For over 80 years, Wasatch Academy has kicked off the school year with an all-school hike. This year was no different and on September 8, 2018, students woke early to begin the 14-mile round-trip trek up the Canal Canyon trail to reach the summit of Horseshoe Mountain in the Manti-LaSal National Forest. For some students, the goal is to be the first to the top, while for others (especially those coming from sea level) simply hiking for a couple of hours at 6,000 feet and higher is an accomplishment.
As in many other years, reaching the top of the mountain was accomplished by many students during the all-school hike. This year, 135 Wasatch Academy students pushed their minds and bodies and reached the Horseshoe Mountain 11,000 ft summit.
Prior to 2013, students climbed Mt. Nebo for the all-school hike. However, the school has grown to a point where the tradition had to be adapted to accommodate the 330-plus students and reduce the impact on the habitat and environment. School officials decided in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service to shift the all-school hike to Horseshoe Mountain. “Students help clean-up the trail while hiking, and we always strive to leave it in better shape than when we started,” states Dr. Joel Barnes Wasatch Academy’s Director of Sustainability and Experiential Education.
“The hike stands as a metaphor and builds a strong sense of community. Everyone sets goals for the academic year that are challenging, yet realistic and attainable. Everyone challenges themselves to hike as far as they can, remembering that it’s not just about how far up the mountain they get, it’s also about their attitude, style, and helping others to reach their goals,” said Barnes.
The tradition reflects a commitment by Wasatch Academy to sustainability and community. The school utilizes Utah’s exceptional outdoor recreation in a wide variety of ways and actively seeks ways to preserve those resources for future generations.