Wilderness travel is a huge part of the experience at Turn-About Ranch and is an integral part of treatment. Sometimes a retreat into the landscape is all it takes to overcome a strong emotion like anger or sadness. Sometimes healing is about simply getting away from the everyday buzz and connectedness of daily life.
Luckily, our program operates within the 2.3 million acre Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument, a perfect place for wilderness therapy.
Here are five amazing places our teens may visit during their stay at Turn-About Ranch.
Covered Wagon Arch
Just a mile or so from Cedar Wash road, students walk a dry river bed to an Arch and a cave, where even on the hottest summer days, the shade provides a remedy to the heat.
Carved over millennia, Spooky Gulch is a slot canyon that becomes so narrow that students must shimmy sideways to get through. It is also so tall that it can be dark in the canyon, even in the noon sun. Hence the name Spooky.
Just a mile from Spooky, Peekaboo is another fun slot canyon. The path requires a bit of minor climbing, making teamwork necessary to get through. If rain has scoured the area recently, students may even have to get a little muddy!
Phipps Wash and Phipps Arch
Phipps Canyon is an 8 mile trail to the Escalante river where teens hike down sandstone similar to the famous “Wave” of Arizona’s Paria Canyon/Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness. After treading through sandy dry river beds, the trail meets the greenery of Cottonwoods and snake grass, where a spring starts to form. The towering Phipps Arch is the highlight of the trip, an ideal spot for a shady lunch break.
Students can walk where dinosaurs walked, observing fossilized footsteps from millions of years ago. Despite a dinosaur track being such a rare formation, the Escalante Grand-Staircase National Monument is lucky to have over 800 visible tracks.
All of these places can stay in one’s memory forever. The silence of the desert embeds itself in the soul like nothing else. Turn-About Ranch’s program director Myron Carter recalls a moment of such silence with a student while gathering cattle on one of the most soundless and pristine wildernesses of the region, Fifty Mile Mountain. The student, upon hearing nothing in the landscape, dropped everything he was doing and stood absolutely still. He said, “I don’t think I’ve heard any place so quiet.”
It’s this silence that everyone ought to hear in their life, a silence that precedes self-evaluation and self-improvement. It’s the quiet that tends to force a person to hear his or her own thoughts and confront what’s there – both the good and the bad.
What are some of your experiences in these places?
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