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HIKER7s
12-04-2007, 10:39
HOW and where and why do you think you have become a hiker or an outdoor wanderer? What where the conditions and how did it evolve you.



Years ago, I mean I was in the fourth grade. I went on a fishing outing with my grandfather to the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. That one trip, that weekend, I look at as the beginning of a lifelong urge to be within a wilderness or to just be able to wander through it.
Shortly thereafter I read a book called Trap Lines North by Stephen W Meader. (I helped create the site for it at http://traplinesnorth.tripod.com/ (http://traplinesnorth.tripod.com/). This book, a true story in that it followed a real trapping family through its existence in the early and mid thirties in northern central Ontario, was totally in the wilderness. I was hooked.
:banana

More books and more knowledge of the like and eventually long distance trails followed. I was determined that whatever the situation I would do the AT. In March of 78 (after already years of hiking the AT in PA and NJ) I began my thru hike in Georgia and although I was awed at the challenge I submersed myself in it. It took a couple hundred miles but I am glad I got into the mindset of "hiking my own hike". This way, I met many people and made many new friends AND was still was able to make my hike a solitary and rewarding accomplishment.



I kinda came of age however in the years since. I have hiked the AT again since, in sections. I finished my section hike in 2001. I have done parts of the PCT in Oregon, walked the Patagonian Landscape, Done the Long Trail
and many other hikes to numerous to mention and in several different countries (thanks to the US Navy).


I have evolved into this person who believes "church" is "out there".
I can’t go a month without getting gone for a weekend or so. I believe that the peace that I (we?)find in these endeavors directly affects how we do life, how we view life. You look at the whole spectrum of the way people perceive us. Did you ever get the comment “you’re crazy” doing this or that geared to being where we want to be “out there”.











There are people who we all know who will fuss about a meal or a guest bed done properly for the night or if their eggs are well done. The one’s who run from the car to the door in the light rain so they wont get wet for 5 seconds. How about the ones who speak of their doom in a thunderstorm or give you (the classic) the "your nuts" look when you say you've hiked 2100 miles in 6 months or have just kayaked a great length of some river. I love the way we look to some people simply because we represent (to them) an oddity because they can’t fathom why we do this and are so happy about it.


I volunteer for a local nature center and do two or three trips a year teaching LNT and backpacking/camping skills to mostly novice adults. I like to bring others to have some kind of appreciation to what WE do all the time. If I have to endure some of the wining that goes on sometimes about sleeping on the ground, eating from the pot, walking with a backpack, their boots hurt, etc. I do it because for everyone who ends up being the complainer I will get 4 or 5 who end up thanking me and even touch base to tell me about the later hikes they had done.

As far as a definition of the thru-hike, I have always held that slack packing and yellow blazing are cheating a little. Snow, rock or otherwise blocked passages with an alternate route are clearly the exception. The completion of the
Hike if it’s a national scenic trail or a formally routed trail, to me is every-step, passing every inch of the trail as defined at the time of your hike. Trailblazing is another thing- pick your points of interest and plot a plan. Those are the best hikes, challenge your wilderness capabilities.

:jump

Lone Wolf
12-04-2007, 10:41
i was born this way. i'm blue-blazing life

Tipi Walter
12-04-2007, 11:35
I'd say we share some things in common, along with a certain group of people who hold their church to be Nature. Robert Service comes to mind:

www.internal.org/view_poem.phtml?poemID=305 (http://www.internal.org/view_poem.phtml?poemID=305)

www.internal.org./view_poem.phtml?poemID=295 (http://www.internal.org./view_poem.phtml?poemID=295)

Some of his short snippets:

"I was once, I declare, a Stone-age man,
And I roamed in the cool of a cave . . ."

Or
"To pitch my tent with no prosy plan,
To range and to change at will . . ."

And of course the most famous:
"There's a race of men that don't fit in,
A race that can't stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain's crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don't know how to rest."

I agree with LW, I was born 'this way", a nature-boy, but then again, when I was a kid, most boys spent their free waking moments outdoors. They grew out of it, I just never did.

