Yesterday, I wrapped up my first of hopefully many seasons to come with Outward Bound. We spent a day at Old City Park (the best grass in Moab) de-briefing the successes we had and what we can improve for next year. We may have even had a little bit of fun.
From there, we headed off to Westwater Canyon, a section of the Colorado River that is about an hour north of Moab. Westwater is known as the mini Grand Canyon because you can see all the same layers of (really, really old) rocks. We spent one day rafting through up to class IV rapids, and I got the chance to learn how to guide a paddle boat (not through anything big though). The boat I was in was not self-bailing, so we had to use a bucket to bail out all the water after each rapid. It was also missing some thwarts, so we didn’t have anywhere to anchor our feet in, making staying in the boat during rapids quite challenging.
Having finished my first season as an LC for Outward Bound I feel accomplished. I spent the summer being challenged both personally and professionally. I got to hang out with great people everyday and learn a lot of things about myself, living in the desert, and the beauty of a simple life. I’m excited to continue working here in Moab through the end of October and returning next spring for a full season. Winter is still up in the air as to what I’ll be doing, but there are a few fun options floating around.
Last week, I headed out with six other OB instructors/administrators to run a canyon in the Robber’s Roost. The Roost, as its affectionately known, got its name because it used to be a hideout for Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch Gang. More recently, it has become semi-famous as the place where Aron Ralston had to cut off his arm while adventuring in Blue John Canyon. The Roost is only about an hour and a half away from Moab, making it an easy place to take day trips to. It is incredibly beautiful, just like almost any other place in the greater Moab area.
The seven of us ran two forks of a canyon called Three Canyon. The first fork had a few rappels that were a bit tricky, some narrows and a beautiful wash. I slipped on the first rappel near the bottom and ended up landing my butt smack in the middle of the slimiest mud you can imagine. And to think I thought I could do anything in the approach shoes I had just gotten. Eventually, we hiked out the wash and up a steep incline out of the first fork.
Being the intelligent folks we are, we stopped to look at the map and eat lunch at the top of the wash in the blazing noontime sun. We skipped the first rappel in the second fork, opting for some semi-sketchy downclimbing instead, which ended up being the theme of that fork of the canyon. Its hard to get seven people down a rappel efficiently, so we found lots of creative ways for climbing up, down and around the rappels instead of actually doing them.
The hike out the wash was more like bushwhacking through the jungle, but we did get to see two beautiful owls and a couple of deer. Post-canyon consisted of cowering in the shade of the trucks and enjoying some cold beverages. There was the classic flat tire on the way out and dinner at Ray’s in Green River.
One of my finer moments from the summer, captured by my friend and co-worker, Kate O’Donnell. This was after my return from the 3 day intensive transfer on my first course, hard work at its finest!
If someone had asked me four years ago what I thought I would be doing with my post-college life, I probably would have said something along the lines of having a full-time job that came with benefits and a steady pay check. I might have predicted that I would be living in a metropolitan city, in my own apartment with my own furniture, art on the walls and a well-stocked kitchen.
Funny how time changes everything, and instead I am living four miles outside of a town whose closest Target is two hours away, in a house I share with between four and twenty four other people. I’m working seasonally for one of the world’s premier outdoor education schools and earning tens of dollars a day, with no standard benefits, and my grocery shopping consists a lot of raiding the roadkill fridge at work. I’m sure my parents are so proud that this is where all of the money they spent on my college education landed me.
Life as an Outward Bound Logistics Coordinator is not as bad as the previous paragraph makes it sound. I wake up every day and I’m excited to go to work. Packing for a course is like one huge puzzle with many smaller puzzles within it, and many even smaller puzzles within those, and a few unexpected pieces that will be thrown in and have to fit somewhere. Its exciting and exhausting. Its a lot of manual labor, lifting heavy gear, chopping veggies, driving huge trucks and trailers, and even cleaning groovers (metal boxes that people use to go number 2 on river trips).
Sure, the work is fun, but its really the people that make Colorado Outward School’s Southwest Program such a one-of-a-kind place. I don’t have a bad thing to say about a single one of my co-workers. Every individual here is valued and even though there is technically a hierarchy, its mostly invisible. Everyone is always willing to lend a hand, and not because they feel they should, but rather because they genuinely want to. The work and living environment is completely safe and I’m not sure there’s been a day at work or off of work where I haven’t laughed so hard I cried. Everyday I feel challenged to be my best self and excel at each task I have ahead of me. I feel supported and appreciated by each staff member I work with. I’m not sure that there are many other jobs that I’ve worked where if one of the administrators called me up at 11 PM and asked me to do a 6 hour round trip drive the next morning at 4 AM, that my response would have been ‘I’d love to’.
Does my 18 year old self’s vision of what my fabulous post-college life think that my 23 year old self has failed her? No, not one bit. I may not be banking as much cash as I thought, but I am incredibly happy where I am and doing the work that I do, and for me, that means that I have actually achieved greater success than my 18 year-old self predicted.