Blog

My Expedition Life Path…by D.C.

"Learning to become patient is the hardest thing for me to deal with. I feel I'm becoming more aware of my emotions each day. This is the first time I feel like I'm not judging myself. My Expedition Instructors and fellow students are supporting me unconditionally on all levels.

I started building this balsa airplane over 3 weeks ago. I work on it in between expeditions and have spent over 8 hours just sanding it. This seems like an excellent way to practice being patient! I also like learning about airplane construction, flight, and wind patterns. I have another plane to build which is a step up from this one. Stay tuned for more flight information!

I'm getting back into shape by rock climbing, canyoneering, backpacking and hiking. I don't feel distracted and irritable. I'm building confidence by engaging in each day's challenges. Being at ET has allowed me to start to evolve and really create who I want to become. I'm also sober and that is amazing".

We Want You On Our Next Expedition! Climbing Tales & Fish Stories

This is an opportune time to meet super Chimney Climber Gabe. This is his first climbing expedition ever, and a fun fact about him is that his smile beams both day and night.

This lovely young lady from PA, you'll hear say "on belay", she's a fearless strong leader who could do without skeeters yet loves to rock climb during months April and May!
This is our dear friend B-rax. Attempted a 5.11a with no hesitation and nailed it.
Sir Peter gained real momentum then started hesitatin', he really just tried some escapin', he froze on the wall, then started to stall, till Ben said let go of your fixatin'. He took a quick rest and gave it his best then launched to the top with no reservation. Word.
Smiling 24/7
Our Climbing Guru Extraordinaire. He likes fruits and veggies.
Coffee cake,too.
Yes he is so very extraordinary as is his Espresso.
D.C. is all about meeting the challenge & he is a major support to his team. He likes to cook and he loves to climb, not necessarily at the same time. He likes his potatoes without onions!
D.C. is all over it! Internal Motivation.
N.G. is a natural on the wall. Yes, he is flying. Excellent.

Beth made a conscious decision to be present, and she let go of all attachment to fear. Beth never rock climbed before today.

Beth likes to climb in her BAT COAT!

Aaron is a fluid and graceful climber.

Aaron is also a gentleman and a scholar.

Rock climbing, canyoneering, cultural exploration, service, see the vast beauty of the southwest, learn wilderness first aid, have fun, play games, engage in group discussions, become self-aware. Get out of your head and into your life at Expedition Therapy. Meet the E.T. Challenge Today.

My Expedition Toward Autonomy…by T.D.

The time that I have spent at Expedition Therapy has been the most enlightening experience of my life. While I am looking forward to my next step, I am really sad to leave E.T. I am sad to say goodbye to my Expedition Therapy Team as they have been there for me literally every day and night, caring for me more than I could have ever imagined. They have taught me so much and challenged my emotional growth in ways that I never thought possible.

I don't think that I could ever thank them enough. I wish to share one last bit of insight with my blog followers and it goes something like this. "It's okay to say how you feel, practice letting go of what's outside your control, always say what you mean and mean what you say, and lastly, you can ask for what you need. Oh, and remember not to put 4 sticks of butter in the fettuccine. Thanks for reading my blog. I'll be staying in touch, Expedition Therapy!"

Dear Expedition Therapy: Canyoneering With My Brother

Dear Expedition Therapy,
 
I just wanted to say thank you for inviting me to join my brother on a 4-day Canyoneering Expedition. I really enjoyed the entire experience and felt like I got a lot out of it, both experientially and technically. The Expedition Therapy Instructor Team and students are all exceptional people with strong character and goals. 
I now feel closer to my little brother than I have since we were small children. I can never thank you enough for teaching him coping skills, and how to deal more effectively with struggles he has with addiction and accountability. Also, thank you for helping him to reconnect with the strong, confident, and committed man that he had been before. 
 
Much love and thanks,
 C.G.

Walking Along The Path Of The Ancients…

Our cultural exploration week in the back country proved to be an amazing experience. We felt like we were walking in the footsteps of Native Americans and also virtually travelled back to prehistoric times. We were told that the interpretations are just recommended meanings and symbols are descriptors. Panels are still being studied by teams of archaeologists.

Rock art is often found near or next to ruins. The art is sometimes coated with a desert type varnish made of iron and manganese. A pioneer scientist from ASU, Ronald I. Dorn, has created various technologies to determine the dates of these rock art sites.

