Wed, 20 Apr 2016 0:00:00 GMT Marion MacDonald

Finding Yourself in the Middle of Nowhwere

Backpacking with Mirasol Clients

Mirasol’s adventure therapy program includes camping, hiking and also backpacking. Each trip is a logistical nightmare, but we always find that time spent in wilderness is a great way to restore inner peace while connecting with ourselves and with each other in ways that would never be possible within the walls of a residential treatment facility.

In mid-April, we spent three glorious day backpacking with clients in a steep-walled canyon where a permanent stream creates a lush riparian environment. In this extraordinarily wet El Niño year, we lucked out and slipped between unusual April storms. Days never got much warmer than 80 degrees, and the nights were just cool enough that we appreciated our big fluffy down sleeping bags.

Here we are entering the narrows, with the multi-colored cliffs in the distance. I call them the “granola cliffs”.

There’s no trail in the canyon, so we pick our way along the shore, looking for the best footing, and crossing the stream dozens of times.

The evenings were just cool enough than we appreciated a cozy campfire.

Executive Director Diane Ryan and PHP Clinical Director Katie Klein, pumping water by the stream. It’s great to backpack along a stream where we can filter all the water we need instead of carrying it in our packs. Each person needs at least three liters per day, and it’s easiest with a partner, so we spend a lot of time sitting quietly by the stream with our teammates.

Here’s a good look at the colorful volcanic cliffs that tower nearly 1000 feet above the canyon bottom.

The canyon is home to more than 200 species of birds, including this handsome Great Blue Heron.

Heading back to camp in the late afternoon light. Local sunset arrives much earlier in the canyon!

Arizona spring wildflowers are legendary, including this colorful prickly pear blossom.

Exploring one of the many side canyons. This one is blocked by a stack of large boulders. In the rainy season, a pour-off creates an impressive waterfall.

Itty Bitty Beetle on a Russian Thistle.

I’m already looking forward to our next trip!