8000 AQI

Author | Felipe B.

Editor | Rex S.

“Yo, Felipe, wake up man,” Caleb tells me as I am half asleep.

I check my phone and the air quality is 280 AQI. I would’ve said some clever dialogue here, but I don’t want to breathe in the equivalent of 200 cigarettes. I quickly remembered that we’re going hiking, so I put on my raincoat (just in case it rains) and my shorts, since it’s summer, obviously, and promptly congregated with the rest of the IU Biochem SSPers. 

“Masks! Masks!” Emma, our T.A., shouts as she hands out masks for all the participants.

Before I knew it, everyone was masked up and ready to go. We sat in the bus and immediately, everyone was asleep. Seems like buses are a prime sleeping place for SSPers, especially the ones in Biochem, but I’ve decided to spare them by not including any sleeping pics. 

Figure 1: SSPer, Hemkesh, pointing at the smog early in the morning.
Figure 2: Emma and Elaina handing out masks.            
Figure 3: Participants, Caleb, Nicholas, and Daniel, making a heart for whoever is reading this (They were so hyped to go a hiking).

And just like that, we were at Turkey Run State Park, ready to hike through a rugged Indiana forest. My friends, Hemkesh, Raul, Dom, Kenny, and Caleb, all accompanied me during my treacherous hike, jumping over streams and climbing huge mountains (we jumped over a puddle and didn’t even climb any rocks). Oops, don’t forget Nikhil, he also went with us. Sorry Nikhil. The ravines were beautiful and the wildlife was magnificent. Looking up towards the canyons made me feel like I was in a movie. I had no idea that Indiana had such beautiful rock formations. But, like any biologist, my favorite part was seeing the wildlife and while there weren’t that many animals, the congregation of insects scratched my itch. Get it? ‘Cause insects bite you and make you all itchy?

Figure 4-7: Our awesome trails and the beautiful Indiana nature. Please note TA Jackson in the green shirt in figure 4.

After our perilous journey, Mr. Shorey and Dr. H’s hot dogs were there to comfort us. My friends and I sat on a huge wooden table with our Purdue counterparts and discussed highly intellectual topics such as the best way to spiral a football or how to throw a frisbee. Afterwards, I hung out with Ephraim, a Purdue student. I originally met him online, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover that he was actually not some 45-year-old man from Kyrgyzstan but a 17-year-old student from San Antonio. We got to talking and meeting him in person was so much better than online. Who would’ve guessed? Before I knew it, all my Biochem friends were playing 8-on-8 basketball. While it was surely crowded, playing with everyone really made me realize how close we’ve become as a group. Finally it was time to say goodbye to our new friends and soon we were on our way back to Bloomington. This day will certainly go down in the books as one of my favorites and I hope we get to see our Purdue friends again. 

Figure 8: Ephraim and I at the campsite. He was actually really cool. If you’re reading this, it was great to meet you man!