Wilderness Weekly 8.27.21

Photo Credit: Trevor Allen, Primary Therapist


This week the group weathered a fantastic thunderstorm. While a few students got wet, their spirits were brightened by a warm fire. They had the opportunity to cook over a fire and enjoy sweet ash cakes. They worked well together to pack up camp and easily completed the intended hikes planned for the expedition portion of our week. The competition was fierce in a hacky sack game played throughout the week. The group also welcomed a new student who became a quick friend. They ended the week at a sandy sight perfect for resting and working on their skills.


This week’s outBACK Adventure for the Cassowarries challenged them to find joy and peace in literal and figurative storms. They had the opportunity to experience firsthand the wonders of mother nature in one night – from a lightning storm in the distance that illuminated the night sky, to pea sized hail that turned our campsite into a bit of a winter wonderland, to finally a high volume of rainfall that resulted in some wet gear that had us ensuring the necessary  warmth to dry us out. As was said, this was the Cassowarries opportunity to find light in the darkness, and laughter in times of hardship. At an impressive rate and with intentional actions, the Cassowarries banded together to bring to being one of the most intricate and well designed multi-tarped main shelters with walls and a moat that housed a roaring campfire, a clothesline to dry wet gear, a wood burning pile, much laughter, many stories, and the Cassowarries. It did not take long for warmth to be found, and then it was time to let the feast begin! The gastronomical creativity of the Cassowarries expanded in two-fold with the presence of a real campfire. Needless to say, the cooks were in the kitchen. They made garlic bread, veggie meatballs, roasted jalapenos, apple turnovers, and more. The Cassowarries teamed together to bring to life their very own “little house on the prairie.”

Once the storm had passed and all gear and people were warm and dry, the Cassowarries were off on another adventure. Over the lush green hilltops and down the rocky washes riddled with obsidian, one of the Cassowarries cross-country day hikes found themselves standing on a hilltop in awe of the valley below. Now only was it a picture perfect view of both mountains near and far, but it was home to a herd of mighty and steadfast desert cows. Joy in the Cassowarries was overflowing as all started to call out to these majestic creatures in their native tongue, the moo. The Cassowarries made their way down into the valley and found a small hill near the cows to observe them in all their glory, preparing for an individual and group moo-off with the cows. One by one they found within them their inner cow, took a deep breath, and then some with force and others with a subtle delicacy, they let out a moo. When their inner cow was fully released, they listened to it echo throughout the valley and then waited in silence. They were waiting for the cows to respond. They waited, and waited, and waited, until all of a sudden cheers erupted from the Cassowarries as they heard the cows’ response.

This week’s storms were followed by cooler temperatures that permitted the transition from night hiking to day hiking. This enabled the Cassowarries to fully enjoy the gorgeous views surrounding them, restful sleeps, and establishing new healthy habits that led to fantastic therapeutic conversations– especially around evening mealtime.

Every weekly journey has its struggles; however, the Cassowarries overcame with triumph by working together and amongst one another. Concluding this week’s hiking adventures by arriving at their therapy site, the Cassowarries were eager to dive into their skills. Along their hikes, they harvested willow, and explored and challenged themselves mentally and physically. It was time to put their minds at ease with meditation through hands-on-skills– making moccasins, wood carvings, busting sets, and more.

The Cassowarries explored this week’s theme of vision by creating their very own dream catchers, manifesting a healthy and positive future through developing individual vision boards, and through intentional discussions of where they see themselves at key milestones in the near future.

The Cassowarries truly had a very positive, encouraging, uplifting, and therapeutic week in the west desert. Amongst the many literary and figurative storms, the Cassowarries found light and joy.  They continued to share their life stories, exchanged some of the best dad jokes around – they were utterly moo-ving, – and laughed through the evenings as their imagination ran wild during group gatherings and games of werewolf.

With the conclusion of each day, the Cassowarries turned in their boots, laid down their heads, and were wisped off into a deep slumber by the calming and harmonic lullabies of fellow Cassowarries.