We hiked nineteen miles in open meadows with twists and turns that eventually led to tall canyons walls covered with large anthropomorphic figures. Some resembled Shamans. There were amphitheaters and sheltered coves where the ancients created remote cliff dwellings for their families to live as they travelled across the rugged, windswept desert.

Petroglyphs tell stories of those who have come before us. These are some of the largest, most well preserved rock art panels containing pictographs and petroglyphs. Many panels contain mountain sheep, goats, figures, handprints, birds, and other abstract images appear.

Circles were revealed all along the way and represent the Sun. A circle that was filled in represents the Moon. Filled in dots are symbols of eyes. Shields and arrows are also depicted.

Often, directions were left, notes, and symbols left for those who have yet to travel these lands. A symbol of one figure atop another represents Generations of the same tribe. Figures standing next to one another are suggestive of individual who are in the same family. Fertility symbols also appear. Coyotes, dogs, and wolves are also shown in abundance.

To be continued….

Rock Climbing Expedition: An Inconceivable Spark…by Nick G.

This was my first climb ever and I felt like my personal power was beginning to emerge. The ultimate test of a persons inner power is being open to learning how to rock climb. Initially, I felt over confident. Climbing up toward the crux, my confidence was shattered and I was unable to get past the 10 foot crack in front of me. I dangled on the rope… exasperated!

Then, I felt like my personal power was beginning to emerge. It wasn't until an inconceivable spark was I able to make the impossible possible. Where my spark came from… I have no idea. I trust it and being in the moment gives me an opportunity to focus and be present. I think I got connected to my heart, heart being a combination of wills.

The Expedition Team is singing me the "Rocky" theme song!

I think that life has many things in common with my climb. For example, when a person's heart is into something completely, then so much more can be accomplished. I am thinking of  the quote, "each of us can achieve the impossible in our lives. Dream big and make those dreams come true." This quote, by Bill Strickland, has a passionate message for us to engage  in being fully awake so we can lead extraordinary lives, and create a legacy.

"I must say that my climbing experience is so worth the exhaustion and extreme effort I've invested into this week's Expedition. I feel that by giving all of what I have inside of myself…  emotionally, mentally and physically, and focused this energy toward something I believe in is akin to experiencing what I am truly capable of in my life".

T.D. here…. "I want to tell you that, I LOVE ROCK CLIMBING!" Now, I want to share my thoughts about trust. Trust is climbing and climbing is trust. I have to trust the rope, the person who is belaying me, trust the equipment, and myself. It's also about not getting attached to one route or another. The possibilities on the rock wall are limitless. The more I practice, the more adept I become. I feel open to the creative possibilities that exist for me. 

T.D. feels right at home on the wall. He went up and down faster than an elevator. Teaching what he's learned is a powerful strength of his. T.D. is always available to support whomever needs guidance. Before T.D. arrived at Expedition Therapy, he taught climbing at an indoor gym. He will tell you he has a new passion for climbing outside in the beauty of nature.

Talk about exuberance, D.C. had just joined Expedition Therapy and wasted no time getting involved, put on his climbing shoes, a sit harness and helmet then began to make his way up the wall. He had previous experience climbing and was open to learning more. T.D. provided support and the technical skills required for a very successful climb.

D… You can do it!

Our fearless leader A.W. is also a climber who is engaged in the Climbing Expedition. We are all in awe of his skill level as a guide, strategist, teacher, and role model. We all appreciate A.W.'s tireless efforts and thank him a million times a day for everything he does to support each one of us who have made a commitment to engage in Expedition Therapy's intensive, therapeutic immersion experience.

"Meet the Challenge"

Go A!

Stay tuned for our next therapeutic Expedition….

The Father & Son Reunion…

Family Systems focus…
I have just spent a full two days on an expedition with my son as part of the Expedition Therapy experience.I had not seen him or spoken to him in the nine weeks since my wife and I had sent him to Expedition Therapy for treatment.

At that point in time, my relationship with my son had deteriorated to nothing more than small talk about the weather. He had fallen into a pattern of substance abuse, denials and outright lies. The unbearable level of stress created within the family by his toxic behavior had driven us to the point where either he had to get treatment, or he was going to be put out on the street. The son I sent to Expedition Therapy nine weeks earlier was extremely bitter and wanted nothing to do with me.
This was to be a surprise visit. I was reassured by the Expedition Therapy Treatment Team that our travels would take us to several of Southern Utah's most sought after natural treasures. As I drove out to the Expedition meeting site with Primary Therapist Beth Fogel, I was both nervous and hopeful about what might happen. As soon as my son realized that I was there, he immediately ran over, greeting me with a big smile and a hug. It was if I had stepped back in time to four years earlier, before his terrible downward spiral started.

