Integrated Options For Adolescents and College Age Students

As an educational consultant, I continue to work with adolescents and college age students, as well as their parents, from a variety of different vantage points.  My expertise in college and post-secondary school advising for students who have experienced any number of challenges and are working toward next steps often leads to my initial contact with new clients.

In turn, educational planning for students in my consulting practice is very much centered around an organic process built on rapport and insight into each individual’s path and road map to success.  Trek Epic, a non profit organization offering sponsored walking treks that I personally guide, is another great opportunity for students to explore and engage in their futures.  Students may also connect with Emerge for support and guidance as they take their next steps by enrolling in college, pursue Gap Year options, or look at a variety of additional options in their lives.

These components represent my personal and professional commitment to contribute in positive ways to the development and empowerment of students.  As the sequence goes: discover a path with Andrew Bryan get on trek with Trek Epic, and stay on track with Emerging Young Adults

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A Return to Offa’s Dyke Path in Wales for Trek Epic

Trek Epic will return to Offa’s Dyke Path in Wales – A Walk in Wales – from March 21st to March 30th during the Boise State University Spring Break week.  Students from around the country as well as those participating with Emerge will walk daily from village to village exploring the countryside and individual skills, talents, and gifts!

The treks are designed for young people to look at: What’s next in life?   What do I want out of life? What gifts do I have to contribute to this world? There is always a great mix of people and it is always a powerful and empowering experience.  And the best part, Trek Epic provides a scholarship for everyone who is accepted onto a trek! Students buy their airline ticket (or beg Mom and Dad to help) and the non-profit pays for all lodging and trek expenses along the way.  Trek Epic believes  young adults on the treks will “pay it forward” in life.

If you, your young adult child, or anyone else you know between 18-24 yrs old might be interested in this opportunity, please either contact me, or go to to learn more.

For Emerge students, the opportunity to extend the work we do week by week through the regular semester term is incredibly valuable as we work to set goals and intentions for the present and the future!


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The Core Gift Discovery Process

Emerge students, whether in Boise or elsewhere, have the opportunity to extend their young adult college experience with Epic Transitions, aka trekEpic, which provides young adults with an intercultural and internatinoal European style walking trek that broadens their horizons and promotes self-awareness as they gain the skills and confidence to discover and embark upon their own path.

Participants explore and articulate their skills, talents, influences and passages leading to the discovery of their Core Gift through the crafting of a powerful statement and an ongoing process which informs and motivates them to reflect, evolve and move forward.

As an example, Andrew Bryan’s Core Gift Statement is as follows:

My Core Gift is helping others to experience themselves with purposeful belonging.

I give it by helping them to integrate with others and the world around them in order to have forward momentum through creative change.



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Integrative Options for Young Adults

TrekEpic revives tradition of youth self-discovery through adventure, made affordable through foundation support

Educational Consultant Andrew Bryan integrates countryside treks with educational counseling, core gift process to guide young adults

For more information:

Martin Johncox, Alexander and Associates Public Relations Agency, 208-658-9100Andrew Bryan, 208-484-5835 ~ ~ Jan. 4, 2013


Believe it or not, the ancient practice of young people going on an adventure to “find themselves” is alive and well. It’s just been updated as part of life coaching for young adults.

TrekEpic, which currently provides walking tours in England, Scotland and Wales, is the latest project of educational consultant and social entrepreneur Andrew Bryan.

“Going on an adventure into the unknown was a rite of passage for young people throughout time, teaching them independence, team work, problem solving, discipline and initiative,” said Bryan, TrekEpic co-founder. “When a trek is coupled with competent guidance and the core gift discovery process, we can lead young people to find a direction in life and the initiative to follow it.”

TrekEpic, which provided three, ten-day walking tours of England and Wales to fourteen young people in 2012, is the culmination of 24 years of Bryan’s work helping young adults navigate difficult pasts, learning challenges and behavioral issues to become productive adults. Bryan made his name in the young adult transitions world by establishing the Emerge College Success Program and is well-known as an educational consultant; he also has previously completed a three-year term as a national board member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association.

