Mountain Desert Trek

  • Age Range: 16-18 year olds
  • Min Group size: 8 - Max group size: 18
  • Gender: All
  • Instructors 2-3
  • 43 days on trek
  • Cost: $7,950
  • Dates: June 24 - August 5, 2024

FOCUS: Leadership, Adventure, Challenge

Trek Details

People: Who We Are

MDT is designed to support emerging young leaders and mentors as they prepare to take on greater responsibilities in their communities.

Young Leaders of the Gulch Community: MDT Trekkers internalize our Gulch values to become compassionate, mindful and competent young adults who share their knowledge with each other and future generations. Leadership skills are a focal point for MDT, and trekkers are encouraged to step up as mentors for younger participants as they overcome physical challenges and model community mindfulness. 

Independent Individuals: As the longest Trek experience the Gulch offers, MDT takes eager outdoor adventurers and molds them into environmental and cultural stewards. Along the expedition, trekkers are encouraged to think deeply about the how’s and why’s of the southwest, and design an answer to their curiosities in the form of a final project.

Places: Where We Go

MDT spends over 5 weeks romping about the American Southwest and diving deeply into facets of the local community, exploring unparalleled and making life-long memories with peers.

Basecamp: As our longest trek, Basecamp is a settle spot for MDT when they’re not on the road. They spend a short weekend at basecamp while earning their Wilderness First Aid certification, help host our two rendezvous events, and then culminate their summer with a week spent with our specialists crafting their personal projects. 

On the Road: MDT spends about 30 days on the road, on two large loops. MDT trekkers get an opportunity to explore areas that no other treks explore, such the White Sands and Carlsbad caverns in Southern New Mexico,  Glen Canyon and Grand Staircase Escalante in southwestern Utah, or Great Sand Dunes in southern Colorado. In between epic hikes and awesome adventures, MDT often finds time to take a sunny nap in a wildflower field, or swim in a wild stretch of river, or bike pack a forgotten stretch of the Zuni Mountains. In previous years, MDT trekkers have been invited to unique cultural experiences such as ceremonial dances, sheep butchering, and private tours of historical landmarks.

In the Backcountry: As the culminating challenge of our trek experience, MDT offers multiple backpacking experiences in areas such as Escalante National Monument, Canyonlands National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Great Sand Dunes National Park and the Gila National Forest. Each year offers a unique experience depending on weather and permits, but all are built sequentially ending with a backpacking trip that MDT trekkers help plan and lead.

Projects: What We Do

MDT lives in community with integrity and accountability; this trek is focused on providing ample opportunities for trekkers to flourish into self-sufficient, independent, compassionate leaders and to share their growth with the next generation of trekkers who may follow in their footsteps.

Technical Skills Development: 

  • Wilderness First Aid certification: Trekkers will participate in a WFA certification to gain outdoor safety and risk management skills.
  • Details/Navigation/Coordination: Trekkers will become experts in the Gulch-specific logistics of a trek, and they will share that knowledge with younger participants, staff and each other.

Collaborating through Adventure:

  • Partnering with organizations: Trekkers will work with experts in the field on restoration projects; collecting data and contributing to community efforts in stewardship.
  • Backpacking: MDT spends the most time in the Wilderness of any group at the Gulch. While backpacking, trekkers will focus on mastering the skills required to safely and successfully hike through the backcountry.
  • A “Peak” Experience: MDT trekkers are prepped to summit a 13K -14K+ft mountain (past peaks include Wheeler Peak (Taos, NM 13,177 ft), Western Spanish Peak (CO, 13,631 ft) and Humboldt Peak (CO 14,068 ft)

Mentorship at the Gulch:

  • Design, plan and lead a backpacking trip: Trekkers will collaborate on the logistics and coordination of a 2-4 day backpack trip to demonstrate their leadership abilities and understanding of safe backcountry travel.

For Prairie Trek, Turquoise Trail Trek, Quartz Trek and Mountain Desert Trek  there is the option of a trekker to apply to be a Cook’s Assistant or Quarter Master (CA and QM). Click here to apply.