Mountain Desert Trek

Summer Trek

DETAILS

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MORE INFORMATION

Overview of Mountain Desert Trek

Take on new challenges and join a group of peers who enjoy being outdoors to explore the Southwest. Among the backdrop of rugged desert canyons and stunning mountain summits, MDT Trekkers will develop skills through personal projects, planning expeditions, and communal living. Leadership skills like communication and group decision making will be central to this trek and serve as a great foundation for your next challenges at home, school, or work.

The itinerary varies from year to year (see below for a sample itinerary), but each year the MDT goes on three multi-day backpacking trips, visits unforgettable Southwestern landscapes, and dives deep into culture and ecology. They will learn skills like reading a topographic map, cooking on a single burner backpacking stove, route finding, working through conflict, selecting a campsite, and more. By the end, they come away with a close group of friends, outdoor and leadership skills, great memories, and new perspectives after six weeks of exploration and overcoming challenges.

 

 

MDT is the longest expedition we offer and as such, trekkers on this expedition have the opportunity to soak up more of what the Southwest has to offer. If spending six weeks immersed in wilderness adventure, arts, culture, and science in places like the deep canyons of Zion National Park or the alpine lakes of the San Juan National Forest with a small group of peers sounds like the best summer of your life, this trek is for you! While substantial wilderness experience is not a requirement to join MDT, trekkers who are already comfortable spending time outdoors and those who are excited to contribute to a positive group experience will have the most success.

The MDT spends the majority of their time exploring the wild places of the Four Corners states, though they will have about a week to get to know Basecamp. While at Basecamp, trekkers will have the opportunity to learn new skills from our specialists like metalsmithing, animal tracking, plant identification, mountain biking, farming, cooking, music, and rock climbing. The exact specialties of our staff vary from year to year, but we always have an incredibly talented and knowledgeable team that is excited to introduce trekkers to new skills as well as offer deeper exploration for those already familiar with a topic.

While on trek with us, participants will complete a project in a field they are interested in. These are meant to be opportunities to take advantage of the vast knowledge sets of our staff, dive deeper into a topic of interest, and to walk away from the summer having a tangible example of all that was accomplished. Examples of past projects include: creating maps, conducting a stream study, creating a field guide, compiling an art portfolio, writing an original song, planning and leading activities for other trekkers, and many more. To help us prepare to facilitate these projects, we will send a survey for your trekker to complete. If they aren’t sure, that’s okay! Our staff is ready and excited to talk with them about their interests and figure out what makes sense.

Age Range: 16 - 18

Gender: All welcome, Male, Female, Non-binary

Min Group Size: 8

Max Group Size: 18

Instructors: 3

Elevation: 5,000 to 14,000 feet

45 Days on Trek

number of days on the trek

Cost: $7,600

6/25 - 8/9

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Trek Details

This trek will encourage trekkers to explore, create, learn, listen and play. Here are the details!

Explore|Outdoor Adventure

  • 10 to 12 days backpacking loops 
  • Colorado/Utah sites/backpacks
  • Solo Backpacking!  Our leaders will drop you off in a valley, nature’s safety bumpers, and you will spend a night on your own!
  • Grand Canyon
  • Bikepack

Create | Art / Music

  • Glassblowing (pending Ellen Ebersole’s confirmation)
  • Knife-making (pending Joe Herrara’s confirmation)
  • Silversmithing/Jewelry making 
  • Woodworking, get to practice with small hand tools!
  • Opportunities for leather working, pottery, weaving, beading 

Learn | Science / Technical Skills

  • Leadership in Wilderness
  • Outdoor Cooking
  • Using meteorology and astronomy to guide your outdoor experiences
  • Field instruction on Climate Science, Archaeology, Anthropology, Forestry, Paleontology, Ecology, Geology, Ornithology, Herpetology, etc.

Listen | Culture / Community

  • Deeper understanding of the history of people’s place in the Southwest
  • Visit a Native American festival, pending invitation and Covid regulations
  • Volunteer at a Dine/Navajo farm
  • Service Learning Project to help better the community

Enjoy

  • Tree Climbing the Ponderosa Pines at Basecamp
  • Rock Climbing in multiple locations like Mentmore sandstone crag which multiple single pitch options
  • Mountain biking

6/25 - 8/9

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Trek Log

Kurtholomew

Alright, so today we woke up at some nice campsite in Colorado. After we woke up, we ate nice grit patties made by chef Isaac. We double-checked our backpacks, packed up camp, and headed out to the trailhead. We stretched, learned the dirty old grandpa, and started our climb. We took a lunch break at some rocks, which consisted of tortillas, DIIJONNN mustard, avocados, cucumbers, and PB&J. Someone got avocado stuck in Isaac’s knife, and we still don’t know who the culprit is. After hiking through some rain, we decided to settle on a very slope-y hill near the trail. It started hailing, so we migrated under the tarps. After trying to sleep, we realized we were all slipping down, especially Sing, who almost rolled to the bottom of the mountain. After lying down for a little, we ate dinner, which was rice and chickenish. We all sang happy birthday to Chung, who got a beautiful bouquet of flowers and an exquisite card. Afterwards, we traversed up a steep slope to discover a giant school of sheep swarming the hills of Colorado. We soon turned around when we saw 3 dogs; Paulina, Aquarius, and Dequanis. Later, at night, we all went up the same slope to watch the sunset & sheep. We sat on grass and talked about zodiac signs. We then proceeded to have campfire with Paulina and the millions of sheep. After a few falls down the hill, we managed to make it to the bottom without many scrapes & bruises. Then we tried to fall asleep without rolling down the mountain.

Annie

Alright, so today we woke up at some nice campsite in Colorado. After we woke up, we ate nice grit patties made by chef Isaac. We double-checked our backpacks, packed up camp, and headed out to the trailhead. We stretched, learned the dirty old grandpa, and started our climb. We took a lunch break at some rocks, which consisted of tortillas, DIIJONNN mustard, avocados, cucumbers, and PB&J. Someone got avocado stuck in Isaac’s knife, and we still don’t know who the culprit is. After hiking through some rain, we decided to settle on a very slope-y hill near the trail. It started hailing, so we migrated under the tarps. After trying to sleep, we realized we were all slipping down, especially Sing, who almost rolled to the bottom of the mountain. After lying down for a little, we ate dinner, which was rice and chickenish. We all sang happy birthday to Chung, who got a beautiful bouquet of flowers and an exquisite card. Afterwards, we traversed up a steep slope to discover a giant school of sheep swarming the hills of Colorado. We soon turned around when we saw 3 dogs; Paulina, Aquarius, and Dequanis. Later, at night, we all went up the same slope to watch the sunset & sheep. We sat on grass and talked about zodiac signs. We then proceeded to have campfire with Paulina and the millions of sheep. After a few falls down the hill, we managed to make it to the bottom without many scrapes & bruises. Then we tried to fall asleep without rolling down the mountain.

Resources for Parents

Within Your Itinerary You Might

The trek itineraries vary year to year, depending on permits and staff expertise

  • Meet with a musician
  • Visit an Amphitheater
  • Take some Day hikes
  • Meet with an instrument manufacturer
  • Visit music festival
  • Visit Hispanic Cultural Center and Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
  • A Sunset hike
  • Basecamp Loop (Cottonwoods)
  • Visit Zuni Pueblo to meet musicians and artists
  • Meet with an artist 
  • Visit Georgia O’Keefe Museum and other local art based museums  
  • Visit Taos Earthships
  • Explore Lavender Farm
  • Day hike Canyon de Chelly
  • Day hike El Morro National Monument

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