Wilderness Weekly 12.25.22

Photo Credit: Trevor Allen, CMHC - Primary Therapis @ outBACK


This week started out with cold temperatures but lots of sun to keep us warm during the day. We began with changes as we had a goodbye ceremony for a well-loved member and welcomed in a few new ones. Our first hike of the backcountry expedition week led us up in elevation, which was challenging for our bodies but brought us closer to willow trees which are seldom found in the field. The following day we took a day hike up to Lee Creek to harvest willow for H-frames for some of the members. The day was cold, but the sun was bright which kept energies high for the harvest. That evening, we held a gathering about the gifts that willow provides for us and our responsibilities we owe to willow for what it provides. We then talked about the gifts that we hold in ourselves and see in each other, and how those gifts can impact our communities. The members had lots of support and encouragement for each other, and this conversation set the tone for an emotionally safe community within the Goannas. The final hike of the week was long and arduous, but we all pushed through and were able to witness the sunset glow over the snowy mountains. During a rest day, the Goannas were filled with lots of motivation for skills, including working on H-frames, finalizing our busting sets, and making time for personal writing and reading time. Our final morning together included a ceremony to honor a student with the peace-walker token and the group gifted one of the guides with their trail name. The peace-walker demonstrates someone who is a leader for peace and gentle communication. They help guide conflict and support others in their personal journeys. This token was very well-deserved, and we are hopeful that the emotionally supportive and authentic energy in the Goannas is here to stay! 


The Kangaroos got several new members this week, filling the week with mentorship, new recipes, and learning/teaching various skills of “desert living”.. Our week together came with lots of time for sunset hikes, skills, and nearly every student made a new spoon. The group embarked on hikes surrounded by yellow and orange sunsets behind snow-white mountains throughout our backcountry expedition. On one hike, we had a gathering where we talked about freedom; when we feel most free, what freedoms can be earned and taken away, and what types of freedom we can never lose. During the days we stayed in camp, we had snowball fights and played fun games. One of the guides brought his dog, a black lab named Liko, and the group agreed that Liko was as big as a bear! Every student was ecstatic to have Liko around and were even comforted by the snores of his slumbers. As the week wrapped up, students and guides were sad to say goodbyes but looking forward to the next week. 

Ulurus - Adventure Expedition:

The group was extremely excited to be going on their adventure expedition. The group prepped for their week and was off in high spirits for the time ahead. Once the group made it to their campsite, we had a great gathering on the three T’s; Tact, tone, and timing. We held a great discussion on how the three T’s affect the way people perceive our intentions while communicating.  

Our climbing was a hit with all the students and as they were waiting their turn, they were busy building cairns and exploring. Students learned all about belaying and proper climbing safety procedures in our ground school. The students were even able to put these skills to the test by belaying for each other. This was a great trust exercise for students, as many who initially had doubts were able to put faith in each other. We also had the opportunity for an early rise to explore more of Southern Utah and hiking through giant rock formations. The students loved it and were climbing all over and having a blast with each other. As our adventure expedition ended, we made our way back to our backcountry field area. On the way, the group practiced knots, talked all about the highlights of the trip, and listened to a great audiobook. The students had so many great moments and lots of memories were made. 

Ulurus - Backcountry Expedition:

Our group had an easygoing yet meaningful week. The students approached the week with the same energy level and made great connections with one another. This week together also brought us beautiful opportunities for mentorship through busting, camp setup, and creative recipes.  

The students also had some fun with their creativity and ingenuity. They used camp items to create an in-field gym, complete with a bench press and barbells. During one of the many sunny and warm days this week, the group was able to head out for a gorgeous day hike to soak up some vitamin D and find components for their busting sets. One of the students was also able to make great progress on his first camp assignments, seeking insights and guidance from the group and the guides.  

The group faced some challenges during one of our hikes. Through it all, however, they were able to gain insights on time management and the benefits of planning ahead. Despite the challenges, they pushed forward and were able to overcome the circumstances and make it to their next campsite.  

Overall, the week was relaxed and provided some great learning opportunities for each student.

Read Past "Wilderness Weekly" Posts

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