“Everybody goes through a process several times in their life, where they have to find deep inner strength to get through a challenge – you hear about midlife crisis and it’s a similar transition from teenager to young adult,” said Kim Mlinarik, a therapist and international guide who has led several TrekEpic outings. “When they come out the other side of that challenge, they discover clarity and conviction they can use in their lives. We use the treks as that process.”

Treks are part of larger whole Bryan has been involved in youth coaching and teaching since 1989, starting in Seattle at college prep middle/high school for students with learning disabilities, then the Crossroads Learning Center and the Wholistic Health Options for Learning Effectiveness Program, as well as numerous other endeavors. Typical reasons for using Bryan’s services include Asperger’s, ADD/ADHD, family conflicts, lack of self esteem, depression, anxiety, drug/alcohol use, lack of motivation, immaturity or having a style of learning that doesn’t “fit the mold.” Bryan has been a Member of the Independent Education Consultants Association since 1998 and maintains numerous other professional memberships.

Since 1994, Bryan has been an educational consultant and planner, advising young people who need help with college selection, learning disabilities, therapeutic special needs school and program placement and the transition to independent adulthood. To fully implement his vision of educational consulting, he founded the Emerge College Success Program in 2005. Emerge is geared toward people just out of high school who want to go to college, but might need some additional oversight, tutoring and counseling to stay the course or older students restarting their college careers. Typically, Emerge students live in Boise, Idaho and enroll Boise State University, the College of Western Idaho or other school. Emerge life coaching includes visits, ongoing sessions, communication with parents, internships, volunteer and work opportunities.

“I see Emerge as a young adult transition process, not a program,” said Louise Slater, a South Carolina educational consultant who has referred clients to Bryan. “This process is highly individualized yet gives these young people enough structure to be successful, but without feeling they are in a ‘program’. “

Bryan co-founded TrekEpic in 2011 with Leslie Johnson and established it as a nonprofit, Epic Transitions.

“TrekEpic can work with Emerge so that we can provide a fully integrated set of services for young adults who need it,” said Bryan, who earned a Bachelor’s Degree in University Studies and General Honors from the University of New Mexico. “Students in Emerge may benefit from trekking or vice-versa.  The treks, however, are not just for Emerge students.  There have been a number of students who have participated in other support programs or who just need a seminal experience to help get their lives moving forward.

Bryan has become somewhat of a go-to person in the media for young adult issues. Bryan has been interviewed and quoted nationally on education related topics in The Seattle Times, The Lawlor Review, Post-Secondary LD Report, Newsweek, US News and World Report, The New York Times, CBS Marketplace, CBS Network Radio News, SmartMoney Magazine, KUOW’s Weekday, College Bound Teen and, most recently, LATalkRadio with Dore Frances. He also serves on the Baker 5J School District Board in Baker, Oregon, and has served on many volunteer, local government or nonprofit boards.

Leslie Johnson, a former special education teacher who co-founded TrekEpic, said trekking serves a vital function. Johnson’s son used Bryan’s educational consulting services but she sensed there was something more a program could offer.

“There are a lot of really amazing parents out there whose children struggle or lose their sense of direction and parents often need to seek guidance in helping their children move forward,” Johnson said. “Studies show that there is an increase in the number of young adults in the 18-24 age range who are unemployed and not going to school, who seem to lack direction.”

Johnson, Bryan and others began discussing what kind of transitional program might work well and the idea of a trek emerged. Johnson’s son participated in the first trek in Wales, in March, 2011 which didn’t have the Core Gift process and was more of a guided and contemplative tour. Nevertheless, Johnson said the experience transformed her son and was worth refining.

“It gave him time to reflect on where he had been and where he’s going and increased his empowerment and motivation,” Johnson said. “This was a great experience for us and I wanted to give back somehow, to help other parents in this position.”

Johnson approached her family’s foundation, the Hurlbut-Johnson Charitable Trust. The trust, administered by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, makes grants to cover initial development costs  (such as legal and insurance) and to pay staff and organizers. Sixteen trekkers participated in 2012, most of without having to pay program fees, although they still had to pay for their transportation and walking-around money.

TrekEpic has gone completely over to a grant model, so that none of the participants have to pay for program costs.  Johnson said helping a teen with counseling, treatment, tutoring and other services can be financially draining on families and granting the program costs makes the program more accessible. Second, the participants must apply for the trek and go through an approval process.

