Brittany-guest blog once again! Today’s post is about survival. As some of you may know my father went on a bit of a survival trip (and for those that know the story it’s quite comical-at least now it is) to Hoosier National forest that didn’t end according to plan. This was brought on by a combination of scenarios- among which include a slew of movies involving survival like 127 Hours, Buried, and Sanctum. Not to forget his innate love for nature and past solo adventures into the great outdoors. The past year I’ve gravitated towards the outdoors. Growing up there was always that niche there as I come from a family of hunters and outdoorsy folk (although I was somewhat prissy and reluctant to it before). The past summer I started hiking with Dad and I picked up hunting as something I’ve done with not only, Dad, but the Cliffs (my grandpa and my brother are both named Cliff). Part of this came from research for work, with all of my studying on primal/paleo eating. The more I studied hunter-gatherers, the more I wanted to see how it was to live that way. A life where you lived by instinct and adaptions; eating how our brains evolved over time. So the eating aspect was already there-natural foods and eventually eating things that I killed and butchered myself (which I have to say not only feels rewarding, but I feel better because I know where my food is coming from and its more humane than how livestock animals are raised today, plus its great family bonding). The next step came when I read Change Your Thoughts Change Your Life by Dr. Dyer. Reading the Tao it became relevent that needing and excess go against these principles and a yearning to become closer to nature and my Source. Bring in the next chapter of the saga- Walden. I began reading the classic masterpiece and this just reiterated simplify, simplify! The next book Between a Rock and a Hard Place, the basis for 127 Hours (which I am still reading).After a discussion with my father last week I decided that I would do the same nature camping trip as my father. Friday I stayed at their house and packed all of my hiking essentials: tent, sleeping bag, alternative clothes, 2 dozen eggs, etc. The next morning I headed off on my first solo backpacking trip. After a three-hour drive I arrived at Mogan Ridge in the Hoosier National Forest. I went in with no expectations- as feelings of excitement can lead to disappointment, so I went in just to experience nature. Sure it was raining, but that is part of the outdoors, a little sprinkle isn’t going to harm me. I do admit that initially I had a hard time fighting off my usual judgements. All I could think about was that the pack was to too tall and I couldn’t lift my head completely without bumping my head and that the weight of the pack was not pleasurable. After a mile in, and I’d calm and recentered myself I readjusted the pack, put a smile on my face and went on. It seemed like a while, but I found the site that Dad had camped at a few weeks before. I started to set up my camp (I admit that I struggled putting up the tent initially, but once I found the directions it was cake). It wasn’t cold enough, so no fire was
required (thank goodness cause there was no dry wood). I settled in to the tent, as dark was approaching, reading the Aron Ralston book (which I admit that him contemplating chopping his arm off, in a unseeming situation was probably not the best choice right before dark in the wilderness all by myself, with no cell service). Again when I went to sleep, some of my old prejudices came back. Here I am outdoors, a place that should be safe and natural, but my imagination had already run away. I know that in the rain at night in rural Indiana, five miles in that there really aren’t creepers out looking to prey on young girls camping on their own (but still it takes a few minutes to get this out of my head). I breathe and calm myself. Listening to the stream running right below my campsite is calming and the only other noise I hear is the wind whistling in the trees. I end up sleeping eight to ten hours, but this is still restless since I have to pee and I didn’t want to put my other pants and boots on to go outside in the dark, because I’d never be able to sleep again. How screwed up is this that, the one place we should be able to find solace and welcome and I was feeling afraid and unsure? I feel like we’ve lost our natural instincts and adaptability. Sure we’ve created all these great technologies and learned a lot, but has it really made us better people, or improved the quality of life. Medicine has excelled and we’re able to live longer because of it, but we’re living longer lives that usually end some form of
