- February 27, 2012
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February 15-17, 2012
After arriving in Helena and going through two days of initial training and orientation, the newest version of the full crew and youth crew leaders for MCC’s Central Divide summer season set out for a three day retreat at a forest service cabin in southern Montana.
Fearless leaders Josiah “just give me a comedian and a soccer ball” Gray and Devin “just try and grow a better beard than me” Olson successfully navigated the perilous forest service roads and the crew arrived at the cabin early Wednesday afternoon. Following a brief stretch circle and unpacking of the rigs, the group strapped on some snowshoes (many for the first time) and headed off down the trail to do some learning.
Alex and Kate were first up in doing some educating, and picked a serene spot to teach the team about hygiene and filtration. The team learned about gravity and pump filters, as well as the importance of maintaining personal hygiene for full crew health. After all, as they say, “less hands is more hands”.
The team concluded the hike with a riveting game of Ninja. Despite a valiant effort by our very own Miranda, the contest came down to two Ninja pros - Andy and Amanda would square off in a battle requiring supreme athleticism, quick-thinking, and heart: swordfight. The duel was closely fought, but in the end Amanda pulled out a nearly unanimous victory (Andy maintained his feet weren’t set and therefore a rematch was in order).
Arriving back at the cabin, Erin and Danny briefly taught the team how to use a Whisperlite camp stove - complete with a successful demonstration. Little did the group know that only moments later some of their very own would have to put this knowledge to the test to save the crew from hunger. A dinner of stir fry was on the menu, and despite repeated attempts by the Coleman stove to thwart their efforts, Erin and Rainy persevered and whipped up a delicious dinner using every hot surface in sight.
The group concluded the evening with a new twist on bios - folks would think up questions and the group would take turns answering. This turned out to be a great, and often hilarious, way for the team to get to know one another. The group retired to their sleeping bags for a good night’s rest.
Day 2 began early for some, as Amanda and Kait prepared piles of perfect pancakes, fighting the evil Coleman stove the entire time. After a filling breakfast, stretching, and snapping on of snowshoes, the team found itself once again heading out on the trail.
Roughly a mile and a half in, Greg set up an impromptu conference room of sorts, displaying some expert snowshoeing skills in the process. Amanda and Andy we up first, teaching the group some tips and tricks for maximizing space when packing, leaving plenty of room for folks to provide their own ideas too. The oxymoronic duo of Sonny and Rainy followed this up with a hands on lesson about the ethics of leave no trace, drawing on some of their own experiences for examples.
The team once again set out on the trail, with lunch just visible on the horizon. Greg and Devin found a great lunch spot with a beautiful view of the bear tooth mountain range (I think?). A few exciting games later, Devin led a hike back, blazing a trail through the forest to arrive back at the cabin.
It was mid afternoon when the group completed their trek, leaving a bit of time before dinner. Not ones to idle while there are perfectly good chores to get done, a plan of action was quickly established and the team broke to split some wood, filter some water, and get organized. During the hustle and bustle, Greg stealthily snuck away, preparing for a game of life and death unlike any the team had encountered before.
We all remember where we were on that day, a chilling wind blowing and the sky darkening overhead. Weary, off of our guard and hungry for the upcoming dinner, we were startled into action as Greg announced that a plane had crashed in a nearby shark infested ocean, and there was only one survivor - an infant had washed ashore, hungry and crying. After a brief moment of silence for the fallen victims of that fateful flight, we huddled up to determine how we we going to get that baby off of that island. The team considered lasso-ing the baby, sacrificing some of our own, and scooping him into a hat, but in the end settled on a course of action in which many had attempted but few had succeeded: creating a bridge of rope, and climbing over to rescue the baby ourselves.
There stood a single tree in the center of the island. We rushed to swing our rope over a branch, circle the tree once, and bring the two ends of the rope together to form our bridge. The group nervously glanced at one another, wondering who would risk life and limb for the baby. In the end, it was Alex who volunteered. Summoning up unknown strength, the group dug in as Alex deftly placed hand over hand, foot over foot, to make his way toward the island. We quickly realized our mistake as Alex had no way to get to the baby from his angle. He clambered back down, barely escaping death by shark, and we took a minute to regroup.
The solution was clear: we had to approach the baby from the other side of the island. We quickly wrapped the rope around the tree a second time, and found ourselves once again looking for a man of character, a man of heart, a man willing to take a chance. Fittingly, that man was Chance himself. Displaying skill and speed rivaling only Alex, Chance had the baby in hand in no time at all, and with help from Andy, made it back safely to shore. Teamwork, perseverance, and some sweet climbing skills were all pivotal to the rescue.
Hungry and ready to celebrate the day’s victory, Andy and Chance whipped up equal parts Mac, equal parts Cheese, some parts vegetable for the cheesiest and most delicious Mac and Cheese (goulash for those of you unfamiliar) ever eaten. Bios ensued, highlighted by Josiah’s desert island trip and Andy’s dating experiences. Things quickly wound down, some sleeping, some chatting, and some expressing their desire for a hot tub trip while sleeping.
Morning was burrito time, and Sonny and Miranda cooked some delicious ones. Miranda followed up a great breakfast by teaming up with Chance for a great lesson on knot tying - certainly piquing the team’s interest as many expressed their desire to learn more. Games were played, cleaning was done, rigs were swamped, and the crew headed back to Helena after a great trip.
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