We understand that mountaineering is not for everyone. Recovery Beyond recently expanded its programming options to include other physical outdoor activities to accommodate the varied abilities of our program participants. Backpacking is one of these activities. For the inaugural backpacking trip this summer (exciting, we know!), Recovery Beyond decided to backpack to Spider Meadows, a gorgeous alpine meadow hike located close to Leavenworth, Washington. There was a limit of eight people for this trip. In June we had seven participants from the Tacoma Rescue Mission and Seattle Union Gospel Mission, our program partners, signed up to participate in this trip. Program participant numbers fluctuate for a variety of reasons throughout the year, including graduation from our partner programs before our program year ends, moving, and getting a new job. We ended up having two program participants for this trip. The trip was broken down into three days, and on each day, physical abilities were put to the test, relationships were strengthened, and ample time out in nature was enjoyed.
Day 1: Riverton Union Gospel Mission to Spider Meadows
On day one, the team, consisting of program participants and Recovery Beyond team leads, set out from Riverton Union Gospel Mission early in the morning. They drove to the Phelps Creek trailhead, prepped their gear, and began their backpacking journey together to Spider Meadows at 1:30 pm. They planned to arrive at camp around 4:30 pm. Spider Meadows was about 6 miles from the trailhead. The weather was warm, muggy, and there were quite a few bugs. The team hiked for an hour, took a break for ten minutes, and then repeated this pattern of hiking and taking a break until they arrived at camp around 5:00 pm. Once they arrived, they found a beautiful camping area in the meadow to set up camp. There were wildflowers everywhere and it was a gorgeous sight to see! After setting up their tents, they made dinner and filtered their water at a nearby creek. They were thankful to be able to enjoy a beautiful sunset and evening stars together, and then headed off to bed around 10:00 pm.
Day 2: A Hike to Spider Gap
On day two, the team woke up around 7 am, ate breakfast, and set off on a strenuous hike up to Spider Gap around 9:30 am. It was a beautiful hike and nature was in full effect all around. Spider Gap became the new physical high point of this expedition, with an elevation of 7,100’. The team arrived at the pass around noon, ate lunch, and then returned to camp for the evening, arriving at 3 pm. During dinner that evening, everyone took turns reflecting on the trip thus far, their experiences, and what it meant to be together as a team.
Day 3: Packing up and heading out
The team awoke at 7 am to a fair amount of rain on day three. They decided to eat a cold breakfast and pack up camp quickly. They hit the trail soon after, around 8:30 am, and were back to their cars before they knew it, around 11:00 am. They rendezvoused at a diner in Plain, Washington, for a warm lunch. Out of the rain and inside with good food, they were able to have a moment to reflect, connect, and celebrate a great weekend together in the backcountry.
Reflection on Teamwork
Teamwork can present itself in many ways. It can present itself as a safety measure on a mountain being roped up together. It can present itself as active listening to make sure all needs and concerns are being accommodated and met so that a goal can be achieved. It can be the sharing of kind words to encourage and motivate one another. It’s the understanding of everyone’s abilities and strengths. Teamwork, ultimately, is being able to work together toward a goal and knowing that you need each other’s strengths and dedication to be able to find success. This backpacking trip brought out new opportunities for Recovery Beyond’s program participants to become part of a team and to build new relationships. Just like a trail leading to a beautiful place, new and strong relationships are pathways to a place of lasting sobriety. Overall, the trip was a fantastic inaugural success and we look forward to our next backpacking adventure!
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