For the next two days we talked…a lot. My son confessed that his resentment towards me and the other family members had been driven by his pattern of avoiding the responsibilities of his life. He talked about – and demonstrated – a sense of self-awareness I had never before seen in him. He took full accountability for his actions (again a first for him), and spoke about wanting the relationship with me that I had been hoping for.

I was deeply moved by our conversations. I realized that these two days were quite possibly the best two days of my life; it seemed like we had been given a unique opportunity for a "do over".
I have never felt closer to my son than I do right now. This was absolutely unthinkable to me just a few days ago. I am under no illusions about the likelihood of some additional bumps in the road ahead, but I am much more optimistic about my son’s future than I have been in many years. As we hiked the North Rim, I felt a sense of calm inside me.Taking in the immense beauty and majesty of the canyon, I felt at peace within myself knowing my son was feeling positive about his progress, too.

When I initially placed my son at Expedition Therapy, I viewed it as a last resort after many other treatment failures. After seeing the difference Expedition Therapy has made in his life, I am now very hopeful for my son’s future and the future of his relationships with the entire family.

THE BEAUTY THAT SURROUNDS US

Our Fearless Leader Naime C. rocks and her climbing resume is quite impressive!
She is a creative, intelligent, super organized, and a very compassionate leader.

It's hard to imagine how those who have lived here before us could manage to survive these windswept, harsh lands. Along the way, we did see a pronghorn sheep, deer, and a wide variety of birds…and made a friends with a Stellar Pinyon Jay, rich with cobalt blue color.  During our culture and  history discussion, we learned that as early as 1776, the Escalante Dominiquez expedition observed Paiutes gardening and cultivating corn and other food crops.

A Mule Deer makes a quick airborne appearance!
We always make time for technical and hard skills focus such as fire making, learning knots for climbing and canyoneering, as well as numerous safety talks. A huge, welcome me to  Senior Expedition Specialist Mike K. who as extensive wilderness therapy and professional guiding experience. Mike has climbed Mt.Kilimanjaro 5 times! 

To be continued…

Expedition Tenacity: Letting Go Of Unfinished Business

The Expedition ahead is somewhat known to us as it's a strenuous hike down and up steep canyons of sandstone and varnished rock. The unfinished Expedition weighs heavily on our minds. When we attempted to reach the bridge just six days ago, we were limited by time constraints and low morale. The thought of doing something short of completion feels familiar… like a huge letdown that also reminds us of so many times we haven't succeeded. Before  coming here, the automatic response was always the same… it's easier to just play video games, use, smoke, and escape.

During our evening discussion about the value of following through, the suggestion was made to all of us that we attempt the same Expedition to completion. The thought of getting back on the thirteen mile trail that wanders through wind chiseled canyons and an endless twists and slow turns skirting Powell had quite the effect on us. Everyone had   extremely different responses and feelings around the idea. Everything from, "no way am I going to do that again," to "you're joking, right?" to "I say, let's go and nail it!" Ah, N.G., a very positive leader rallied the Expedition Team! "Let's pack up and leave tomorrow afternoon!"  And that's exactly what the Team did.

We called upon our inner strength, tenacity and previous weeks training and experience  We shaved a day and a half off of our previous attempt and the gnarly hiking over huge rocks down a steep slope to Cliff Canyon appears difficulty yet not impossible. We noticed the cacti, tall yuccas lining both sides of the steep sloping trail. Then….The Bridge, Rainbow Bridge, was now in sight. This is the largest natural bridge in the world.

Cool, cool! We took in the awe inspiring site made of weathered sandstone, meditated upon our efforts, and took lots of photographs here. We reached our goal and felt accomplished. Getting unattached…

Letting go of our collective negative thoughts and beliefs about the previous Expedition was essential in giving us a new opportunity to focus on what we wanted to accomplish… in the now.

We chased the sun down after a delicious dinner of linguine marinara. This was a relaxing time to reflect upon our accomplishments and wait for the night sky to appear with all of its amazing constellations, galaxies, roving satellites, and shooting stars.

