Wilderness Trek
West-Ark Team in Colorado
July 28 - August 5, 2006

It's hard to describe to someone who hasn't experienced Wilderness Trek just exactly what Trek is like. And once people hear about the results of a week like Trek, they want to know more about it. I hope the following pictures and descriptions will give you a brief idea of what this week was like for the 16 teenagers and adults from West-Ark who participated this past July 28th - August 5th, 2006. We thank God and praise Him for the things He did to us through this experience.

Wilderness Trek is by far the most physically challenging thing we have ever done as a youth group. The Trek staff informed us that less than 1% of the world's population will ever summit a mountain in their lifetime. NOW WE KNOW WHY! Ha!

The first day of Trek was spent climbing up to the top of a "ROCK" that would be called a mountain in Arkansas so we could learn the art of repelling. Our repel was approximately 150' in height and it was a challenge. This day gave us the opportunity to acclimate to the altitude and get used to climbing and trusting each other. It was an exciting and unforgettable experience.

Day 2 and Day 3 of Trek is where the real challenge comes. Day two is spent loading up your pack (average weight of 60 lbs) and hiking to your low camp. We hiked for approximately 2 1/2 hours the first day and the terrain was up and down. It was very challenging, but nothing like what we would face in the near future. We learned how to set up camp, tents, etc., in the rain. It rained all through set-up, cooking, devotional time and throughout that first night in the wilderness.

Day 3 was the KILLER! We hiked from just after sunrise until 5 p.m. taking only a couple of water breaks and a brief stop for lunch. During this time, our group came together as a team. People had to continuously encourage one another. People had to volunteer to take packs, bags, water, and other forms of weight from their friends in order to keep moving. The load was simply too much for some people to bear on their own, and they needed help from those around them.

Some individuals added up to 20 lbs to their regular load in order to help out those around them. Throughout the day, our group continued to sing, shout, laugh, talk, and do whatever it took to encourage the entire group. We were extremely happy to make it to high camp! Sleeping on the ground in 40 degree weather never felt so good.

Day 4 was a real blessing. We spent 3 hours in SOLO TIME alone with God. This was one of the most beneficial times of the week. We were able to think back through the challenges of the previous 3 days and think about what God was trying to say to each of us individually.

Day 5 was our summit attempt day. For perspective, we started hiking at an altitude of just over 7,000 feet and if we were successful in our summit attempt, we would have traveled approximately 20 miles to an altitude of over 13,000 feet. The name of our mountain was "Mount Hope."

We began our summit attempt before the sun came up on Day 5. It was cold, windy, and very challenging. It took us just over 4 hours to travel to the top of Mount Hope and the pictures from the top say it all. It took every member of our team to get there. We were holding hands, pushing, pulling, and doing whatever it took to help each person get to the top.

We spent about 30 minutes on the top of Mount Hope singing and praying to our INCREDIBLE GOD! Words simply can't describe the experience.

This picture of the twin lakes is a great reminder to
our team of what we accomplished during our Trek.
Our journey began where our church vans were
parked on the banks of the lake on the far right!

Our final day was spent breaking down camp, packing up tents and sleeping bags, and descending back to our starting point. Let's just say, going down is much easier than going up!

The members of our Trek team want to thank our guides, Brittany and Isaac, for all they taught us. We are also thankful for getting to meet Joel, a local teenager who joined our team and spent the week with us. Especially, we all thank God for the opportunity to go to Colorado and experience something of this magnitude. It was a life-changing event. Take the time to ask one of our Trekers and let them tell you for themself!

Brad Pistole

West-Ark Church of Christ