Jordan: Today, we went to Walnut Canyon and hiked a trail around a mountain “island” surrounded by other mountains and mini canyons as far as you could see. All around the rocks were small rooms or cliff dwellings that were carved into the cliffs by the Native Americans that lived there. Seeing the history of the land really showed a new perspective on the land and how sacred nature is. After hiking the trails, we headed off to do a ropes course and team building exercises at the campus. When we arrived, we were all given pieces of PVC pipe and instructed to get a marble into a far-away bucket by sending the marble through our attached pipes. However, restrictions on movement and marble handling limited us, and it took a while for us to discover a way to get the marble in the bucket using teamwork. Then, we had another activity which we accomplished much more quickly and moved on to the ropes course. On the first part, we could climb a wooden telephone pole with spikes on the sides like a ladder up to a platform and then jump to grab onto a hanging bar. Everyone in the group attempted this, some hesitant and some eager, and many were able to grab ahold of the bar. It was amazing to see how we all trusted each other as we pulled on the rope that held up the person jumping; although the bar was very far above the ground, almost all of us jumped off without hesitations because we knew that the others would catch us.
Adam: After hiking on day one, I wasn’t exactly in the best mood to go again. When we got Walnut Canyon, I was expecting to start sweating immediately. It was surprisingly cool and I was so relieved. We were waiting to start hiking while others went to the restroom. Joseph, Franky and I started having a flip the bottle contest which we hope to continue throughout the week. When everyone was ready, we starting hiking the trail. The start was a bunch of stairs which I thought were quite relaxing. There were so many neat rooms left by Native Americans. It was so cool seeing the inside of ancient homes and how they looked like before. The view from the path was so beautiful. All these rocks and boulders literally dangling from the side of the cliffs. The trees growing on the floor of the canyon which seemed to be carved with such precision. When everyone made it back up the stairs and had a bathroom break, we went for a shorter hike overlooking the entire canyon. It was so pretty and serene. I also saw three of the prettiest lizards I had ever seen. It was a very chill and fulfilling hike.
Alex: As mentioned previously, today we went hiking around Walnut Canyon. It was a lovely hike, not only due to the relatively cool temperature, but also because of the Sinagua cliff dwellings and the unique wildlife (prickly pears, plants covered with teeny fernleaves, etc.). The cliff dwellings were especially cool because their walls were covered with soot from fires of the people who lived in them, which made it seem more tangible that they were once inhabited. After going home and resting a bit, we went to a ropes course. The high ropes were a little intimidating, but peoples’ willingness to climb up to and jump of a high platform was impressive. We had a yummy “stone soup” meal, cooked by Katie, Parker, Frances, Adam, and William, when we got back to the dorms and played Apples to Apples. Throughout the day we played for square, told riddles, and generally socialized; the “getting to know people better” aspect of the trip is my favorite part.
David: I’ve enjoyed Ropes Courses for a long time, both because they’re fun and challenging, and also because I think they’re theologically illuminating. When we go up in the trees or climb telephone poles and participate in these challenges and elements about 35+ feet off the ground, we’re always hooked into a guide wire so that, even if we slip off a challenge, we’re still connected to the wire. There are times when we’re successful, and there are times when make a misstep or fall short of the next platform we’re trying to reach – and the thing to remember is that whether we succeed or not, God always has us. Today’s Ropes Course adventure gave me a new perspective on this idea: as each person climbed up a telephone pole and jumped off a platform to catch a trapeze bar, all of the members of our group held the other end of the line, keeping the person safe. Today, we got to incarnate God’s never-failing love that holds us whether we catch the bar or not.