To be continued…

Internal Motivation, Carrots & Deception: The Sequel

We spent focused time and sharing as a Group discussing the concept of motivation. We each provided examples of what motivates us with the intention of learning the difference between internal and external motivation. Internal motivation requires each of us to make adjustments in our thoughts and behavior so that we can shift away from old patterns. We all agreed that we are predominately externally motivated. Examples put out there were bargaining with our parents to get something in exchange for doing what they asked so we could get our gaming equipment back, get our car keys, and stay out later. So we did things such as promising to clean our rooms, tried quitting cigarettes, and made it look like we were trying to improve our grades. That whole dishonesty thing we deny 24/7.

Many times we didn't even follow through. Some people refer to external motivation like having a "carrot dangled out in front of you." We all agreed that we only did what others asked because we wanted the rewards so we could get our stuff back and return to  business as usual. We really didn't learn anything except how to manipulate to get more, more, and extra more of everything that we wanted.

As we explored the concept of internal motivation, we felt anxious while delving deeper. Our Expedition Instructors asked us, "where each of us stood in relationship to our willingness to commit to developing internal motivation"? This is not something we can do in an hour. Don't they realize we do not want to change nor do we have an endless amount of time. All of this blah, blah, motivation stuff seems so urgent! Then, we talked about the process…. the steps we can take to understanding and learn to be open to practicing these concepts. We can begin in the here and now with relationships, while on Expeditions, writing our families, and in our everyday lives.

We had ingredients to make pizza from scratch for dinner. We made two XL pizzas, one Veggie and another with Pepperoni. The chilly wind created a situation where the dough took hella longer to rise. Well worth the wait. They tasted really quite garlicky good. We had tea by the campfire and relaxed on the benches A.G. made for Expedition Camp this past week.

Relapse was a topic we were being asked to think about for this evening's Group. OUCH! Relapse is something we'd all rather avoid discussing altogether. To be continued….

The Crevice Is The Portal To The Alcove And The Bridge

Day 4: We woke up and had breakfast burritos filled with eggs, hash browns, bacon, cheese, bell peppers and onions. This was our day to take time to explore the history and geology of the canyons within Hole-in-the-Rock. We were all looking forward to using our technical skill sets.

We hiked to a crevice that allows you to get into the canyon. We had to lower our packs because they would not fit through the narrow space. We continued through to the gulch and it was getting dark. The water was up to our knees, and we continued until we reached an amazing alcove filled with soft velvety sand. We also spotted a table and chairs made out of rocks! We made aromatic curry rice torts for dinner. The alcove was so protected that we didn’t need to set up our tents. We just got into our sleeping bags and went to sleep under the Utah night sky, full to bursting with stars like Polaris and Cassiopeia, and constellations such as Orion, Perseus, Auriga, Taurus, and Andromeda…all of which we have been learning about back at Expedition camp.

Day 5: After we woke up, we replenished our water by boiling several pots and filling up our bottles. We then had granola and oats for breakfast. Everyone has their own creative spin on this delectable classic. Some of us add cranberry flavored raisins or peanut butter. I saw Beth add hot chocolate mix into hers and while the cocoa made everything in her cup turn brown, I got a whiff of the chocolaty concoction. I think I’ll try that blend soon, for sure! We continued our hike through the gulch. In the daylight we could see how absolutely amazing this canyon actually is. We arrived at our destination, a natural arch a hundred feet in the air. Being up that high, we could see four bends in the winding river below, with huge cliff faces rising up 500 feet. We started to hike back out of the canyon, taking an amazing trail that went about 300 feet up the side of the cliff.

Once we got out of the canyon, we hiked up the mile-long sand dune that leads back to the crevice that we had entered through. We stopped for lunch and had peanut butter and jelly torts. After lunch, we continued up the hill to the crevice. We hoisted all the packs up and over the crevice, then we hiked another mile or two up the hill. We set up our expedition camp and later had Mediterranean pasta primavera for dinner. We discussed the day’s events and right before we went to sleep, I saw a shooting star! It was an exhilarating experience because it was only the second one I had ever seen.

Day 6: We woke up, broke down our camp, and had bagels and cream cheese for brunch. We hopped into the truck for the long drive back to base camp. When we got back, we had Asian noodles with spicy pineapple for dinner, set up our tents, and went to sleep. I sleep so well at Expedition Therapy, and I think it’s because I have over fifty days of sobriety. Woo hoo!