Sunday, February 1, 2009


I found that my life was being overwhelmed by the noise of everyday life. It seemed to me that it was difficult to get a quiet moment to think—I mean really think. So I decided to remedy this by going to the mountains by myself. I thought it would give me a great chance to really clear my head, and I certainly seem to have done that. Let me tell you a little bit about how this went down.

I left Monday about noon. I backpacked up Rock Canyon with the heaviest backpack I have ever carried. I was doing well for a little while because others had walked on the trail recently. However, at the Squaw Peak turnoff I was left to blaze my own trail through the two and a half feet of fresh powder. It was hard going. I was sinking in the snow about a foot and a half with many of my steps. In addition to the snow on the trail there was plenty of snow on the tree branches. The trees were bending over the trail so much that I had to use my walking stick to get the snow off the trees. Sometimes I thought I could make it under them and my backpack would hit the branches and all the snow would dump on me. It seemed like I had 50 pounds of snow dumped on me on this part of the trail.

It is easy to look back on a hike in the past and think that it wasn’t really as hard as I thought it was. However, I brought a camera and recorded myself talking to it like Survivorman. When I listen to the recordings I sound progressively more and more depressed as I go on. It was hard to figure out what was the right trail because it was all fresh powder and there were trees hanging over the trail. I have been on that trail so many times that I think I was able to guess right enough times to make so I didn’t have to backtrack. The last hour of my hike was in the fading light or just plain dark. I was so exhausted that I would hike for a minute and rest for a minute. It came to the point where at the end I would walk ten steps and rest for a minute. It was hard going, but I finally made it to the campground.

Once I was to where I wanted to be I set up the tent quickly and started my camp stove. I made some hot chocolate while I put on some more warm cloths. Then I cooked my frozen piece of chicken over the stove which took a very long time in the freezing weather. I finally consumed all of the chicken and I got my dry clothes on and got in my sleeping bags. Yes I did bring two of them plus a fleece liner. I didn’t want to freeze all night. I went to sleep for a couple of hours then woke up and couldn’t get to sleep until probably 5 or 6 am. I just laid in my bags and thought and thought and thought. I was great to have perfect silence and just have my head clear.

The next morning I woke up and took my time to get out of bed. It made it easy that the sun was shining and the air was much warmer than usual. I decided my project for the day was to build a fire. I needed wood first. There was at least five feet of snow so that made collecting snow much harder. I knew that at the campground where I was there was cut firewood somewhere for the campers. So I went to various mounds and dug to the bottom to see if I could find wood that I could burn. On the fifth mound I found a great treasure of cut firewood. I spent an hour digging it up and transporting it back to my camp. For those of you that think I am a wimp I want to see how long it takes you to dig through five feet of snow with the bottom three feet being frozen. It takes a little while.

I then dug a fire pit at my camp. This also took a little while because I wanted it right. After I had gathered a little kindling it was then time for me to start a fire. I used flint and steel to ignite newspaper, and then I set up a lean-to with crumpled up newspaper and small twigs. I could not get the twigs to stay on fire. I tried again and again. I used different twigs and tried to get anything to sustain a flame. The twigs would not burn. As a last resort I even used my camp stove to try to ignite some twigs for the fire. Each piece of wood I put on the stove took almost a minute until it was actually on fire. I had never dealt with anything that frozen before. After the sun had been behind the mountain for about an hour I finally decided that it was important that I got warm and quick. I went in the tent and got dry and got in my sleeping bags. This is when I got my best thinking done. I really had hours to think and read and cry. Once I felt that I had worked through everything and my head was clear I went to sleep.

I woke up early in the morning and packed up quickly. I flew down the trail. There were several spots where I was running even though my legs were so sore from the ascent. I got home and took a long shower and a nap. Since that day I think my life has been clearer. I feel like I have a greater view of where I need to be going. I am very excited about my future and my life. I think that it only took a couple of nights in the mountains for me to be reminded how to listen. There is great reason to believe that maybe this year will be better than the last.


Dave said...

Wow. I need to do something like this.

ted said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff said...

I'm glad that your trip was productive. I'm glad that it brought you some clarity and also that you didn't die.

On a more morbid note, when you were talking about how you had talked to your camera like survivorman I was thinking about how those recordings would be all over youtube and the news and stuff if you died. And people would be speculating about what drove you to go out there and the news would eat it up. It would have been very interesting. But I'm glad you lived.

By the way, the above comment was me but I was logged in as my dad cause I'm at his house. Sorry about that.

Robyn said...

I'm glad you are back and feeling clear! Nature really is amazing! I can't wait for it to start warming up (I'm not as hard core as you are) so I can spend a little more time outside enjoying it's beauty.

Kayli said...

You're welcome for my camera. :) I'm looking forward to the unveiling of the videos...if there ever is one. And thanks for not dying; we would miss you too much!

Pete said...

Jared, you need to come watch Into the Wild with me. You would love it.