My trip reports are full of references to the freedom of living out and to the wisdom of Nature, and I often rail against the current human tendancy to destroy all things natural. Edward Abbey has been a source of inspiration, too.

Anyone spending any length of time outdoors cannot help but to study Native American religious thought and especially their view of nature. Matthew King, a Lakota medicine man, said simply, "God is Nature, Nature is God", and this rings true in my mind. The Indians had/have a fully developed and rich world-view of wilderness and being out in wilderness, their idea of "walking in beauty" comes from this. The four main Lakota ceremonies, the pipe ceremony, the inipi(sweatlodge), the hanbleceyapi(vision quest)and the Sun Dance are all held outdoors, and there is a good reason for this.

I lived out of a backpack and in a tipi around the Boone NC area for 21 years, and a professor friend told me I was living 100 years behind the times, which I took as a compliment. To most others I was just a homeless bum, but I took that as a compliment, too. The funny and ironic thing, though, is even after all my years of tent time and bag nights, I've only sratched the surface. Let me repeat, I've only scratched the surface, and I still haven't come anywhere near getting enough of the woods.

Thoughtful Owl
12-04-2007, 11:54
Very interesting topic.

I to was first initated into the back woods experience by my grandfather.
He was an avid hunter and fisherman, but most of all he just simply liked getting out into the woods away from the hussell and bussell of everyday life. He taught me how to build a shelter to sleep under at night, how to lay a fire, hut, trap, find water, basically become self sufficient.

As I got older I joined the BSA and was in a very active troop. However, the troop didn't do a lot of backpacking. At the age of 15 I started working at our scout camp and taught such things as wilderness survival, camping, cooking etc. may of the "scout skills". I also met a young man, Greg (he was probably at least 6 yrs. older than me.) who became my mentor that first summer. He enjoyed backpacking, climbing, canoeing & kyaking. At the end of summer camp Greg was going to taking a two week long backpacking trip into the back country of WVA. Into the Cranberry Wilderness Area. He ask me if I would be interested in joing him. I jumped at the opportunity. I learned a lot about myself and much more and was bitten by the "bug".

I can't imagine living a life without being in the woods. Yes, many people think I am crazy because during certain times of the year I spend more time living out of my tent than than in my house. I sleep on the ground and not in a bed. I carry all my provisions on my back.

And on those weekends or weeks of vacation when I am not out on my own I am with a group of kids 12 to 18 years of age camping, backpacking, canoeing etc. Yes, I hear lot of whining and complaining about "another hill to climb, back aches, feet hurt, I got blisters etc" but I also here about how much fun they had. Not only are we teaching these kids to have fun, but also about basic life principles & skills; about citizenship & character. We teach LNT and so much more.

I believe to whom much is given, much is required. I have been offered so many fantastic opportunities and I am now in a positon where I can give back. So...lets go hiking!

HIKER7s
12-04-2007, 11:55
The work of Robert Service, "service" our interests well. I have several of his books. For those who dont know, his stuff is really worth checking into.

Gaiter
12-04-2007, 11:57
walking has always been a cure for what life throws at me, so i decided after four years of college, i needed to go for a long walk.

and on the semi-subconscience level, my nightmare that i always had growing up was of getting abandoned at a gas station with no way to leave. had a teacher who thinks this dream was a sign of my need to wander and my fear of being stuck somewhere

Tipi Walter
12-04-2007, 12:07
walking has always been a cure for what life throws at me, so i decided after four years of college, i needed to go for a long walk.

and on the semi-subconscience level, my nightmare that i always had growing up was of getting abandoned at a gas station with no way to leave. had a teacher who thinks this dream was a sign of my need to wander and my fear of being stuck somewhere

Your post reminded me of some of the terrible dreams I've had while livng out. In Lost Valley I set up a simple tarp-tipi camp and once dreamed a crappy Human Impact dream of some people putting an Interstate right thru the valley. Woke up spooked.

At the tipi I had a bad dream of the entire area being logged with a huge housing development set up. Nothing much worse than these kind of human impact dreams . . . And the sad fact is, they usually eventually come true.:(

taildragger
12-04-2007, 12:37
It started with deer hunting for me. I started pushing into the thicker woods and roaming around. I learned more about how the animals lived, their daily patterns, and how to find my way around in the woods. The drive for hunting had my living outdoors more and more each year, then I took up bowhunting which gave me an excuse to hunt from Oct 1 till Jan 15th.

