The Goannas worked well hiking, building skills, and camp chores throughout the week. Christmas eve filled the students with anticipation of what the holidays would be like in the west desert. We were blessed with a White Christmas Holiday snow as everyone enjoyed some snow angel making fun. On Christmas day the students received gift baskets filled with a large Hershey chocolate bar, hot cocoa, apple cider, cheese and meat sticks and a new scarf. A bin of food was shared among the students including honey ham, rolls, and stuffing. While the Goannas were content with the food, their spirits were uplifted receiving letters, cards, and pictures from their families. The letters brought them joy because they could feel the love from their family through them. Christmas afternoon was spent playing games–a new one was introduced to the group called “two ball”. Over the weekend, winds picked up and brought more snow. Together the Goannas helped to maintain a fire and ate toasty warm meals.
This week the Pindaris were energized with creating cheer and community with the Christmas Holiday arriving. Christmas Eve was filled with singing holiday songs and enjoying telling stories of past holidays. Holiday festivities included dressing up stockings, singing Christmas songs, and a tasty Christmas feast of ham, stuffing, cider, bread, and yams. In addition to hiking to the Christmas campsite, the group got the opportunity to go on a day hike to an abandoned ranch nearby to give a fellow Pindari his trail name Enduring Canyon and to rest in the wintery wonderland.
This week was a week full of anticipation and excitement for the Uluru group. Towards the beginning of the week, the group said goodbye to a few of their most experienced members before hiking to their snowbound Christmas location between the Red Pine and Indian Peak Mountains. Christmas started off more relaxed than most Christmas mornings. The group slept in and after a warm breakfast around a campfire they received Christmas gift bags. The group members were excited to pull out goodies such as summer sausage, crackers, chocolate bars, scarves, cider and hot chocolate. The staff member then beckoned the group over to a large black bin in which they found a glazed ham, dinner rolls, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin, banana cream, and coconut cream pies. There was so much Christmas food, that it took hours to eat it all! Needless to say, the group had a wonderful Christmas. This week also brought snow and cold which the group weathered in heated canvas shelters, around the campfire.
We explored the wonderful world of Southern Utah (St. George). We spent our first night getting to know our new group and exploring all of our journeys so far here at Outback. We made our way down to St. George where we were greeted by rare desert rain which lasted for most of the day. The Peak Crew made the most of the weather and went on a rad day hike through Snow Canyon. We eventually got a break in the weather and made our way to Pioneer Park to do some rappelling.
On Christmas day, the group wanted to make the most of our holiday as we headed out to do our favorite peak activity: climbing. We set up four routes all varying degrees of difficulty. It was really impressive how everyone made it to the top of at least one climb. That night staff cooked up burgers and stuffing while the students played hacky sack (a favorite game throughout the week). The group also enjoyed some cake and pie while discussing family traditions at gathering. Our final days of peak were spent exploring lava tube caves and in the field during a winter squall. This week was really cool to see the students come together from different groups and challenged themselves with each activity we presented to them.