“It’s empowering that they can apply and get a grant apart from their parents and that makes them more vested in the process – it really is something each participant does for themself,” Johnson said.

TrekEpic makes a difference While Bryan has been able to improve the lives of hundreds of young adults in his career, he knew there was a missing component for some clients – something that could lead them to a sudden, life-changing discoveries to move them forward – and hit upon walking treks as a catalyst.

In 2009 and 2010, Bryan worked on an economic development project with Dr. Donald Chance, a former Virginia Tech professor, in Eastern Oregon to create a British-inspired walking trail as a tourist attraction. While that project hasn’t come to fruition, the idea stuck with Bryan. He conferred with Leslie Johnson and Dr. Chance and they saw a niche for a non-profit that offered something experiential and international. Eventually, they settled on the idea of walking treks. Bryan isn’t the first to offer treks in this manner; retired educational consultant David Denman used to take teens to walk on Mt. Blanc in Switzerland and several other businesses are offering treks. TrekEpic, however, is different because of its use of the Core Gift process, pioneered by organizational coach Bruce Anderson, to lead young people to a path of full adulthood.

“What’s unique about their treks is that they have incorporated the idea of finding and understanding each trekkers’ core gifts as part of their time together,” Anderson said.

The Core Gift method’s premise is that every person has the ability and desire to make contributions to the world around them, in the form of skills or gifts. There are gifts of wisdom, talent and passage and going through a difficult life experience develops a “core gift” that each person specializes in. During the treks, counselors lead participants through an interview process to discover their Core Gift. The participants are expected to work with each other on the discovery and development of the gift, whether they’re walking, having a meal or sitting around a campfire.

Hugh Camp, 21, went on an English trek in August 2012. He was studying at the University of Virginia and withdrew because he wasn’t able to focus. An educational consultant referred him to Bryan, who enrolled Camp in Emerge and later recommended Camp for TrekEpic. Camp is now studying at Boise State University to become a mechanical engineer.

“It’s a great feeling of accomplishment when you see a mountain range off on the horizon and at the end of the day you’re at the bottom of the mountains,” Camp said. “Everyone is looking for some kind of self improvement at some level. A trek is a difficult accomplishment but it’s attainable at the same time.”

According to Camp, a typical Core Gift exercise involved everyone going through a list of questions, such as naming influential people and their values, honesty and strong points. Participants then wrote down the answers and sorted those into different piles and look for themes.

“You see things you maybe knew about yourself but weren’t able to articulate. It really helped in identifying things you were good at and could be proud of – your gift,” Camp said. “Mine was about spreading positive attitudes and thoughtful conversation. The gift process allows you to condense that in a few sentences and when you know something like that, just being conscious of it helps you act on it more.”

Typically, participants walk from town to town, sleeping in bunkhouses, hostels or bed and breakfasts and occasionally exploring the country towns during the day, putting in up to 12 miles a day in walking.

“The trek opened my eyes and made me feel a lot more excited for my future and what I can do,” said Ryan Hickey, 21, who went on a 100-mile walk in Wales in 2012. “The trek helped me see the world has so much to offer and I got a glimpse of it. It jump-started my life.”

Hickey is currently enrolled in a culinary arts program at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon to become a chef. But he wasn’t consciously thinking about that career before the trek.

“During the trek, we would all talk about our lives and what we’d like to do. Everyone encouraged everyone else to find something that mattered to them,” Hickey said. “We talked about me cooking and developed that more and found my goal is to help people enjoy food they haven’t tried before.”

Hickey said his life had no direction and social anxiety made it difficult for him to move forward.

“Before the trek, I wasn’t doing anything with my life – I didn’t have a job and I wasn’t going to school,” Hickey said. “I really wanted to get out in the world and experience some of it. I don’t know if I’ve ever been that exhausted, but when you cover that much distance you feel like you’ve accomplished something.”

Camp agreed, saying that being in such a different place, coupled with the exertion of the trek, definitely made an impression.

“It felt good to get out there and do something that was challenging and that I could manage,” Camp said. “All the walking puts you in a mental state where you’re teetering between exhaustion and euphoria and it contributes to group communication.”

