All Kinds of News for September 14, 2016
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the annual Timpanogos hike for Heritage students. The hike is organized by Susie Route, home director of one of five girls homes at Heritage, leads the annual expedition. “Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing,” said Canadian author Barry Finlay. A group of girls at Heritage School now know that for themselves. The towering mountains of Utah offer beauty, tranquility and breathtaking challenges that can provide needed insight and change lives. Students from the Sequoia East Home trained all summer to summit Mount Timpanogos in Utah, elevation 11,752 feet and 16 miles in length.
“Every week we went on hikes that got harder and longer,” Susie said. “We started out with some smaller hikes like Stewart Falls, the Y, Battle Creek to Grove Creek, mostly Utah County hikes. We also went to Little Cottonwood Canyon in Salt Lake.” The group goes out once a week, usually accompanied by house staff, academic advisers and sometimes therapists – all part of the girls’ treatment team. “We started training the end of May when the weather got nicer,” Susie said. "We went all through June and July doing a total of 10-12 hikes before Timp.”
Susie said the group summited Mount Timpanogos on July 30. “It was a just a day hike,” she said. “We started on the trail at 6 a.m. and summited for the first time this year. Every other year we have gone just to the saddle, but we made it to the very top this year. We started hikes to Timp in 2006 but have only gone to the saddle. We had permission to summit this year.”
She said most girls who went were excited and nervous. One girl wanted to turn back to the van after going a third of the way and "I told her we all go back to the van or we all summit,” she said. “She pushed herself. Another girl was helpful and coached her.” Besides seeing the obvious beauty of the majestic mountain, the girls gained new insight about themselves.
“They realize they can do hard things, things they never saw themselves doing or being able to accomplish,” Susie said. “We interview them throughout the whole hike and a lot are proud of themselves; it motivates them. This will be something that we talk about throughout the year. ‘Remember how you thought you couldn’t do this – how did you do it, how did you push yourself?’ It’s not just the hike and we’re done. We use it throughout their program until they are done.” Susie said most of the girls are not physically active but they realized they can push themselves physically and emotionally as well.
Dani, age 15, said, “Making it to the summit proved to myself that I can do emotionally/physically difficult things in this life,” she said. “Even when things are getting hard in the moment, I know how to push myself and work through the problems at hand. It helped me have confidence in myself.” Another hiker, Noemi, also 15, said, “you have to push yourself in order to truly move forward. You have to depend and trust yourself.” Noemi was given her Mastery at the summit – the highest phase that can be earned at Heritage. “We didn’t tell her that she got her Mastery until we were at the top,” Susie said. “It was awesome!” Noemi agreed. “I got my Mastery at the top and that’s freaking amazing because the hike was kinda like my program,” she explained.
Susie said the hardest part was getting the girls to prepare themselves for this difficult challenge. Some didn’t take the right amount of water; others weren’t drinking enough as they hiked. They were a team, “It was really awesome to see other girls who had extra water sharing with those who didn’t,” she said. “No one went without. We can use that as a lesson too – life is going to take work and preparation – you can’t fly by the seat of your pants. You do some work and prepare for things so they are more enjoyable and there’s not so much suffering.” Susie reflected on the one who wanted to turn back. “She was really emotional and doubted herself,” she said, “but was able to change her mindset, for her she learned she really could do hard things.” Another hiker asked Susie if she could talk to herself. “She encouraged herself, said ‘you can do this,’” Susie said. “She recognized she needed that motivation and self care. She had body issues but learned she appreciated her body and what it could do.”
Dani told of her favorite part of the trek. “My absolute favorite part of the hike was when we started going back down,” Dani said. “That sounds bad but that’s when I was able to really see all I have accomplished and how far I’ve come.” For these girls and others who come to Heritage they will learn what mountaintops are in reach if they just keep climbing.
Heritage is a non-profit residential treatment center in Provo, Utah. Founded in 1984, Heritage specializes in the treatment of mood disorders and students diagnosed on the autism spectrum. Founder Jerry Spanos pioneered the relationship model Heritage uses with students. Our direct-care residential staff, who average 10 years of experience at Heritage, develop relationships of trust with students, guiding them to healthy, productive lifestyles. Our teachers, all special education certified, help students catch up on school credits and prepare for their continued education.