A series of firsts – GAP Year base phase 1

by Andrea Wackerle

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Hi family and friends! I am so excited to have this opportunity to fill you in on all of the incredible things that we have been up to since our time at SOAR GAP Year began a couple of short weeks ago. From the moment we began our sweet farewells to each of you, we have been making ourselves at home here at Eagle View Ranch, and quickly creating some truly amazing friendships and relationships within the group. We, the Star Gazers, are beyond excited for all of the life-changing opportunities that will come our way in the next several months and are looking forward to growing alongside our peers and sharing these impactful experiences with you. With that being said, welcome to the first post of our blog! Here you will find some of the stories, memories, and remarkable moments that stand out to us. Stay in touch to catch a little glimpse of our adventures and keep up with us throughout our journeys!


So I’ll bet that, at this point, you are wondering what we have been up to lately. Let’s start with a little bit of the basics. Each day we participate in what is called “Evening Meeting”. These meetings provide us the chance to reflect on our day, partake in processing activities, discuss areas of development in our group dynamic, and give thanks (what we call ‘kudos’) to the individuals who made a positive impact on our day. These meetings have helped to instill trust and understanding within our group and are a great note to end each day on! We have also found ourselves building trust and strengthening our relationships through a variety of exciting activities such as climbing the Alpine Tower on base, shooting archery, playing card games, or just simply sitting with one another and telling life stories.


With just a blink of an eye, we are already back from our first trip away from base! The trip started on day three of being here and we spent four days exploring Sinks Canyon (WY). One of the most memorable moments of our Sinks Canyon adventure was our caving trip! Though the entire caving experience was just incredible, the most spectacular part of it was when we climbed out of the cave, into the darkness, without the use of our headlamps…talk about cool! That same day we rappelled down the face of Sandstone Buttress, a 40-foot high formation located within the Park, where we spotted a baby Rattlesnake! Our second day in Sinks Canyon led us to more rock time – this time climbing School Yard Rock. This turned out to be a really neat group experience, as some of us pushed ourselves out of our comfort zones and into areas of vulnerability. It quickly became evident that we were in it together, encouraging one another and providing safe spaces for learning and growing while facing some of our fears. On our journey back to base, from Sinks Canyon, we stopped in Riverton for our first food buy. This was exciting because each of us are learning and working to create healthy, well-rounded meal plans while sticking to a budget. This was our first opportunity to put our practice to work. You’d be proud to hear that each of us stayed under budget and ate some incredible meals during our first week! The next day we had our first day of exercise at the gym in town, followed by our first trip to the laundromat. While keeping busy with these little tasks, cleaning, packing, and learning different Life Skills, it seemed like no time before we were off on our second trip – this time to Yellowstone National Park.


Our drive into Yellowstone filled the entire van with energy and excitement as we passed so many Bison! The first stop on our list was to see Old Faithful. Though many of us had previously witnessed this breathtaking force of nature, two of our group members were experiencing it for the very first time – how exhilarating! We had an early start to our second day in Yellowstone. We walked through Norris Geyser Basin, observing the incredible views of Steamboat and many other Geysers, as they filled the frosty cool air will pillows of steam. After a quiet morning spent in the Basin, we hiked down to the Boiling River and enjoyed a little swim in one of the neatest of areas!  This river was met by a stream of hydrothermal water which collided with the chilly river water to create small hot-spring-like pools of water just perfect for relaxing. While we soaked in the river, telling stories and continuing to get to know one another, a doe Elk popped its head out of the brush right across from us and eventually walked right into the river as if we weren’t even there! This was such an invigorating thing to experience! To finish off our already incredible day, we caught a breathtaking view of the sunset at Artist Point – where we wrapped up the day with our Evening Meeting. Our final full day in Yellowstone was spent hiking nearly seven miles up to Purple Mountain, an elevation gain of just over 2,000 feet! This was such a powerful moment for us as it was the first of many mountains we will summit together, as Star Gazers.


I think we can all agree that it was nice to crawl back into our beds at base after a handful of frigid, yet beautiful, nights spent in Yellowstone. As we catch up on rest and prepare ourselves for more adventures to come, we are getting exceptionally excited for our first Expedition, which we head out for early Monday morning! We have only a few minor touches left in the planning process of our trip through Washington and Idaho and we can’t wait to fill you in on all of our upcoming happenings!! We wish you well and look forward to touching base again with all of you soon!

Happiest of trails — Star Gazers