When we spoke with Maya Treuheit a few weeks before she and her father left for Mongolia on the Gobi Discovery expedition, she spoke of her anticipations.

Now she’s back in British Columbia and her evolution is striking.

Maya Treuheit Evolution

Maya and Kathy Davis, whose husband Nate rode a motorcycle, shared a UTV (side by side) and driving responsibilities. “It was a blast!” Maya said. “It felt like something out of Madd Max. The UTV kicked up more dust than the motorcycles so we usually rode last, in front of the sweep rider. We got to know who everyone was from behind — how they rode, and the gear they wore. Kathy and I shared many special moments and we’ll always be friends.”

Maya had planned to journal every day. She admits being so exhausted, she’d often jot down bullet points and finish a few notes in the morning. There was no time to formulate a lot of thoughts.

Before leaving, she’d looked forward to meeting the others on the trip. “They were wonderful. Leaving them was hard and I miss each one of them, all the time. I got to have special moments shared with individuals and the group.

Between the people on the trip, the riding, the landscape, and the Mongolian people, every day was a different kind of experience. “I didn’t expect to feel so exhausted but driving makes you tired. Every day had a week’s worth of adventure packed into it.

“The scenery was stunning, and we only got to experience a small part of it, mostly in the desert, a new landscape for me. Growing up beside the ocean, I’m not one for landlocked places but I learned to fall in love with the desert.”

Her concern about being so far from home was a non-issue, in part helped by a class outing for twelve days before leaving. Maya camped in British Columbia’s backcountry with classmates and no phone reception, not even sure she’d make it out of the bush in time to leave. “I went from one intense bonding experience to another, and you get to know yourself better in that kind of environment. By the time I reached Mongolia, I’d acclimated to being away and learned to make new meanings of home. You project a lot if you haven’t been somewhere. Mongolia didn’t feel like home, but wasn’t uncomfortable. I never felt homesick.”

Food was a challenge for Maya’s vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free diet. She’d brought lots of granola bars and “Piet and Rob (guides) went out of their way to make sure I was taken care of. The rest of the trip and the experiences were so incredible it didn’t detract from my adventure at all.”

In Part 1, Maya said, “Meeting and spending long stretches of time with people may be uneasy. I expect to learn a lot about myself in that respect and how to interact with others I don’t know.”

Both the backpacking and Gobi Discovery trip changed that dramatically. “My life became more interdependent, out of necessity. I realized I needed that interdependency. It was really nice to have people around all the time — seeing everyone for dinner, having a beer, and being present for our group’s breakfast. It was, however, a shock going from the isolated desert to the capital city at the end.”

In the challenging wilds of Mongolia, Maya even learned to ride a motorcycle. “What better place to learn?” she was asked. “There’s nothing to hit, it’s sand, and for every question I had, there were ten answers. It was special to have all of them with me on this experience.”

Nothing was as special as the time she had with her dad. “It was personal and very emotional. He thrives in this environment and it was really fun to see him in his element, to see that goofy part of him, and spend quality time together. We had a lot of fun. He’d come and ride his bike behind me as I practiced on mine, and shadow me as I went around in circles. It was amazing. Not many kids get to spend that kind of time with their parents, and do it that early in your life.”

Pre-departure Maya told us, “I’m really interested to see the evolution of myself from before to after the trip. It will become an integral part of who I am becoming and can only strengthen me.”

From British Columbia, she summed up her thoughts. “I feel an intangible shift that I can’t put into words, yet. It impacts me in my daily interactions with people and how I go about co-existing with others.”

Those words are a testament to the powerful evolution that happens when we stretch our comfort zone and open ourselves to new experiences. Thank you Maya!


Photo Credits: From the collection of Maya Treuheit