Unfortunately, earlier on in the week a few of our crew (Olivia, Peter and Mollie) were feeling sick, so they had decided to get some extra well-deserved rest at the end of the long school week. However, Nate wanted to take full advantage of the clear skies and got the rest of us together for some good old-fashioned star gazing.
Of course, we couldn't just head out onto the balcony behind our dorm. Where's the fun in that? Besides, it's hard to come by much complete darkness in order to get a clear view these days, due to all the light pollution in cities, which meant we had to find the darkness.
We started a stopwatch at 7:15 and began the hike, armed with flashlights and headlamps as well as plenty of layers. Over the course of an hour, we hiked to the base of the Hogback and then up the rocky side, encountering a couple slippery spots, loose rock (it's nearly all sandstone!) and more than a few cacti-- most of which wanted to get a little too friendly with me, leaving several spines in my palms. I'll have to forgive them; the poor dears didn't know any better and just wanted to make friends, I'm sure. If nothing else, we sure got an exercise in teambuilding, with one going ahead and pointing out where others should and should not step, and (for the most part) helping each other avoid further friendly cacti.
At 8:17 precisely, we sat at the peak of the Hogback and switched off all our lights. Success. Light pollution: minimal. After heading up the hillside approximately 900 feet in elevation, the view was spectacular. We spent about half an hour at the peak pointing out constellations and reflecting on where we are and what we are doing.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and since ascending already took an hour, descending would surely take even longer. We did get lost, but none of us were too bothered by that, as it was a chance to see and do more. Our only guide was the lights of the campus's complex, which we aimed towards when figuring out how to get down the rocky side.
We forgot to reset our stopwatch, but time seemed to pass quickly as we figured out where to go and how to do it, and we entertained each other with stories about growing up, ranging from broken arms to embarrassing family gatherings.
Watching time pass in this place is a funny thing. It feels as though the world is stopping and starting as we travel from point A to point B at different speeds, and in many cases, that time goes by far too quickly. I may not know much, but I believe this to be true: although we have only a few days left, the amount of what we have accomplished speaks far louder than the short amount of time we spend here.