Block Breaks: Adventures in the Desert and in the Snow

The block plan at Quest is quite intense. Three and a half weeks of assignments, deadlines, and readings about one subject can be tiring, especially when the mountains outside are covered in snow and beautiful rock climbing is right around the corner. Luckily, after every block we have a long weekend off of classes, without any homework, to take our minds off of school for a bit. For the last two block breaks, I got to go to the Keyhole hot springs in Pemberton and travel down to Oregon to climb at Smith Rock.

The first block break of this semester, me and some fellow students led a trip to the Keyhole hot springs through a student organization called the Adventure Club. At the break of dawn on Thursday morning we took off with a group of students for a three-hour long drive over the Sea-to-Sky Highway. When we got to the 42 kilometer mark on one of the many logging roads around Pemberton, we parked our cars, picked up our gear and started snowshoeing. We trekked through a winter-wonderland of forest, rocks, rivers and snow to arrive at our campsite. After setting up camp in the cold snow, the steaming pools filled with warm spring water gave us a great place to spend the rest of the afternoon. When the evening came we built a campfire and started making dinner. Many of us were bit cold now that were not in the hot water anymore, but spirits remained high and after some camping dinner we all crawled into our tents, hammocks and sleeping bags to spend the night. The next morning we woke up late, made breakfast, broke up camp, hiked out and drove back to campus ready for the next block.

During following weeks we all got a taste of some early spring sunshine in Squamish. Every day at lunch at least twenty students would be sitting outside in the sunshine talking, playing music and ‘Hacky Sacking’, but when block break came around the weather forecast predicted all rain… After talking with some friends we decided to escape the rain and chase the sunshine down to Oregon and spend our block break climbing at Smith Rock. We left Wednesday straight after class and drove all through the night to arrive at our campsite at 4:30 am! After some hours of well-needed sleep we woke up to a desert landscape with massive rock pillars towering up around our campsite. The sun was starting to warm us up, and after a quick breakfast we headed out to the rocks. The next days we were climbing from the moment we woke up and we hiked back to our tents when the sun set at night. After a couple of days of great climbing the rain eventually caught up with our escape, putting an end to our climbing. Luckily, this was only at the end of our third day and we barely spent any time sitting around in the rain. The next morning the bad weather had already left us again and we woke to a blue sky. It was still early, because we had to drive back up to campus, back to the rain.  Our drive back was filled with shenanigans and great pit-stops in Portland and Seattle. We came back late at night and after some sleep and a quick read over the homework for the coming course, the next block began.

These trips, although they were not organized for any sort of class or with any type of academic purpose, might well have been some of the more impactful experiences I have had at Quest so far. They allowed me to connect with fellow students over something other than academics and to get to know them better. And I cannot wait to find out what the next block break will have in store for me!

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