This story was originally posted in the Wilderness Volunteers Blog in October 2013. Visit the Wilderness Volunteers website for the complete story.
A Transformational Trip to Escalante by Rebecca Glucklich
The work is hard. Really hard. 6 or so hours a day in the desert heat sawing, loping, hauling and chopping these beasts of trees with thorns so sharp they’ll go right through your shirt (I have a few battle scars to prove it.) But after my first day, I felt more relaxed and at ease than I had been in years and apparently left some of my inner aggressions out by the banks of the Escalante River. I wasn’t thinking about my job or my personal life or Facebook (although, I was a little relieved to have wireless at night to post some stellar pics!). Every day, though the hike to and from the worksite got a little longer, the days seemed to fly by. I spent one whole morning in and by the river working on deconstructing a massive snarl of Russian Olive trees, river debris and probably a few other types of plants and trees. When the Russian Olive was finally cleared out enough for the sawyers to take down, it was the most exhilarating and satisfying feeling in the world. To quote one of my other favorite books, “I swear we were infinite.” (The Perks of Being a Wallflower)
After a week of sawing, chopping, exploring slot canyons, searching for pictograms, staring at the night sky and falling asleep to the LOUDEST frogs ever, it was time to go home. As I made my rounds of hugs and goodbyes to my new friends, including my fearless leaders Dudley and Chris, I couldn’t help but feel a little heaviness in my chest. I grew so close to this group of strangers in such a short amount of time and had a feeling that although we may be scattered around the country, we’d keep in touch and even see each other again on a future Wilderness Volunteers trip. Even now, as I write this, I must admit, my eyes are tearing up a bit remembering what an incredible time I had.
Within a week of my return, not only was I offered a new job at a new organization, but many of my friends remarked that I seemed much more relaxed and happy. I came home with such a sense of accomplishment, a feeling that I really can do whatever I set my mind and heart to. I truly felt as if my life had been changed and I have Wilderness Volunteers to thank for that. I don’t know if any Wilderness Volunteers trip will top my first one, but I will certainly do my best to try!