Today was our first day of community impact projects. The cast and I loaded into buses and spent the first two hours of the day on a ride into the mountains. We were told that we would be part of the Haymen fire restoration project. The Haymen fire which occurred over six years ago, was the largest wildfire ever to occur in the state of Colorado. As we entered the area of devastation, we drove through miles of burnt trees and charred ground cover. Finally, the busses struggled up a long dirt road, which led to the top of a 330 acre plot of land. The gentleman who owned the property had lost everything but the area around his house. The dirt drive was littered with charred powerboats and frames of antique cars. His agricultural equipment lay rusting on either side of our bus. I could tell that each piece of equipment had rusted over because the fire had burned the weatherproof paint from each piece of steel.
After receiving hard helmets, the cast was split up into three groups. Our day consisted of taking down trees and dragging them into erosion ditches. My portion of the cast planted 150 pine trees along a crispy hillside. The awesome thing about Up With People community impact projects is that we do more than improve the environment of one person. We worked side-by-side with state and community organizations to complete jobs that require a large work force. With the time we are given, Up With People works to improve situations of people that will eventually help themselves. Up With People CI Days are not a part of a mission trip! We do not plant a seed and pray for a better tomorrow. We impact communities and discuss matters with officials that deal with the issues daily.
I have never felt closer to my cast than I did today. It is awesome to see how the true personality of a person comes out when they are placed under pressure. As you can see from the pictures, we had fun with the hard helmet thing and even got creative with our photography at the end of the day.
Colleen and Jug took Ryan, Javi, and me out to dinner at Taco Loco for a bit of classic Denver dining. It is still sunny in Colorado!!!