Course Code: CUY4-2441
Start Date: 7/6/24
End Date: 7/20/24
Experience the vast diversity of landscapes in southeastern Utah. Feel the exhilaration of rushing waves as you paddle through whitewater rapids in steep, red rock canyons. Camp along sandy shores and search for shooting stars. Spot ancient dwellings and rock art tucked within the canyon walls. Then trade your river shoes for hiking boots to traverse over high passes in the southern region of the Rocky Mountains. Starry skies and alpine lakes will be your classroom as your Instructors teach you to load a backpack, cook on a camp stove, and navigate the backcountry. By the end of your expedition, you and your crewmates will be the expedition leaders and you’ll work together to attempt to summit a high mountain peak. At the end of it all, you’ll emerge a confident and resilient leader with the tools to be your best self in the backcountry and at home.
La Sal Mountains, Utah
The La Sal Mountains rise dramatically out of the desert, towering 9,000’ above the surrounding canyonlands and Moab. The La Sals are known for their groves of aspen, rich amount of wildlife, high summits, and incredible views overlooking Canyonlands and Arches National Park and the Four Corners area. Hidden lakes dot the landscape. Peaks in the La Sals range from ten thousand to just under thirteen thousand feet and include the highest mountains in Southern Utah. The La Sal Mountains are within the ancestral lands of the Ute.
Photo: Dave Erbe |📍Ute lands
Desolation and Gray Canyons, Utah
Surrounded by the Tavaputs Plateau and bordered by the Uinta and Ouray Reservation on the east, the journey on the Green River begins in Desolation Canyon near Sand Wash. Throughout the canyon, there are spectacular rock formations, archaeological sites and abandoned ranches including McPherson Ranch, once frequented by Butch Cassidy's “Wild Bunch.” The tiered rock walls of Desolation give way to the earthy bluffs of Gray Canyon, creating a striking contrast that characterizes the next 25 miles of the journey.
On longer rafting courses you may continue your journey down the Green River through Labyrinth Canyon, where the river dives deep into the pink sandstone of the Navajo Formation which characterizes southeastern Utah and the Canyonlands area with narrow winding side canyons, orange Wingate cliffs, pinnacles and ledges. These regions are within the ancestral lands of the Ute and Diné Bikéyah nations.
Photo: Harmony McCoy |Ute and Diné Bikéyah lands
Utah's Canyon Country
The most spectacular aspects of the Utah landscape are the hidden treasures found within its vast canyon networks. The canyons are composed of a spell-binding labyrinth of towering walls, arches, and slot canyons just waiting to be explored. On course, these vibrant formations are a geological playground for scrambling and teamwork. The desert ecosystem is characterized by aromatic plants like sagebrush and juniper and birds soaring high above canyon walls. The days can be hot in the summertime, but it always cools down in the evenings. These regions are within the ancestral lands of the Ute, Pueblos, Southern Paiute, Diné, and Hopi nations.
What is a land acknowledgment?
At the Colorado Outward Bound School, we include land acknowledgments in our work as a formal way to recognize and respect the traditional territories and Indigenous Peoples as stewards of the land. It is important to understand and acknowledge the comprehensive past, present, and future of the places we travel and to seek to understand our role therein. To recognize the land is an expression of gratitude and appreciation we give to the Indigenous Peoples who have been living and working on the land from time immemorial. Read more about land acknowledgments at Outward Bound here.
Alpine Backpacking will develop a foundational outdoor skillset for students allowing comfortable living during course. Traveling mostly above treeline, students will carry everything they need - food, shelter, clothing and gear – allowing them to go deep into the wilderness where few people go. Backpacking provides a sense of freedom, allowing students to eat when hungry, set up camp when tired, and exercise complete control over what is accomplished each day. The simplicity of backpacking gives students the opportunity to focus both internally on their own thoughts, as well as externally to connect deeply with others as they talk, sing, play games and spend time together without distraction. With the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop, students are introduced to backpacking with lessons in basic travel and camping techniques. As this section progresses, students learn Leave No Trace techniques, map and compass navigation, camp craft, and obtain an understanding of the area’s human and natural history.
Photo: Dave Erbe |📍Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) lands
On the river, each day is spent learning to navigate various obstacles and how to anticipate the forces of the current from upstream. You and your companions will work to become a team, coordinating your spacing and paddle strokes. You will have an opportunity to be the captain of your crew and put to use what you’ve learned as you maneuver your raft through Class 2-4 rapids. Interspersed between the rapids are flat-water sections where there is a current, but no whitewater. At times, you will take advantage of this calm water to hone your skills and enjoy the view. Time in a raft is ideal for getting to know each other and forming boat pride, laughing your way downriver as you relax into river life. Afternoons can bring strong up-canyon winds, which create a challenge as you dig in to reach the camping destination. Rafting connects you to the river: the oasis of flora and fauna (including humans!) that rely on the river to survive in the desert. The soaring canyons complement the roar of whitewater, as well as the silences that can only be found in such remote beauty.
Photo: Curtis Huey |📍Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), Diné, and Pueblos lands
Guided Reflection and Transference
At Outward Bound we believe there is no learning without reflection. Throughout course, you will be prompted to reflect on what you’re experiencing on course, and what it means in the greater context of your life. Sometimes this is a journaling exercise, sometimes a group sharing experience, and sometimes a moment of solitude to sit and think. You spend focused time toward course progression end exploring how your new knowledge, skills and attributes can apply to your life after course.
Solo is a time when you’ll get the opportunity to spend time alone during course. With sufficient food and equipment, your Solo will be a chance to reflect on your course experience, journal, and connect with nature. Depending on your course length and environmental factors, Solo can range from 30 minutes to an overnight experience. You will not travel during this time and your Instructors may check on you occasionally. Your solo site will be close enough to your Instructors in case of emergency, but far enough removed to enjoy solitude. Many students are initially nervous about solo, but later recall it as one of the highlights of their course.
Service is a pillar of the Outward Bound experience. On each course, students learn to practice intentional service to themselves, to others and to the environment. This may look like practicing self-care or supporting a crewmate who is having a hard day. Participants also learn to Leave No Trace ethics, practicing service to the environment by preserving and respecting the fragile ecosystems they encounter. Students experience firsthand the social and emotional benefits of acts of service. They are encouraged to bring this ethic of care to their life back home.
Our expeditions help students grow into the best version of themselves. We use adventure in the outdoors to help students discover their strengths and build authentic connections with their peers. Compassion for oneself and others is foundational to the Outward Bound experience. As students develop outdoor skills, they also gain confidence and leadership tools that will last a lifetime. Course outcomes include:
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