Another Amazing Experience in Hells Canyon

An Amazing October Experience in Hells Canyon

We left for Hells Canyon on Sunday, October 14, 2012 with a group of seven boys which included Cameron, Joey, Aiden, Matt, Jacob, Joe and Ahmed.  The boys were eager and had some hesitation at the same time as they were about to embark upon a journey that would put them to the test physically and emotionally.  We stopped in Coeur D’ Alene, Idaho to refuel, eat a great dinner at Qdoba and fix the wiring on our TREC trailer as we had some lights that were not working correctly.  One of our students who’s intention is to pursue electrical engineering for his college focus, gladly took the challenge and repaired the damaged wiring as we all hung out in the parking lot of Auto Zone.

We did not arrive at Pittsburg’ Landing until about 11:30 pm Sunday night.  Upon arrival, we determined the campsites that we would occupy and began to set up tents as bad weather was upon us.  After setting up our tents and putting away our gear, we settled in for the night.  It seemed as soon as everyone got into their individual tents it began to rain.  The tone was beginning to set in as we all knew that on the morrow we would begin our expedition in Hells Canyon.

Monday morning, we awoke early and began to prepare for the day.  We had a motivational thought that morning on the power of maintaining a positive attitude when faced with adversity as we were trying to prepare these young men for the days’ itinerary which was to backpack approximately twelve miles from Granite Creek to McGaffee’s Cabin.  Once we were packed, we met a river guide near the boat ramp on the Snake River who would navigate us up the river approximately 30 miles and drop us off near Granite Creek where we would begin backpacking.  The boat that we loaded onto was a thirty foot aluminum boat with three boat motors that could provide more than 600 horse power.  The ride up the river going over the rapids was exhilarating to say the least.  The guys were grateful for the experience and within an hour we were dropped off above Granite Creek.

The Fall colors were in full effect as the scenery seemed almost surreal.  The hike for the first day seemed to last forever as we did not get into camp until about 5:00 pm.  We were exhausted, but stayed positive and looked forward to a much shorter day on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, as we were hiking along a stretch of trail, we heard rocks rolling down the hillside opposite to the river from us.  As we looked up, we were in awe to see a 250 lb. black bear traverse across the side of the nearby mountain.  Apparently, we had startled the bear!  We watched the bear for about five minutes until it made its’ way into a treed canyon with thick underbrush.  We were all surprised at how quickly the bear was able to move on such a steep sloping mountainside.  For those of you that thought that you could outrun a bear on a mountain side, think again. The hike was only seven miles, so time seemed to go by much faster.  Most of that day, we hiked with the sun upon us which was a warm change from the days prior as the weather was cold and rainy.

On Wednesday, the original leaders transitioned out with new leaders who would take them the remainder of the way back to Pittsburg’s Landing.  The group awoke early Wednesday morning to prepare for the most challenging hike of the trip as they would be backpacking approximately twelve miles with some good elevation gains.  The group hiked well despite the challenges of the hike and they were in good spirits upon arriving at Kirkwood (campground) around 5:00 pm.   The group ate dinner and talked about their hike on Thursday which was a six mile hike that would take them back to Pittsburg’s Landing.  After talking about the remaining itinerary, the boys presented a unique challenge to the leaders.  They proposed to hike out the remaining six miles that evening so that they could spend all day Thursday resting and relaxing.  The leaders agreed it would be a safe and rewarding experience for them to complete the hike a day early, so they continued on.  Most of the remaining six mile stretch of trail was hiked in the dark.  It was truly an adventure for the boys and the adults hiking at night with headlamps beaming down on the trail in the dark of the canyon.  The kids were amazing and we are so proud of them!  They broke all sorts of records; it had been at least five years since we had a group of teens that were able to physically hike nineteen miles in one day.  Congratulations guys for accomplishing such an amazing feat!!

The following day, the boys spent relaxing and working on therapeutic assignments.  It was a day of great reflection as the guys thought about their lives and some of the issues that got them to where they were prior to enrolling in our teen boarding school.  New commitments were made towards establishing a healthier life style and another experience of creating success in the lives of teens had been achieved.

Before transitioning back to Turning Winds Academic Institute, the group stopped off at Silverwood Theme park for an Octobers’ evening celebration.  The kids had a blast at the park eating “ junkfood” and enjoying the park rides.  For more information on Silverwood Theme Park visit,  We are so proud of our students for their amazing accomplishment and for having the courage do something that very few people would ever accomplish in their lives.  It is an amazing testament to the great abilities that we have as people when we put our minds to accomplishing something so great.  No obstacle in life is impossible to make it through given the right planning, tools and determination. 

By:  John Baisden


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