Eventually (at about 13) I joined scouts to get into hiking. I didn't last long, I spoke the language of sailors, and in general, already knew more about the outdoors than my leaders. After teaching one of the leaders how to do some of the fishing badges, I still had to take the course from him, 3 months after I taught him, in order to get a badge for it. After about 3 months, and realizing that it would be about 2 years before I could do any real hiking with the troop I left (well, actually I was given a choice to clean up my language and do things their way or to leave. I decided that building a log cabin style fire and cursing fitted me better than building a tipi style fire and not cursing).

Cont'd to camp out while hiking and enjoyed the outdoors. Tried to setup a trip after college to hike the San Juan River and fly fish it with a friend, the trip fell through due to woman problems on his part.

Went through about a 4 year dry spell, then one of my friends asked if I wanted to do a week hike in NM. Seemed like a good idea, I pulled out my old equipment, mixed in a little bit of my hunting clothing, and we deemed it good enough for hiking. That trip was supposed to be around 120 or so miles, we got slaughtered by unexpected weather, dealt with it, didn't have a trail till the CDT section. I still have scars on my arms from getting cutup by the thorn trees that were growing where there had been a fire a few years before. I came out with an injured heel from pushing myself too hard, smelled horrible, hadn't been dry for 6 days, and I wanted to do it all again. I think that it was in the pub after leaving that I realized that this was something that I liked, and I started to make a commitment to do more of it.

Now, I'm trying to get some winter camping under my belt, maybe start some less technical mountaineering, and do a long distance hike on the PCT.

The bug really bit me when I worked for an oil company as an engr. I sat there as a desk jockey and realized that I have the gypsy's blood. I wanted out, I wanted to roam, and now I'm gonna go through life and deal with this, and unfortunately I got an education in Engr physics aka desk jockey 601, advanced computer staring techniques...

Wonder
12-04-2007, 13:45
I couldn't walk for a long time....now I can. I just prefer to do it in the woods

Frolicking Dinosaurs
12-04-2007, 15:59
I was born to wander, I have always wandered and will wander for as long as I can. Is there really life without wandering?

taildragger
12-04-2007, 16:06
I was born to wander, I have always wandered and will wander for as long as I can. Is there really life without wandering?

Yes there is, its called desk jockeyism, its usually followed my cigarrette boatism, bmwism, and baldism

Spirit Walker
12-04-2007, 19:28
I was born a gypsy wanderer. My folks loved to travel and lived in the Philippines for seven years. I was born there. I became an exchange student in high school and college (lived in France). Peace Corps followed (Senegal). I wanted to wander the world. But that takes money, so instead I started wandering close to home. I got into hiking as a way of dealing with some heavy emotional issues - I found that a few hours walking made anything bearable. I learned to love being in nature for its own sake. I'm happiest when I am outdoors. So I combined my natural wanderlust with that love of the outdoors and became a long distance hiker.

4eyedbuzzard
12-04-2007, 20:09
My father was disabled so my uncle used to take me hiking with his family. As I got older I used to help him with week long+ BSA outings with his troop(his son is 4 years younger than I). He could never get most of the scout's fathers to go along on week+ long hikes so I would go to help out.I really caught the AT bug the year we hiked the Presidentials and Mahoosucs - 1970?

Bob S
12-04-2007, 20:51
My parents camped from the time I was too young to remember it(they are still get out and camp now.), I joined the Boy Scouts and really enjoyed it. I have been hooked ever since. There was a guy that was a famous bum named Steamtrain Murray! (He was King of the Hobos) He would always make a point to come out to our local camp outs when he was in town. All of us scouts loved to spend time with him and he loved to tell us his stories. We would have dinner and sit around the fire. It may sound strange to idealize a bum, but to us he was adventure. I haven’t thought about him in years, brings back some good memories. He was the nicest guy you would ever meet. I will have to googel him.

