February 9th marked the first day of our much anticipated solos. Our journey consisted of a four day and three night experience spent alone in a confined section of the Cascabel Hermitage in the San Pedro River watershed of Arizona. The Cascabel Conservation Association is the caretaker and protector of this land, preserving it to provide hermitage for a meditative retreat to the anyone who wants. These solos can last from two days up to 60 days. The land there is under significant threat from development and the reflections and testimonies of past Mountain Classroom students are important in justifying the conservation easements.
We were full of feelings of great excitement, mixed with slight anxiety as the day finally arrived. For our solos we were all given our own personal washes, well-separated from each other. A colored bandana system was used to check in on us, without ruining the experience. We were also given whistles in case there were any immediate emergencies. Along with those safety systems we were also given water, and were responsible for proving ourselves with the proper amount of food.
While alone, many of us faced the struggles of getting stir crazy, but as we adjusted we calmed down and spent much time simply in deep thought. From an outside point of view sitting and thinking might seem boring, but it is actually very enjoyable, and is important when focusing and reflecting on yourself. This time was extremely different, because instead of focusing on our entire group, we focused on only ourselves. Another unique aspect of the solo was how we got to apply our expedition skills such as first aid, sun care and proper hydration at our own discretion.
Please note: Viewer Discretion is advised in the following images of us coming off our solos! The desert worked its way onto, and into, our bodies during those four days!
“Perfect occasion to get to know myself better.”-Luca D.
"Rarely does one get the opportunity in which they can solely focus on their own needs and not tend to the needs or wants of others. IF YA DONT WEAR YOUR SUNSCREEN YA GONN GET BURNT!”-Thaddeus B.
“My solo was invigorating as well as tranquil. This was the first time on Mountain when I was only responsible for myself. -Isabella E.
“When the voice in your head melts away, you’d be amazed how beautiful the grass in the wind or a surprise visit from a chirping bird can be.” -Elias P.