This expedition includes:
- Conservation service
- Native American service project
- Mountain backpacking
- Peak ascents
Participants will push themselves throughout this expedition, discovering new strengths in themselves each day. On a multi-day canoe trip, the group discovers how far they can travel on their own power. Next, they’ll immerse themselves in the culture of Zuni Pueblo while giving back by helping in the community garden and building communal bread ovens. The final leg of the expedition takes the group backpacking in the rugged La Plata Mountains, where they’ll help out with conservation projects based out of the Rio Oso environmental education cabin in Bear Creek.
“I will take away a work ethic, a sense of what service means, and a piece of a culture I never knew existed prior to visiting the Zuni Pueblo” – Niajhira, participant
Arrive at Basecamp
Participants arrive at Basecamp throughout the first afternoon. Their expedition leaders help them become acquainted with Deer Hill, as participants meet each other and the group begins to form. In addition to playing games, and eating home-cooked meals, the group will begin to pack group and personal gear for the first part of their trip.
Canoeing the San Juan
Packed and ready, participants propel themselves down the San Juan River in canoes, learning paddling techniques for the safe navigation of western rivers. The San Juan offers eye-popping views, enchanting hikes, and gorgeous campsites for relaxing evenings, as well as splashy class 1 and 2 rapids that allow boaters of all levels to practice their skills.
Service in Zuni Pueblo
Participants camp one night along the way between the river and service section. Once at Zuni Pueblo, the group will live and work with their hosts on projects such as tending the community garden and repairing or building traditional outdoor bread ovens. The group will learn about Zuni traditions and lifestyles, hike to some of the places that hold stories of deep cultural and historical significance.
Backpacking in the La Plata Mountains
Participants backpack into the La Plata Range in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. In addition to learning mountain skills, the group will carry out conservation service projects such as repairing washed out trails, removing trail debris, or mitigating campsite impact. When not engaged in service, the group will attempt a sunrise peak ascent of a 12- or 13,000-foot peak, and enjoy the display of alpine wildflowers that make Southwest Colorado such a coveted place.
Return to Basecamp
Participants return to Basecamp for program closure. The group cleans equipment and returns it to its storage locations at Basecamp, and returns any rental items to the Deer Hill Store. The group holds a closing ceremony to conclude their experience, and enjoys a cookout and slideshow on the final evening. On the last day of the program, expedition leaders drive participants to the Durango airport to return home.
Start and End at Basecamp
The expedition is bookended with time at Deer Hill’s Basecamp in Mancos, CO. From Days 1 to 3, participants get to know each other as they pack group and personal gear for their river expedition. At the end of their expedition, the group returns to Basecamp (Days 19-21) for hot showers and home-cooked meals. The final full day will include a closing ceremony and celebration with a cookout and slideshow.
The group is at Basecamp only at the beginning and end of the expedition, and between he service and backpacking sections.
The service project was an incredible experience. We were working first hand with people who cherish their culture and lives so much and for them to let us participate in their traditions was amazing.Martin, participant