The Return of Semester 16

Alzar School | 23.07.21

This summer, Alzar School’s Spring 2020 class had the opportunity to travel back to Idaho for their long-awaited Idaho expedition block. This opportunity was originally delayed and rescheduled for summer 2021 due to the pandemic. For two weeks, Spring 2020 alums backpacked through Idaho’s Gospel Hump Wilderness and floated down the rapids of the Lower Salmon River. 

Arriving on a June afternoon, campus was once again filled with boisterous laughter and the excited voices of our Semester 16 class. As they settled into the friendly yurts and gathered in the dining hall for meals, students told stories of their last year apart from one another. It was obvious that students were incredibly eager to spend time with one another back in Idaho.

Setting out on expedition, students first traveled on foot through the Gospel Hump Wilderness. This area is divided by two contrasting climates — dense, moist forests to the north and dry, hot, barren landscapes to the south. The area’s namesake peaks, such as Buffalo Hump, are drastically situated at 8,940 feet, towering 7,000 feet above the Salmon River.

Students prioritized quality time over high-mileage days. They showed grit when faced with swarms of relentless mosquitos, as well as displaying resourcefulness when expedition plans evolved. Adventuring during a notably hot week in Idaho, students enjoyed dunking in various creeks along their backpacking route and swimming in the cool waters of the Salmon River. In just one year since their Alzar School semester, this group has grown so much and brought a lot of knowledge to the table. They sought opportunities to assert their independence by applying backcountry skills, offered encouragement to one another, and asked thoughtful questions especially in regards to wilderness medicine and communications. In forests and along the river, there were campfires nearly every night. Around the campfire, students held evening meetings, told stories, and reflected on life. 

Upon returning back to campus after their excursions in the Idaho wilderness, we were thrilled to hear a buzz of excitement and fulfillment from the Spring 2020 cohort. We wish them the best of luck this summer and upcoming school year and hope to see them back on campus soon.