Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Dirty Verde

This week I cried twice and I also bawled twice.
It was intense. It emotionally sucked me dry.

But I learned so much.
"the very moments that seem to overcome us with suffering are those that will ultimately suffer us to overcome." Joseph B. Wirthlin

This week I walked with the girls band and trailwalker Andy. He's a good friend from school so it was good to have him around when I needed to completely break down and bawl my eyes out.

This week was a fun little hike. Nothing too intense except for when we had to swim across the Verde River twice. We ran into a couple people kayaking who said they wait till this month to cross because it's the craziest with all the snow melt. ...I guess they didn't think about that one when they planned to have a couple groups of kids swim across it.

The first hiking day was fine other than the fact that we got in a little late (after hiking for 6 hours) to where we wanted to camp and none of us could bust (make fire) so we did without that first night. That means it wasn't too warm and we could only eat what we didn't have to cook (we made cold cereal with oats, dried milk, brown sugar, and nuts... it's actually really good). The stars looked even brighter that night, though.

In the morning Andy made a new fire set with a dead saguaro placed conveniently in the middle of our campsite and was finally able to bust a coal. We got some food in us and took off again for the Verde River.

After hiking for about 5 hours over mountains and through mine fields of cactus's, we made it to the Verde River just in time to see the band ahead of us cross over. We were next.
Andy jumped in first with his pack beside him, a YW (young walker), another YW, then me.
I got to see the shocked looks on everyone's faces as the freezing cold water erased all thoughts from their minds. I jumped in and all my breath left me.

Oh, and did I mention that I can't swim very well? Yeah. I didn't make it to the designated spot for exiting the river. Good thing Kyle had an emergency exit. Me and another YW floated on down stream as Kyle ran across the shore to help us at the next possible place we could get out before the river turned to rapids.
We got there, obviously, but by this time our 30-40 lb packs weighed about 50-60 with everything being soaked with water. Kyle pulled those up mud slide and then we crawled up after them. We were soaked, all of our stuff was soaked, and we needed to get somewhere to make a fire.
We hiked for about 15 more minutes, found a good camping spot, then changed into some of Andy's clothes because he packed smart enough so all his clothes were dry. Andy's the best.

I was pretty irritated at that point because I was cold and no one was trying hard to get a fire going (even though we'd all gone through the night before with out one) and so I started to get an attitude and told people to focus.
It worked.
We got fire.
Everyone's stuff got dry.
and I also burned a few holes in my sleeping bag because I held it too close to the fire. Whoops.

The next day we went hiking again to find the next spot where we would cross. Andy got sick and threw up on the way. A YW got a migraine on the way.

We got into camp and I made it clear that we would not cross that night regardless of circumstance. ...They were planning on us not crossing anyway. The river had risen even over night and the band that had barely crossed before us had a LOT of difficulties (one trail walker got separated from his pack- it went down stream about 40 miles before some random guy found it, went through it, called anasazi thinking he'd found someone's stuff that had died in the river), and a YW got pushed down stream only yards away from a little waterfall before he miraculously grabbed a branch under water and was pulled on to shore.

I was relieved that we wouldn't have to cross but I was also pissed because that other band had so many difficulties getting across. I felt like the trail was unsafe at that point and the only thing I could do about it was gather wood. So I did.
Andy had to stop me.
As I was bringing my last pile of wood over to the fire the YW who had been trying to bust gave up.
She flipped.
"F*** this place, I'm sick of it. I'd rather be in prison. I'm sick of this. I hate being pressured. ...I'm not the screw up child." She then continued to spit out information about her life that made me sick. I was already stressed out and then listening to all of her problems brought me to tears. She was sitting there suffering (from reality or from perceptions of her own reality, either way it's hard), and I didn't know how to help.
I'm not the healer. I understand that. But it's so difficult to watch someone else suffer. I wanted to help and even if I'd had something to say, she wasn't ready for it. That was hard, too. She knew she needed to change and pull out of where she'd put herself, but she wasn't open for suggestions on how to do it. I just had to listen. It was hard.

