Phase II: Finding Your High Point

We’re a quarter of the way through our No Barriers expedition schedule and we just summited our first peak – Mount Washington in the Presidential Range of New Hampshire. You’re kidding right? Nope.

John Toth

The summits are great.
You’re on the top of the world.
The views are incredible.

But, you know, in climbing, you don’t always reach the summit.

Nature intervenes.
The altitude gets to you.
A big crevasse blocks the way.

And to be honest, to have a transformative experience, you don’t need to stand atop a mountain. The magic happens on the way up and on the way down, not just at the top.

At No Barriers Warriors, each expedition focuses on helping veterans grow and improve their lives through curriculum-based experiential learning in challenging environments – summit or no.

We create a safe space, in some of America’s most inspiring landscapes, and encourage veterans with disabilities to reflect on their past, recognize where they are in the present and then look to the future with a positive perspective. We do this in a spirit of camaraderie; where veterans, with a common, shared background, come together to support, encourage, and inspire each other.

The Gila Wilderness expedition was a great example. As the veterans trekked up the west fork of the river, they reflected on their past. Good times, bad times, friends remembered, successes and failures, being introspective about where they’ve been.

Walking out of Hells Hole Canyon, they left the past behind and shifted their focus to where they are in their lives today. They walked silently, taking the time to focus their thoughts on the present. What gives satisfaction? What would they change? Who do they turn to when we’re in crisis? Who’s on their rope team?

Gila Wilderness landscape

Along their journey, they found high points. High points that were emotional, mental, or physical. They came at five or ten thousand feet. The No Barriers Life curriculum encouraged the team to reach inside themselves for answers while the challenging terrain provided the reminder of what they could accomplish.

Over the final two days, as they turned towards the trailhead and home, each participant looked to the future. Our leaders encouraged them to take what they learned about themselves and set goals and pledge to do something meaningful after they return home. Emerging from Little Bear Canyon and looking out over the Gila Wilderness, they could envision a bright future.

No summit on the expedition. Lots of high points. Plenty of transformation. And that’s what it’s really all about. Changing veteran’s lives by reminding them that what’s within them is stronger than what’s in their way.

Over the next couple of months, follow along at as we reach a few summits and plenty of high points with our Warriors to Summit expedition series.