Naropa’s LeapYear Students Trek the Himalayas

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Naropa University’s LeapYear program brings together the best of international experiential learning and program of contemplative study that prepares students to make the best use of their college careers.

LeapYear is designed to bring together the best of a gap year with contemplative education, forming a “bridge year” meeting the developmental needs of young adults who are trying to make a conscious transition from family to independence, from high school to college and from adolescence into adulthood.

LeapYear is filled with many opportunities for travel and adventure. The year kicks off with group travel to India or Latin America where a small cohort of students, along with experienced leaders, spend nine weeks exploring these rich cultural landscapes.

Here’s an update from LeapYear Program Leads Frankie and Sterling on their recent trek in the Himalayas to the top of Surya Top mountain:

“Wowza!! What a couple of days it has been for the LeapYear group. We have conquered extreme circumstances at the base camp of Surya Top mountain! We started the trek Friday morning. Once we made it, we settled into our tents, made a fire and drank chai the first night. Later that night, we thought we heard rain on our tents…we were so wrong!! As we woke up the next morning, our tents had been packed with snow. A white winter wonderland was all around us.

As the day continued, we made a decision to stay at the camp that day instead of climbing to the next peak of the mountain. Despite some sickness and emotional challenges, our laughs persisted. As the temperatures dropped, our laughs got louder and our cups got refilled with chai. We had such a great time throwing snowballs and just enjoying our own company. Even as the elevation, low temperatures, and strange water were shocks to some of our bodies, we conquered the cold night ‑ with occasional sickness.

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The next morning, we woke up to two feet of snow surrounding us!! This did not make us nervous ‑ in fact, we had even more energy to climb back down. We made the trek down the mountain later that morning. We are on an adventure of a lifetime, to say the least. For everything on our trek, we are truly grateful. We had fantastic leaders from our Red Chili trekking company. They fed us gourmet meals every day and we had so much fun with all of them. Our group is doing great despite (and because of) what we have been through.

Here are some sweet pictures of all of us and a poem about our adventure. We are excited to start the next chapter of our journey at the Ashram!!”

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Awoke to the sounds of snowfall and dog
Arose to laughter and concerned delight
The orange in the tent darkens by the hour
Crunching feet outside, shake the white layer
The rhythm of frozen rainfallIgnites a fear fire in my mind
Heavy, then light, heavy despite our silent plea
Cold fingers, cold toes
And layers upon layers of unknown
In cocoons we lay, in hopes to pass the day
And arise to descend again
They say below it is raining, a few degrees up
We wish for retreat, for a warmed up cup
Talks of essay, of cuddles, of love.
In this chill the heat rises, warping shoes, testing trust.
But our souls will stay hydrated If we fill each other up.
What a testament of boundaries, this situation we are in
When we all stay put, we dare to try again
Us 9, we are a family, but this may test our tribe
Come around again when the snowfall ends
To connect, we share our blessings; good people, good food, good dog
Split to slumber, gather to hunger
This love will keep us strong
After all, we are in the Himalayas, what a time to be alive!
We are together, weathering this weather After storming, we do thrive

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