That feeling is crucial to the success of the program, said Kim Mlinarik, whom Bryan hired to lead three TrekEpic walks. Mlinarik said they could hold treks in the United States, but the experience depends on removing participants from what is familiar to them; unfamiliarity forces participants to step into an unknown phase of life and hiking is a good metaphor for that transition. Mlinarik is developing her own international treks and she and Bryan regularly refer clients back and forth.

“Any time you are faced with the unknown, it brings up anxiety and fear and your belief system gets stirred up,” Mlinarik said. “It allows the shift in perceptions to happen on the external cultural level to break down the barriers internally. In doing this, they discover strength maybe they didn’t know they had.”

One of her main goals during a trek is to help participants discover their passions and think about careers that would allow them to pursue those passions. But first, their barriers to self-discovery must be broken down. This process is useful for addressing a common issue known as “failure to launch,” where people cannot take the next step to create their future.

“They get stuck and paralyzed and stagnant. We had a young man like that in March – he had never left the country and had a lot of anxiety and got injured early on in the trip,” Mlinarik said. “It led him to open up emotionally and be vulnerable to others and that led him to reevaluate some of the other choices he made in his life and how to overcome things. He had kept himself sheltered and it allowed him to make some shifts and plan for the future.”

Other times, young adults have been so busy following their parents’ blueprint, or rebelling against it, that they neglected to discover their own passions. Or they may have limiting beliefs.

“They might think, ‘I’m not going to be successful or I’m not going to be capable’ and we help them find the clarity within themselves to overcome limiting beliefs that hold them back,” Mlinarik said. “The physical challenge of hiking so much stirs up emotional issues, so putting one foot in front of the other is the same as going to college or starting a job in that you have to persist.”

At the end of the trek, students must consider how they will apply and develop their gift. Since the students don’t have to pay program costs, they are asked to do 20 hours of volunteer service in an area that will put their gift to use in some way.

As a fellow education educational consultant, Slater has used Bryan’s companies for a variety of purposes. Slater’s own son Luke went on a TrekEpic trip in 2012.

“Luke said the best part about TrekEpic was the time he spent with adults while literally walking side-by-side,” Slater said. “The trek helped him to slow down and take the time to make some decisions about what he needed to do to put his life in a more positive direction.”

Slater has also referred one client to TrekEpic, who then enrolled in the Emerge program. While in Emerge, the student has gotten a job, is re-taking and passing college classes he had previously failed and even tutoring a high school student. Slater said the trek was the catalyst for the student to put his life back on track.

“This particular student struggled with social anxiety, so it was not easy to get him to make the decision to go on the trek,” Slater said. “Once he did, he called his mother and told her how great the trip was and how much he was enjoying the people on the trek. The trek became a launching point for him to consider using Emerge.”

What’s next

Currently, Epic Transitions is able to fund about 30 participants a year, but could expand to provide more treks if demand increases and if additional donors come forward, Johnson said.  The organization is now working on expanding its fundraising and donor efforts to help sustain the organization and expand the trekking opportunities for young adults.

Mlinarik is so convinced of the ability of Bryan’s methods that she is now starting her own trekking company with plans to lead walks in Scotland, Italy, Thailand, Costa Rica, Spain and England. Instead of viewing Mlinarik as a competitor, Bryan has been helping her get established.

“That’s the magic of Andrew Bryan,” Mlinarik said. “There’s a small group of us in the industry that’s doing this cultural immersion and Andrew is very much a collaborative force. He’s been above and beyond in being helpful.”

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What Support Does Emerge Provide – An Email to a Parent

I sent the following email to a parent this afternoon in response to a question about what the Emerge student support services look like over the course of a week.  For those just looking at Emerge this can give you a sense of our work!

_____ there is a basic calendar at the bottom of the blog page at as a basic example.  The goal for students is to create “touch points” throughout the week, such that each day, more or less, a student has engaged in some manner with Emerge or those is support roles related to Emerge.  I work with students up front to customize their schedule and course selection, as well as making sure there is some balance coming into a term, including internships, work, volunteering, and other activities.

