Snow, Ice, and Community

The Journey to the Village

After several days of travel by plane, bus, and boat, we have successfully arrived at our final destination.  From Chelan, our group took a 50 mile ferry voyage up the fjord-like Lake Chelan. After landing, we joined in a group effort to unload luggage and supplies for the village. Then it was time for yet another bus ride, this time up 13 switchbacks, 2,200 vertical feet, and 11 miles through a steep glacial valley to the village itself. Quite the journey, but it was worth it.

Holden: A Natural Community

Holden Village is one of the most remote communities, but the travel difficulties fade away as soon as you reach the village itself. A collection of refurbished mining buildings from 1937, nestled beneath the towering Cascade Mountains of the Glacier Peak Wilderness, Holden is a winter wonderland, complete with 3 feet of snow on the ground. Although the village recieves less than 2 hours of direct sunlight every day, a combination of warm weather and recent rain has made for great snow ball conditions. Surprise attacks and wild sled rides ending in waist deep snow have abounded among us students.

As amazing as the landscape and scenary are, it is the people of Holden Village who make it the wonderful place that it is. A combination of staff and long-term volunteers means that Holden is, in many ways, a self sufficient community. While the village depends on shipments of food from Lake Chelan, the village generates its electricity through a hydroelectric system and processes its own water and waste. Everyone in the village takes part in the jobs necessary to keep everything running smoothly. Our group was assigned to work crews as well, ranging from facilities to kitchen work, or even accounting.

Daily Life at Holden

When not doing engaged with classes or outdoor recreation, people often enjoy playing pool, ping-pong, and cards in the common area, or weaving, knitting, and painting in the Craft Cave. There is also a 24 hour toast, coffee, and loose leaf tea bar, complete with homemade jam, so we have been taking advantage of that.

Although we have been at Holden for less than 36 hours, we can already feel ourselves settling into the routines that will define our Holden experience for the next 3 weeks. Along with class and communal meals, Holden's focus on community extends to the area of faith and fitness as well. As a part of daily Vespers, we have taken part in the new year's blessing of the village's buildings and enjoyed a bonfire of Christmas trees as a part of the celebration of Epiphany. Other activities have included an ultimate frisbee tournament in the gym and pottery or weaving lessons. To top off our activity filled days, we have also taken advantage of the sauna, alternating between 160 degree heat and a pool of 38 degree water. It is quite the shock, but it helps to revitalize our bodies after a long day.

We are excited to learn more about Holden Village and for avalanche and winter safety training, which will allow us to explore the area around the village. More adventures to come!

'Til next time, let it snow!

Ellie Magner on the Lady of the Lake ferry on the ride across Lake Chelan.
Ian Punke, Hunter Lynch, and Nora Felt pitching in and carrying luggage from the ferry to the bus.
Clouds glow over Buckskin Mountain as the sun sets on Holden Village.
Lodge #6 glows as the moon begins to poke through the clouds.