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You are here: Home Wilderness Programs Ages 12 - 15 Mountain Quest: Coming of Age for Young Women

Mountain Quest: Coming of Age for Young Women

This journey of self-discovery builds confidence and clarity for emerging young women.

When Jun 30, 2019 09:00 AM to
Jul 13, 2019 05:00 PM
Where Olympic National Park; Program starts and ends in Bothell, Washington
Cost: $1975; deposit $400. Financial aid available.
Ages: 12-14
Taught by: Marisa Taborga Byrne, Gretchen Gerlach
Contact Name Cameron Withey
Contact Email
Contact Phone (425) 485.7396
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Parents please plan to attend the first and last days of the trip.

This journey of self-discovery builds confidence and clarity for emerging young women. 

"This trip has been life-changing. I have discovered so much about myself and this world that I live in. I was able to laugh, cry, scream, and transform into the best version of myself that I have ever been."

– 2016 Mountain Quest Participant

The Coming of Age Journey is a unique opportunity to celebrate and honor the changes of this time in a girl's life. Like thousands of women before her, she will be welcomed into the larger community with a fuller understanding of the creative and visionary power inherent in her gifts as a woman.

Developed over fifty years of work with hundreds of individuals, this program helps young women enter adolescence with strength and self-confidence. Girls speak their truth and believe in their worth based on talents, skills and interests rather than on appearance, popularity or sexual appeal. Participants are physically, emotionally and spiritually stretched as they set out on a multi-day backpacking trip and 24-hour solo vigil. The journey gives young women an extraordinary opportunity to challenge themselves as they move beyond self-imposed limitations, take on greater responsibility, and work cooperatively with others.

Set in the forests, mountains, and waterways of Western Washington, this program is designed to empower participants to recognize and walk in the truth of their own spirit. Laughter, sweat, creativity, reflection, and new friendships all come together for those who are willing to discover more about themselves and their unique contributions to the world.


Family Participation

The initiate’s family plays an important role in The Coming of Age Journey. On the first day of the trip, parents and guardians send their child off, then spend time exploring the changes that are occurring in their daughter and in their family.  At the conclusion of this 2-week adventure, parents and guardians take part in a program of incorporation. During this day-long event, parents and young people alike will have the opportunity to see one another with new eyes. Together in this way, they breathe new life into existing relationships, and explore the possibilities of what it means to be a family in the 21st century, with a new family member who is no longer a girl, but a young woman. 

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Financial aid may be available. Please visit our Scholarships page for more information.


2018 Staff

marisa bio pic

           Gretchen Bio Pic

          Marisa Taborga Byrne                           

              Gretchen Gerlach

Marisa ”Sasa” Taborga Byrne (she, her, hers) is a heart-centered humanitarian. Sasa comes from Irish/German, and Bolivian lineages and has loved many lands including California, Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, Argentina, Bolivia and Washington. She intimately knows the healing potential and wonder of Nature; her path as a ceremonialist, nature connection guide, and rites of passage facilitator was inspired in the Andes mountains, where she experienced soulful transformation living off the grid in an intentional community. In that place, she came to know the Pacha Mama as teacher, healer, guide and friend. Since that adventure 10 years ago, she has been committed to offering soulful inquiries in Nature through new and full moon ceremonies, coming of age programs and ceremonies, medicine walks, vision fasts, and holistic sexual education. Sasa joined Journeys as a Vision Fast guide in 2014, and in 2017, worked on the Leadership Intensive, Explorer’s Journey and Moon Rise programs. This youthful spirit loves to share in laughter, play, and heart connection, and is deeply honored and grateful for this opportunity to serve.

Gretchen "G" grew up on a dude ranch in rural Montana. While attending the church of the outdoors as regularly as possible, she developed a love and belief in the healing power of nature. The desire for wild places and magnificent nature lead her on travels around the world and the nation, and along the way she discovered passions for rock climbing, hiking, sustainable farming, and the ocean. It was not until 2015 when she began working in wilderness therapy in Hawaii was she introduced to Rites of Passage. After completing her own initiatory fast on the Big Island she chose to pursue this new interest with focus and attention. Since then, she has spent time fasting, training, assisting with School of Lost Boarders as well as Journeys. Currently, she is working on expanding her knowledge and experience of guiding Rites of Passage for youth and incorporating this knowledge into wilderness therapy programs in Alaska and Hawaii. This year G will be contributing to the Leadership Intensive as well as the Mountain Quest for young women. 

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