Our Semester & Salmon

We arrived at the Learning Center and were greeted with Taco Tuesday, a welcome sight. The second day after sleeping in some very comfortable beds the group worked on trail construction with Tyler, one of the residents. We chopped up trees and branches in order to better clear a path to the 200 plus-year-old cedars. This allowed for older residents to get around the trails, so they needed to be clear and flat. After the hard work on the trail, we returned to the residence and some of us got the privilege to sit in the hot tub.

We also had the amazing opportunity to see salmon at the end of their lifecycle, swimming up the river to lay their eggs and then die. This was a beautiful end to the path we have followed throughout Washington. Beginning in Winthrop we saw salmon spawning grounds and a fishery, where the salmon are born. From there we drove along the Columbia River, passing dams that have impeded salmon and greatly affected their population levels. We then drove to the coast of Washington, where the salmon would reach the saltwater and remain for 3-5 years of their lives. We followed them into the ocean during our time at Orcas Island. Finally, we followed the salmon back into the rivers as they return to the same spot they were born in. Finally seeing these massive fish as they moved through these shallow creeks was such a beautiful way to underline this cycle. The day was also festive because it was Zack’s birthday, so for dinner we had apple chicken and for dessert we had huckleberry cake.

On our third day we helped out with their composting, creating wood chips using a wood chipper. Other groups planted ferns and raked leaves to help out the farm. The next day we took our COVID tests to prepare for Hawaii, and many of us got to ship excess stuff home. In the afternoon, the group got to make apple cider, drinking it under the exact tree from which the apples had come. Today, the group helped out by chopping wood for firewood. Lots of axes and a hydraulic press were used. Today was also marked by celebration because, after four years, we will have a new president! However, there was also sorrow as this was Jack’s last full day. As such, it was marked with festivities and a drum circle. We love you, Jack!

-Ian & Zack