Four North Routt eighth-graders are ready to pedal their way into high school.
This year's graduating class at North Routt Community Charter School -- Alana White, Callie Swinsick, Jean Paul Mannon and Nathan Clark -- will take a 103-mile bike trip through Canyonlands National Park near Moab, Utah, this week, a trip that Head of School Colleen Poole called a "rite of passage" to prepare the students for what's ahead.
"We feel like it's something really important for the kids to do," Poole said Monday. "We're hoping that the trip will build some confidence and really help the kids with their transition into high school."
The students and four adults will ride the White Rim Trail, a hilly, scenic loop on dirt roads and doubletrack that GORP.com -- a popular outdoor adventure Web site -- says includes: "dark, forbidding canyons, towering redrock mesas and buttes, lazy desert rivers and an awesome canopy of stars." The group will camp at night and carry supplies in two vehicles.
Poole said they plan to leave early Wednesday morning and return Saturday afternoon. That leaves only two full days for riding, meaning the group might not have much time for lollygagging.
"We feel the physical challenges will build inner strength, and that leads to meeting challenges in real life," Poole said.
The students planned the trip, she added, down to what meals to eat and how much water to bring. Poole said this will be the first of an annual trip for departing eighth-graders at the school, which has an "expeditionary learning" philosophy geared toward hands-on, physical activities in the outdoors.
That applies to teachers as well as students -- Poole said she plans to be on a bike seat as much as possible during the trip.
"I'm not great at (biking), but I'm certainly going to try and ride most of the trail," she said. "I think it's going to be great for our kids. I'm really excited about it."