Emma Lives A Little

Episode 3: Bathroom Shocks, Rocks, and Vinotok

So far, things have been going smoothly here at Western. At least, they were until I received an email from my RD who revealed that there have been two instances of people pooping in the Ute Second Floor showers. AKA, the showers that I use.He warned us of the Hepatitis B, Syphilis, and Malaria that can accompany shower poop and asked the pooper to come forward to get some help. So of course, people on my floor freaked out. People made signs, begging the pooper to stop pooping, and my roommate and I compulsively check the shower stalls every time we set foot in the bathroom. At this point, I almost miss the early morning fire drills we had to deal with at the beginning of the year. However, I love a good mystery and it’s oddly exciting to enter the bathroom every day, wondering if the serial pooper has left her mark yet again. If the pooper is reading this, I can only ask that you relocate your defecation to the toilets. While your habits do provide a bit of excitement, I would really rather not contract Hep B.

In other news, just yesterday I went rock climbing at Hartman Rocks with Wilderness Pursuits. Yes, I, Emma, went rock climbing. To be fair, a Wilderness Pursuits trip was required by my paddleboarding class, but I have been interested in rock climbing and the dirtbag culture since I got here, so it was a win-win! My friend Hannah and I woke up early to have breakfast with our rock climbing group which included an instructor that looked like an Elvin woodland prince, and then we hit the road. After a bumpy ride through the notoriously sketchy roads at Harman’s, we arrived at a rock face the instructors called The Slab. We all laced up our weird rental climbing shoes and clambered over slippery gravel to the climbs that had been set up for us. Intimidated as I was, (climbing a literal rock face is a lot different than climbing a wall at the gym), Hannah and I took our limited knowledge of 8 knots and belet-ing and and prepared to climb. After we were harnessed and briefed on some climbing lingo, I began my ascent. One of my biggest problems has always been that I worry so much that I get in the way of myself. So, I shoved aside each fear that wiggled into the back of my mind as I gripped small ridges and dug my feet into crevices. As I climbed, I anchored my fingers on a small ridge with a single tiny flower growing out of it and as I looked up, the sun poked out from behind the clouds. Not to sound cheesy, but it was one of those moments where it became clear to me that I belong here.

Image may contain: mountain, sky, nature and outdoor

After a few hours, we took a break for lunch provided by the oh-so-attractive climbing guides and wolfed it down just before it began to rain. We tried to wait out the storm for about half an hour in our van, but it was clear that climbing at that point would be dangerous. So, we headed back to school and spent the next hour or so climbing the massive wall in our gym.

Later that day, my friends and I decided to drive up to Gothic for some fall photos, which was nice since I would be missing mine with my family. The drive from Western took about an hour and as we went, we saw what appeared to be small flakes of snow every once in a while. The fall colors were absolutely gorgeous and it was fun to try to avoid the massive cow patties as we struggled to pose for photos. On our way back from Gothic, we decided to stop by Vinotok. For those of you who don’t know, Vinotok is a storytelling and harvest festival with Pagan roots that takes place in Crested Butte every year. At this festival, one of the biggest events is the trial and burning of The Grump, which represents the grievances of the past year. For more information, check out this video.

When we arrived, it was clear that we had missed the memo. Nearly everyone there was sporting flower crowns made of autumn leaves, deer antlers, furry coats, and other assorted costume-y outfits. We followed the massive crowd to a drum circle, where people were bouncing and writhing and yelling to the beat. It was weird, yet oddly exhilarating.

Here’s a short video I took of the drum circle.  

After a while, it finally came time to try the Grump. My friends and I got as close as we could to the trial platform and waited for half an hour as we gradually got crushed closer and closer together. At last, fire dancers and drummers wove their way through the crowd and took their place on the platform, whipping the crowd into a frenzy. And then, torches appeared in the distance, surrounding a weird wooden sculpture, which I knew could only be the notorious Grump.

The trial featured many characters and subtexts that I didn’t really understand, but there was a lot of chanting for the Grump to be burned and so finally, he was declared guilty. The crowd followed the Grump through the main street of Crested Butte, chanting and singing about feeding the Grump to the flame all the way. At last the torches circled the Grump, and as the chanting intensified, it burst into flames. We watched the year’s grievances burn and left shortly after, though I know many people stayed til the wee hours of the night.

Here is a quick video I took of the Grump Burning. 

What a weird, wacky, and crazy fun weekend, much like the rest of my college experience! Stay tuned next week for my thoughts on Homecoming, including the notorious Burning of the W (apparently mountain people love to burn things), and the games I will be attending!

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