Typically, I meet with students on Mondays and review their status, look at the big picture and what resources they need to tap into, problem solve, assess how they are doing, and specifically review their classes with them from an academic management standpoint.  I have access to the university’s online portal with their username and password, so we review in the session, but I also check in throughout the week, including weekends, with course assignments, announcements, quiz postings etc… and then usually text reminders and updates… basically keeping a constant line of communication with the student throughout the week. 

Students then meet with Lois Gates, as life coach, on either Tuesdays or Wednesdays to set goals and work on following through… this includes social and personal aspects of being a college student.  Students then meet in a group setting on Thursday evenings, we call this a problem solving group, not therapeutic per se, but taking a look at some basics…  “I didn’t go to class”  or “missed my quiz online” or “I want to get involved in intramural sports but am anxious” – in addition I arrange for students to work with a tutor/mentor once or twice a week depending on their course load and challenges, this could be more content area oriented, or perhaps more executive function focused… Beyond these core pieces, there are others who pitch in, always in a practical sense, but with an eye on how a student is doing, building some rapport and mentoring… this could be the woman that will drive students places they need to be if they don’t have a car… or someone in an internship or work environment we are able to set a student up with!!!

Through all of the work with students, I remain available to parents on an “on-call” basis, and with weekly updates, that is as long as I have the young adult’s consent :) .  

Parent questions and concerns are usually different than a student’s so we work to make sure everyone is a part of the process.  As I tell students, remember, this is about  you, but your parents are part of the program as well!

Sometime during a student’s Emerge experience we hope they are able to also walk with us on a trekEpic trek in Great Britain!  All these interaction help students really take charge of the present and their future!


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Educational Consultants Visit and Describe Emerge: Boise

by May Peach and Louise Slater at The Price Group

Emerge is a supportive model that helps integrate a young adult into Boise and help them create their own peer group. There are no residences for the Emerge clients, but most of them stay in an apartment that is a single or double. Part of what makes Emerge an attractive offering is that is a “program that is not a program”!  Students who work with Andrew and his team work to create their own very individualized success plan.  One part of the success of Emerge is that the Boise State University community and surrounding area are great places to live and work.  The community is very health conscious and exercise conscious.  There is a very high concentration of engineers, scientists and other professionals, and most people are avid bikers, hikers, or snowboarders.  Boise also has a very vibrant arts and music community and the college itself has many different clubs and activities to help a student begin to connect within the larger college community.

Emerge’s core model is based on “Supervision, Structure, Support = Sustainability.”  Most of the students who work with Emerge have experienced a poor success rate in their previous attempts at college.  Andrew Bryan helps them by starting with a fairly high level of supervision that he calls “touch points”.  What this means is that, without being intrusive, Andrew makes opportunities to connect, as much as four times a week with students on an informal basis.  For instance, Andrew meets with the students on Mondays to mentor and to talk about their academics, and then his colleague Lois Gates, life coach and addictions counselor, either sees them on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in the evenings or has other staff that connects informally through different activities.  Thursday night is a “problem solving” group that helps the students work through any problems with college, as a group.  Some students struggle with learning disabilities, and for these students, Andrew coordinates a tutor if needed and helps them connect with the college disability office for specific accommodations.

In order to be in Emerge, a student typically will allow Andrew access to his records at either the community college or University.  Once the student begins to have a more regular schedule and structure from which to organize his/her life, Andrew’s job becomes less of supervision and more of a support role.  The structure is then created for the student through the classes, extracurricular activities, and internships or jobs.  If necessary, Andrew will help a student connect to a licensed counselor, or a psychiatrist for medication management or drug and alcohol counseling.  Once the student begins to gain traction and success, Andrew’s level of supervision tapers and the relationship shifts to one of more support and maintenance.  The ultimate goal of Emerge is to help the student learn to navigate and support themselves with a minimum level of supervision and support.


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Emerge in the Fall of 2012

College bound students who do not quite yet know their plans for the fall, but want to start or re-start on a dynamic four year campus like Boise State University or who want to live in a great city like Boise and keep working toward their degree through the College of Western Idaho are able to apply through June 30th for full time admission or part time as non-matriculating students.  The Emerge program offers support for students and young adults who are ready to live independently but would like access to advisers who can help keep them motivated and on track!  In addition to classes, work, and/or internship schedules, a typical schedule with Emerge for students looks like the calendar at the end of this web page!