The Keets had a trying week with the onset of challenging desert weather. The week taught a valuable lesson in “proper prior planning”, and offered a learning opportunity as to how to prepare for inclement weather by assembling a proper shelter, main tarp, and how to keep our things dry. Although many of the Keets felt the impacts of the change of seasons, they were able to weather the storms and power through the week with perseverance. The Keets crushed it on a hike they completed during the expedition portion of our week, and they also did an incredible job during busting hour. The week also offered ample time to complete ngarnas and other therapeutic assignments. Some of the Keets were able to begin working on trail skills such as pos bags and quivers and we also held space for some final goodbyes this week as some of the members of the group transitioned out of their journey at outBACK. Although this week presented several challenging moments, the Keets were able to push through and spent lots of time laughing and having fun throughout it all.


The Brumbies had an adventurous week! At the beginning of the week the Brumbies rallied together to support one another during an intense rain storm. The Brumbies held a heartfelt goodbye gathering for a couple of their members who were moving onto the next phase of their journey beyond outBACK.  Each group member was able to offer their best wishes to the departing Brumbies while also reflecting on the positive impact the members had on the group during their stay. The Brumbies were able to observe various types of wildlife throughout the week including lizards, pronghorns, toads, jack-rabbits, and falcons as they traversed the desert. The Brumbies had the opportunity to experience a wonderful day hike that gave way to being able to watch the sunset from the top of a mountain! Throughout the week, the Brumbies supported one another and practiced using positive communication strategies in a group dynamic. The Brumbies were able to recognize the therapeutic value of being out on expeditions and how being in the wilderness has a positive impact on mental health.


Our first night in the desert began with a thunderstorm. We expected it to be a quick desert storm per usual yet it ended up lasting over the course of two days. With that being said, the group weathered the storm well and remained in high spirits throughout it all. 

The Ulurus held a morning meditation with the focus of mindfulness and what that meant for each of them. The students were truly engaged in the discussion that followed and felt that the activity was something that could help them moving forward. The exercise involved counting their thoughts using rocks, sticks, and anything they could find in nature. All of which helped them in acknowledging their thoughts to slow themselves down.

We also had a gathering on accountability. Every single member of the group was involved in the discussion and it was very productive. They were able to recognize things they can change and every member actively contributed to the discussion.

Even though we experienced some hiccups along the way, the group stayed present and worked through it as a team.  Overall, it was a great week with beautiful hikes for the Ulurus!

Peak week started off with a rain storm that fell across the deserts of Utah. Everyone enjoyed watching the lightning from afar and playing in the rain. As most Peak Week beginnings, each student took time to reflect on their intentions and goals of their peak experience and we headed south towards Cedar City. It was emphasised to the crew to focus on themselves this week and with the support from the adventure specialists, students were reminded of their set goals and intentions along the way. 

As the rain continued, we switched gears and changed our plans. We made our way further south to St. George where it was sunny to begin our Peak Week adventures! The group hiked to the top of a canyon for sunset and had a deep gathering on their visions for the future. The following day we began our rock climbing progression at Shotgun Alley where we held ground school and the peak week crew learned how to climb and belay each other safely. The students learned of the importance of trust one another as well as acknowledging and embodying self confidence.

Everyone climbed at least once and made it to the top successfully. The evening gathering centered around  their climbing experience and how the various thoughts, feelings, and narratives of themselves could reflect into life outside of outBACK.

From our first day of our climbing progressions, we ventured on a hike to see some dinosaur tracks. This hike led us into some unexpected adventures as we found ourselves being off trail and having to bushwack our way through some overgrowth. Many said this was their favorite part given how they enjoyed having to findi their way– make their own path. Eventually, we made it to the dinosaur tracks and had an amazing feedback gathering there. There was a specific campsite at which we stayed that had a little steam running through it. A couple of our students got creative and made their own fishing poles. 

On our second day of our climbing progression, the students on peak week were able to challenge themselves and we ended the day by making our way up north to the lava tubes. We explored the lava rocks and participated in our ceremonial ending of what the students lovingly state as “peak olympics”. Peak Olympics consisted of students being divided up into  groups to compete in four categories; whit, hand eye coordination, strength and reflexes. It was a fun filled event riddled with great excitement! After the games were completed, we walked into the lava tubes in a dark cave where we held our closing ceremony. We took time to honor every student and each student shared positive things about one another. It was a great ending to an exciting week at peak where everyone remained flexible and took on the challenges they were given.

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