Telluride Adaptive hosted its first Summer Wounded Warrior Project: Project Odyssey this last week in the rugged desert outside of Moab. From canyoneering to moonlit hikes and group therapy sessions throughout, warriors were able to rediscover themselves, the outdoors, and fellow service members.
WWP’s Project Odyssey is geared towards utilizing nature and recreation to heal the spirit of our wounded servicemen and women. As this mission so closely parallels Telluride Adaptive’s military initiatives, a partnership was quickly struck and the stage for the first TASP Project Odyssey was set at Dead Horse State Park in the unrivaled Utah desert.
The warriors arrived to find their lodging in the form of three newly built yurts set amongst the red sand and dramatic cliffs of the state park. After a meet and greet and initial group session, the warriors jumped straight into their first activity: a sunset hike to one of the many remarkable viewpoints along the canyon rim. With clouds ablaze and cliffs sporting alpenglow, warriors alternated between excited photos with new friends and silent contemplation of the expansive desert set before them.
If anything could beat the sunset of the night before, it was the sunrise of the next morning, and after a French toast breakfast, the warriors were fueled up and excited for the days bike ride. Sporting some of Poison Spider’s most high end bikes, the crew rode off in style along the network of flowing desert trail marked with technical spots of slickrock and boulders. For some the experience of mountain biking was brand new and for others the desert posed a welcome change-up to a loved sport; all rose to the challenge and reveled in the adventure.
The adventure and challenge only grew into the next day as the group spent the day canyoneering. A hike throughout a world of undulating slickrock and washed out gullies led to the mouth of the first rappel: a narrow and enclosed waterfall wash leading to a ledge with pooled water and the sandy bottom of a narrow canyon below it. Nerves were certainly firing as some warriors tried to remember training and previous rappelling experiences while others focused in on their breathing and just not looking down the intimidating pit. Regardless of skill or anxiety level, each warrior made it down and stayed to encourage and applaud the others.
A short walk farther, and the second rappel loomed in front of the group. This was certainly a capstone moment as the rappel plunged over 100 feet down a slick red wall with an arch towering above the climber. Just to add a little excitement, the wall soon disappeared, and the climber was left hanging from the rope with nothing but air to comfort them. Bolstered by the group and their previous successes, each warrior completed the rappel and reveled in the incredible scenery and great accomplishments of the day.
The campfire that final night saw everyone sharing in their achievements and setting goals for themselves as they returned back to normal life. A great sense of comradery and shared experience was abundant and TASP is excited and hopeful to see some familiar faces from this program come and visit during the winter.