member at Redcloud looks like. A typical day involves waking up around 6:00am. Meeting at 7:00am for prayer and then breaking off for individual devotional time. At 8:00am we meet at the cooking area to make breakfast which is quickly becoming my favorite meal of the day. I get to eat lots of scrambled eggs, bacon, breakfast burritos, French toast, blueberry pancakes, and fresh fruit. Around 9:00 I pack up my bright orange backpack (aka: my day bag) with everything from raingear to a climbing harness so I can be fully prepared for whatever the day may bring. Once everyone is packed up we leave for the day’s destination. Everyday is different but for the most part I’ll be going with groups to low and high ropes courses, rock climbing and repelling, the peak of a mountain, or whitewater rafting. At noon the group stops for lunch and rest for a bit before we pick up where we left off. We return to the cove somewhere between 5:00 and 7:00pm to unpack our stuff, use real bathrooms and start preparing dinner. After we have eaten diner and dessert, we either head up to the chapel for an evening talk or around a bonfire. Then it’s quickly off to bed around 10:00pm.

This week I’m on what we like to call ‘logistics crew’. Basically I’m not officially assigned to the group that is here but I do still have to work. A big part of what I’ve been doing is cooking, washing dishes, and cleaning. I don’t really mind any of it. In fact I’m really enjoying this week. I like cooking the meals because we get to be outside and I just really enjoy cooking in the first place. The dishes are kind of a drag but we get the campers to do most of them so it’s not too bad. I’ve cleaned the bathroom a few times which is surprisingly fun. I bring my laptop in there and crank some tunes and get to have some personal time, which can sometimes be hard to come by when you work at a camp.

A little bit about the town I’m living in. Lake city is like a blast from the past. There is one main road through town and if more than five cars are on it at a time it’s considered a traffic jam. There are a few coffee shops, a soda shop, several novelty stores, restaurants, a super small bakery, and a few other shops. All of these businesses look like they were built in the 1930’s and haven’t been changed much except for a new coat of paint or two. While driving through the town the people are seen wearing blue jeans, cowboy hats, and/or skirts. They are usually watering their lawns, fixing their bikes or cars, or just simply sitting on their porch drinking coffee. High school graduation happened last weekend. All four of the graduating seniors were blessed with a beautiful sunny day. One of the seniors is the son of a full time staff member at Redcloud and for his graduation gift he is going sky diving, he seemed excited to say the least.

An update on Brianna (the one who had the mountain biking accident). She had to stay in the Gunnison Hospital overnight but was able to come back to camp later on Sunday. Quick fun fact about her accident: a bike helmet saved her life! The helmet had a huge dent in it and was broken all the way through on the back. Wear a helmet!

She’s been staying in one of the rooms in the giant family cabin. Her parents drove up from Nebraska to stay with her for about three days. I got to meet them and they were both really nice and I could tell that Brianna was happy to have them there. Since those of us on the logistics crew didn’t have much to do in the afternoons we went over to visit her which was a lot of fun. She just had surgery on her clavicle Wednesday afternoon in Gunnison and it went extremely well. She now has about an inch wide plate holding her clavicle in place. She is starting to walk around a bit more and is feeling better each and every day. Her parents left for home yesterday morning but she will be staying here. She’s either going to be staying with Mark and his family or Kristin and her roommate Amy for the next couple of weeks. The doctors said that she should be able to go on hikes and things like that in about five weeks! Until then she will probably be helping us with things like cooking, cleaning and hanging out with the kids.

This weekend I will be helping the LEAD program (this is like Redcloud’s version of the BUDDIES program) on a rock climbing day. In other words, I get to spend a day in the sun supervising climbing, belaying, and repelling. Next week there are only four boys coming so all of us girls are planning on having girls night every night at Kristin’s house because she has a house with a TV and a hot tub! Brianna will be able to join us and we are all looking forward to that!

One last thing. Cyndi, Ryan and I had about an hour of free time last night so what did we decide to go do? Deer chasing! There were about ten mule deer in the field by camp last night and we had a previous conversation about if a guy were to slap an animal he would get a man point. However, Cyndi and I didn’t want the guys to have all the fun so we joined Ryan in this quest. We attempted to get them twice but were unable to get close enough… We figure, though, that it is only the beginning of the summer and we will be experts at chasing deer by the end of the summer. I’m really glad that the staff can be as crazy and up for anything as I am!

Prayer Requests:

- Brianna and healing quickly

- Continued energy among the staff

- Safety on our activities

- Some rain around here would be nice

- Continued relationship building among the staff

Praises:

- The first week went well

- I’ve gotten to play some guitar

- The weather has be gorgeous

- Brianna being able to stay here at camp and still be involved with the ministry here

- I’ve been able to start some good friendships with several of the staff already.

- The campers this week really learned a lot about themselves and more importantly about their relationship with God.

- Whitewater rafting was awesome!


Thanks! Love you all! God bless!