This testimony was found on the reddit message board. All rights goes the original author
In the mid-90s (my mid-teens), I was sent to the Catherine Freer wilderness program in Oregon in January. It was a grueling three week winter trek with bad equipment out in the mountains. They improperly fitted my snowshoes and the first night, I remember being strip searched then put in really old musty wool winter hiking gear. We were shuttled into trucks. Not like vans, but like a pickup truck with the plastic covering over the back and dropped off in the woods after dark. I remember trying to run away that first night and threatening it. They told me to go ahead and walk away, so I did and then one of the guys tackled me.
So, I spent 3 weeks out in the snow. It was pretty grueling. Our packs were probably about 50 lbs and we rotated dragging the supply sleds for a nightly fire pit. If you got that rotation, it was a rough day carrying at least 100lbs of gear. I remember one day that we had to make it over some ridge with a ridiculous slope to it. The guides told us that morning that we probably would only make a mile and half that day. It was a rough day. Imagine walking up an incline in snowshoes and heavy gear for 8 hours only to realize you made it about a mile.
I also remember having to wipe my ass with snow. It was zero impact type program and it was winter. It wasn't that big of deal because honestly, the quantity of food we had wasn't a lot, it was just super calorie dense. Another memory I have was walking into someone else's mid (tent without a bottom) and finding three people huffing the white gas we used with our cooking stove. This was the night before we finished the hike. I didn't partake. Not my thing.
It was grueling and I came out looking pretty skinny and smelled terrible. Five months later my parents put me in the Elan School for two years. I think the trauma of that has caused me to block out a lot of the feelings I had about Catherine Freer because three weeks is just a blip compared to two years. Elan closed in 2010. Catherine Freer closed in 2012 after three deaths. I read one was in Nevada. Honestly, I didn't know they operated there. I thought they were only in Oregon.
After leaving, I never spoke to anyone from that program ever again, guide or marchers. I once called their office trying to get a copy of my records, but they said they didn't keep them that far back.
3 teenagers died in this wilderness program before the owners took the profit and closed the program