Fishing Adventure to Miller Lake; Almost.

I took a trip with a friend to Miller Lake to see a group last Friday. They planned on fishing. They got there and everything looked good, went to bed and in the morning the lake had frozen over; no fishing.

Rappelling Trip Down “Pete’s Dragon” Canyon

Nature and Recovery

Ray Barlow, our program/admissions director collaborated on this article that appeared in Psychology Today.  In this article Ray shares the following about his personal experience with nature and recovery:

Ray Barlow, LSAC is the Co-Founder/Program Director of Legacy Outdoors Adventures wilderness program in Loa, Utah that specializes in treating teens age 16-17 and young adults. The following interview with Ray illuminates the magic of nature and how lives can be transformed from this connection:

1. What are the healing qualities of exposure to nature that you have observed in your work with clients who have addictions?

There is a healing power in nature that cannot be measures nor explained, yet it is very real. Time in the wilderness seems to have a healing effect on even the deepest wounds. It is no coincidence that most of the spiritual leaders and teachers throughout time have gone to the wilderness to find healing and purpose in preparation for their life’s work. One of the gifts of the wilderness is the way it gives us an honest look at ourselves, our gifts, talents, weaknesses, character defects and our true potential are all made obvious. It is this honest look at ourselves that allows us to find love and acceptance for who we are and a vision of who we can become.

2. What are the benefits of wilderness programs for client’s recovery?

Wilderness programs help a client’s recovery by restoring their self-confidence and self-efficacy. They begin to believe once again that they can be successful in life. Simply put, the experience helps them to recapture hope in their lives.

3. Are there ways that you would suggest those in recovery integrate nature into their lives when living at home?

The use of a journal to record the wilderness experience can be a powerful tool to help one connect with that experience and the lessons learned. Meditation can also be a powerful way to connect with the wilderness even if there is very little wilderness available to someone. It is also important to plan and schedule opportunities to reconnect with nature, evaluate progress, and direction.

4. What personally lead you into the field of wilderness treatment?

As a young man struggling with the loss of my parents and dealing with my own addictions, anger and fear. I retreated to the wilderness in search of relief from the pain of life and answers to my deepest questions. Through a powerful experience that cannot be fully explained or measures I found purpose and direction in my life. I came to understand that I had gifts to give and that I could overcome my weaknesses and find joy in life. I now have the blessing and responsibility to help give others the same opportunity.

Read the full text by following link to Psychology Today.

The Element of Silence

Wilderness Therapy SkillsWe drove for hours into the San Rafael Desert eventually into some rough rough terrain where the wild mustang would greet us as though we were another group of horses.  They ran parallel to the road beside us keeping up for some distance before disappearing into the pinyon and juniper not far from where we would make camp.  We had come to their beautiful world and they behaved like curious, slightly threatened hosts.

We trod through extensive patches of cactus and Russian thistle who cast a vague allusion to damnation, weakened by the elaborate beauty of the massive sandstone walls, towers, and buttes; like a palace of forgotten gods or the the place where the Almighty rested after creation.

We set camp quickly and then prepared the ceremony to send two men out on vision quest.  The ceremony was a deliciously beautiful reflection of the power of intention brought by the questers.  The next 72 hours would be in ceremony both for the hungry men who emptied themselves, and for the camp who prayed for them and helped, each in his way to contain the trans-formative healing energy of this ancient rite of passage.

On the third day two men joined the fast these on their first twenty four hour solos.

Time stretched into eternity and then dissolved bringing the ceremony to a closing feast.  Where the new men, calmer from silence, and hunger returned.  After the feast we processed the experience in cloaked terms, holding the good stuff close to allow it to shape them.  Days later, after the shift change they’d be invited to talk more if it felt right.

Later, at base camp in the Dixie National Forest we would talk about how hard it was to leave the desert, the ceremony, the nearness to spirit and meaning.  Yet ceremony is designed to use the space, contain the transformation, and then return with a sense of cohesion and being put together properly.  To be down to earth in one’s  normal, although new self.

If I ever worked with a more powerful staff team, in a more awesome location, with a more intent group: I don’t recall.  This was as good as it gets!  We finished the week with each expressing the poetry of our experiences of silence.  I’ve come to regard it as one of the most powerful elements of healing.

Thank you all for making this possible!


Charlie Hopper, Guide.