As an example, students participate in a Monday academic management session, a Wednesday college life coaching session, and a problem solving group on Thursday evenings.  Additionally, we coordinate what we term touchpoints for students throughout the week depending on their interests and needs, this may involve working with a personal trainer for fitness, seeing an academic tutor for content area support, or spending time with a peer mentor.  Emerge is designed for young adults who are ready to transition from supervision and the structure of home or residential environments and want to find balance in pursuing college or career academics, social activity, and work or volunteering with some guidance and support.  Simply put, Emerge, take steps forward, and follow your path!

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Young Adult Students Reflect, Evolve, and Move Forward

With a week of walking in Wales having come to a close, now begins to focus on August treks in the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales in Northern England as well as custom international walks for young adult transition programs, educational consultants and their clients, and parents who need time for renewal and their own self-discovery!

With Kim Mlinarik as guide, these college students dedicated their spring break week to exploring  a new culture, the experience of walking across a country, and their future paths.  They moved through a mystical landscape, shifting back and forth from the metaphors of the trail to literally taking next steps!  Having reflected and evolved more than might be expected in such a short time, the participants on Offa’s Dyke Path trek now move forward, continuing to emerge as young adults in pursuit of college, careers, dreams and goals, but, most of all, authentic lives.


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What Happens After After Care? College/Treks/Life!

My educational consulting practice encompasses a wide range of options: Boarding Schools, Therapeutic Programs,  College Advising, Gap Year and Post-Graduate Year options, and support for students attending college or wanting to return to their studies.  In each instance, my focus is always on the process a student and their family experience, looking at a variety of creative options, opening a world of possibilities unique to each situation.

Over time I have developed services specific to the needs of students who have experienced emotional, behavioral, and/or learning challenges.  The overriding question I am constantly seeking to answer through these options is what level of support do students need after they have graduated from higher levels of supervision and structure.  This is to say:  what happens after after care for students who have had previous therapeutic program experiences?  Or, what are the components of a successful transition from high school to college, or when a young adult is relaunching after struggling in college?  Emerge has been a model for support for these students through academic management, mentoring, life coaching, and problem solving.  The creation of Epic Transitions, aka , is another step in developing answers to these questions.  Each international walking trek is designed to help young adults regain or maintain their momentum as they reach for and better define their goals.  As I work to contribute to the lives of students and their families, I recognize the potential “Epic’s” core values can hold for us all:  Reflect, Evolve, Move Forward

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trekEpic’s epic trek!

Offa’s Dyke Path Trek!
March 22nd, Thursday Fly to London, England (Depart on the afternoon of Thursday and land in London in the early to mid-morning of Friday)
March 23rd, Friday London Heathrow Airport to the Town of Hay-on-Wey (the bookstores town) by pre-arranged transportation (2 hours). People should arrive at the town by early afternoon.
March 24th, Saturday Orientation day in the town of Knighton after short shuttle ride, with afternoon session and guest speaker at the Offa’s Dyke Museum.
March 25th, Sunday Start our trek from Knighton to Cwm
The day begins with a climb to the top of Panpunton Hill and a terrific view back down into the valley.
March 26th, Monday Cwm to Buttington
The going is easy over flat terrain, but lovely farming country nonetheless.
March 27th, Tuesday Buttington to Llanymynech
From Buttington we follow a stretch of the Montgomery Canal towpath ending at the Pool Quay locks.
March 28th, Wednesday Llanymynech to Craignant
There’s a short climb and then descent into Trefonen.
March 29th, Thursday Craignant to Llangollen
Back to the gentle hills here, culminating in a distant view of Chirk Castle.
March 30th, Friday Llangollen/Castell Dinas to Clwyd Gate/Rufin
From here, the trail leads around the mountains on narrow paths. A descent into Llangdela, a residential village.
March 31st, Saturday Rufin/Clwyd Gate to Bodfari
This is a day of extraordinary views. From the Jubilee Monument atop Moel Fammau, it’s possible to see the end of the journey, the Irish Sea.
April 1st, Sunday Return to London by pre-arranged transportation (1 hour) for flights departing in the morning and arriving in the states in the evening.
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