modern disease (often caused by eating and lifestyle choices). How many people do you hear of that just die because they were old and not because they had Alzheimer’s, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, or died of complications brought on by excess weight and not controlling nature. We’re eating crap-that’s what processed food is- they’re not natural. They’re aren’t twinkies or bread growing on trees and you’re not able to kill it. We have our cozy homes with heat and electricity so that we’re able to live in a perpetual summer and daytime lifestyle. Sleep, who cares about that when we have light to keep us up all night so that we can do more work because our cortisol levels aren’t elevated enough from our overly-scheduled lives and need for chronic cardio in failed attempts to be skinny rather than to be healthy and enhance the quality of life. When the ice storm hit and people were out of power, what did people do? Sometimes being without or having less makes you realize what you really have. How many could honestly go out in the wilderness and make it though. Today’s pampered kids with all their gadgets (video games and cells) would have no clue. First they might be offended by the mud and dirt because thinks today need to be spick and span (is this good for flora though? I think if kids wouldn’t be so sick if their flora was able to flourish rather than be sanitized every time they touched something). Could they set up a tent? What about a fire? Could they manage to sleep in their sleeping? Would they even be able to make the hike? I don’t even think that most would be able to hike to their camping spot because overweight and obesity rates are beyond grotesque! That is truly sad. In the world, in primal times these people would be dead. How are you going to escape a ferocious tiger with a big belly in the way, and when you get winded less than a quarter of a mile in? All we’ve managed to do is trying to control nature, and everything around us for that matter (just look at those poor domesticated dogs and cats, who don’t get cancer in nature but now they’re subject to our modern diseases because they are products of us). We conquer rather than adapt. We’re not healthier or happier, depression seems to be everywhere. Thoughts like these kept me calm- to realize how fortunate I am to have a family that for starters encouraged my journey and who support any endeavors that I have. Also that they have instilled in me a desire for wellness, not some superficial desire to be skinny, but to nourish myself so that we can all grow old together, not worrying about someone getting cancer treatments or not remembering us because they have Alzheimer’s. We workout together and nature is just a part of our life. Summer hikes with my Dad and sometimes my Mom, are some of my best memories last summer. This summer we’re all going hiking and camping in Colorado. That is quality family time! I reassure myself that this experiment is what Dad says will make me tough, and it’s necessary. It’s raining, so what, that’s what happens in the wilderness and I can’t get upset over things that are beyond my control. With this I woke up in good spirits. I woke as the sun was coming up (as nature intends as my serotonin levels were up and my hormone levels restored) over the treetops, ate my eggs (which actually food and eating was the furthest thing from my mind, I actually didn’t want to eat. I realized why our ancestors didn’t gorge themselves, I would have felt weighed down, plus the back was already putting pressure on my stomach, so a bloated midsection would just make for an uncomfortable hike out), and packed up my camp. I had no clue what time it was, but set off at an easy pace in no hurry to hike back-actually passing another climber on the way. The walk was great! I was recentered and calm. I’ve read that forest bathing can improve mood just by 5
minutes of it, and starting out my days in the wilderness is the best mood booster. This time not thinking about the pack or the weight. Not having to worry how I look with no make-up on and my hair an untamed mess. I realize that here there are often expectations of how we should look, behave, and live. My roommate writes my trip off as another crazy Brittany idea. But really what’s the excepted life is one with abundance and a perpetual need for more an excess (having the next electronic toy and a bigger house than our neighbors). I’m 23, so to most this means I should be settling into a money-making career, saving for a house, and contemplating marriage and kids eventually. Hiking in the woods I realize that none of these are important and being in this moment, in this world is what is important no, not what society deems necessary for me to be doing. Like Dr. Dyer says: ‘Learn to think in moments, rather, moments rather than days, weeks, months, years decades or a lifetime. all we ever get is right now-that’s it. We must avoid inclination to magnify tiny events or worry about a future that may never arrive. I went into the forest prejudice and effected by societal expectations. I left revived and alive after a night in the woods closer to my Source! I’m ready for the next adventure (Yosemite, possibly?)!