I bawled that night to Andy. He just let me cry. Thanks Andy.

The next day we crossed the verde. Dan came. We tied two packs to the backs of Andy and Dan and One YW swam behind one, then me and the other YW swam behind the other. We made it across fine and had a fire to come to to dry everything off. Everyone's things were dry and we had a great night. Thanks Dan.

The next hike was amazing. We had such a good time.

When we got to final D we got two new rabbitsticks (a rabbit stick walker is a new YW just starting the program). One of the YW's was not OK with that which brought more drama and more crying from me.

I had the option of leaving the band for the last couple of days but there was no way in H I could have done that. Andy and I stayed and we got to name the two girls and we had a wonderful bonding experience with the both of them. Thanks girls.

I learned this week about setting personal boundaries and being in a place where I can trust the plan of Heavenly Father. I learned that He has everything under control. I learned that all I can do is be worthy of the spirit and the spirit will lead and guide me so I might know the needs of each person I come in contact with. That's all I can do.

If all I need to do is sit and listen, that's fine. That may be all they need.
People learn in different ways. Some need to be instructed every step of the way, they need someone to hold their hand and do it with them. Some people need to figure it out on their own, they need to recognize that they need something and then they can get it. Some people need others to point out the way. etc. etc.
There are so many different ways that people need to be helped. There is one way to know what each of those ways is.

The spirit, man. Life is so simple. I love it.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


So, I've been asked by a few people to actually explain what my job is. I guess I overlooked that little detail.

The name Anasazi came from an old Indian tribe that used to live here in Arizona. 20 years ago that named was placed with the organization I now work with.

The purpose of the Anasazi program is to "turn hearts homeward". My job is to create an environment where an individual can better come to know himself, his Creator, and become one with his family. The program both works with child and parent, creating a give and take relationship where both are involved.

These kids come out to the office (sometimes willingly, sometimes after having woken up with two policemen at their bed with tazers out), and get to know everyone. We feed them pizza, give them all their gear, and teach them how to pack it up so they can carry it ("it" weighing about 50 lbs) for about 20 miles a week (over mountains, through creeks, bush waking, over cliffs, off cliffs, etc. etc.).

They then head out to the "trail" (there actually is no "trail") and let nature take care of them. They are there for at least 6 weeks and typically 7-8. During this time we (as trail walkers) do our best to insure that the environment is clear so it can be just them and nature. We present challenges and questions that help them ponder and search for answers. They learn the importance of coming together and working as one (when there is a rain storm that is not something hard to do) and we help them relate the experience to things that go on at home.

While they are out there they learn little principles like "The making of an Asking" which is the importance of realizing you need others and your humility to ask them for what they have, "The making of a trusting" being willing to trust and allow others to begin again, "new beginnings" allowing yourself to constantly move forward and let go of mistakes of the past, "blanket steppings" the actual process of removing physical or spiritual things from your life that are inhibiting, or adding more things into it, etc. They learn how to make fire out of sticks, they learn about edible plants, plants that heal sicknesses, the way of animals, the way of the sun, rocks, wind, an then they learn how everything works together in a state of "we".

As a Trail Walker I am out there every other week with whatever group I am assigned to (boys, girls, 18+), and all are very different. It always changes depending on individual needs of the Young walkers (which are the students going through the program) and my own person struggles and experiences I am going through at the time. Just as the young walkers are going through the program, so am I. I get to go out there, get angry at all the cactus', and then realize that if I would just calm down I wouldn't get stabbed so often. I get to think and learn and share my own experiences with others and help them to have their own.

It's so sweet. Everyone should work here. And also everyone should send their kids here.
It's neat getting to know the culture here and learning the true principles that are taught within the program. There are a lot.

So, there are the logistics of the program. I'm heading back out to the trail in the morning so I'll have some more stories when I make it back in a week!