February 11, 2014 Turning Winds Academic Institute Activities
Another successful outdoor-expedition, took place in the rugged mountains of Northwestern Montana in early January. Due to the unpredictable weather at this time of the year, we chose to host our base camp at the Upper Ford, Forest Service Cabin. Our group consisted of seven girls and two leaders. The accommodations were state of the art, considering where we were located and the time of the year. The cabin was very spacious and cozy which was heated by a gas fireplace. We also enjoyed the convenience of cooking our meals in a fully furnished kitchen. Almost too good to be true especially as snowstorms dumped over a foot of new snow during the period of time in which we were at the cabin.
The Outdoor expedition covered an area that spanned from the Purcell Mountain ranges located in Montana all the way to the Selkirk Mountains in Northern Idaho. Perhaps our most memorable excursion was that of visiting upper and lower falls of the West Fork of the Yaak River. The hike was about 2.5 miles into the upper falls where we enjoyed a hearty lunch surrounded by mother nature’s artwork. The ice sculptures that had been created from the waterfalls were magnificent as they possessed features of color and formation which almost seemed mesmerizing.
The evenings were spent cooking and reflecting on group and individual therapeutic assignments. One of the favorite reflection assignments given involved asking each participant the following question: “if this group were a bag of trail mix, what fruit, candy or nut would each person represent?” The responses were comical and serious as each young woman described each other. One of the girls used a pistachio as a metaphor for explaining the complexity of one of the members. A pistachio is protected by a hard outer shell which described how guarded this particular person was; however, once the shell is removed a delightful nut is found – sort of like a treasure. The girls bonded on this expedition as they developed a level of trust that did not exist prior to this trip.
Upon the departure, many hugs and verbal expressions of gratitude were given and received. Though sad to move beyond this experience, the girls were excited to discover that they would be spending the day in Sandpoint, Idaho dining out, bowling and watching a movie at the local theater. The Expedition was truly a success!