I now get out and camp a lot with my Son, he loves being outdoors as much as I do.

Bob S
12-04-2007, 21:22
I just Googled him, (Steam Train Murray) here is the link for his guest book at his funeral, it seems he changed a lot of lives.
http://www.legacy.com/ToledoBlade/GB/GuestbookView.aspx?PersonId=19998369 (http://www.legacy.com/ToledoBlade/GB/GuestbookView.aspx?PersonId=19998369)

Lyle
12-04-2007, 22:10
I have always been more comfortable outdoors. I grew up on a dairy farm, so the outdoors was where both work and play took place, year-round. My sister an I used to get up some mornings at 5 AM, sneek out of the house to take care of our "pet" mouse babies. Our playground was the woods and fields, no sidewalks or paved streets to ride our bikes on, we went cross-country or followed the cowpaths! Play time took us to the old apple/pear orchard to fall asleep in the branches after eating our fill of green apples, nearest drainage ditch or stream to catch tadpoles and raise them into frogs, or into the woods behind out house to explore. Friends and relatives would come from Detroit to "The Farm" to spend a few days and by the end of their visit we would have hay forts in the barn, tunnels and rooms cleared out of the thick willows that grew in the low lands, club houses built out of old pig sheds.

High school brought camping on some wooded property my folks owned near Lake Huron with the days spent on the lake, the nights in the woods. College found me taking off from the apartment at 5 AM to drive out to a biological research area to watch the sunrise over a beautiful pond shrouded in mist, wading hip deep in bogs while maping areas for a 'Habitat Analysis" course, or shuffling through knee deep snow doing squirrel counts for a "Poplulation Analysis" course.

After college is when I got serious about hiking and backpacking as pure recreation, first with my college roomates, then solo, then starting others. It is an addiction, but one that I treasure and feel I've been neglecting of late. 8 more years to retirement, then the fun REALLY begins!

Bearpaw
12-04-2007, 23:47
I grew up in the country and walked the woods in farm country all the time. 25 years ago that past Thanksgiving, I went on my first backpacking trip in Scouts.

I joined the Marine Corps, but got out because we just didn't spend enough time in the field. I hiked the AT after I got out in 99.

Then I got tired of the regular world of work and started working as a mountaineering instructor with NOLS.

When I got tired of starving and freezing as a homeless mountain bum, I got a job teaching that allowed me to still hike LOTS on breaks.......

map man
12-05-2007, 00:54
My experience is different in one way from every other post so far. It never occured to me that I might enjoy backpacking until I was in my mid-40s. My family didn't do any camping when I was growing up. My friends didn't either. I have always done more walking than most people -- I didn't own a car for large stretches of my 20s and 30s -- but it took a long time before it dawned on me that doing a lot of walking would be a lot better out in nature than on a city sidewalk!

I've been a bookworm most of my adult life and I arrived at backpacking through reading. First, it was a couple books about extreme outdoor adventures gone bad, oddly enough, that piqued my interest. Young Men and Fire, about an elite bunch of post-WWII smokejumpers who perished in the Mann Gulch, Montana forest fire. And Into Thin Air, about one summiting season that went very wrong on Mount Everest. You'd think that books like that would make a guy swear off leaving the comforts of civilization, but they didn't. The writers made the outdoor experiences described come off the page so vividly.

Then I stumbled onto some books about long distance hiking, and that led me to some on-line resources for hiking, and before you know it I had found WhiteBlaze and was devouring all the information I could cram into my head. I learned so much here (with some added info here and there) that it didn't seem at all odd to me (although it did to my wife:D) to plan a two week solo hike on the Superior Hiking Trail in Minnesota as my first backpacking experience of any kind. As it turned out, a couple other people expressed interest in going too, so I didn't end up hiking alone. That first trip was even more amazing than I could have expected. I found I really liked sleeping on the cold, hard ground (with no offense intended toward hammockers:D )! I had the most pleasant dreams every night. I liked the camp rituals -- looking for that perfect spot for the tent, eating dinner outdoors in the company of long-time friends or friends I'd just met that evening at the tent-site, or looking for that perfect bear-bagging tree. I liked every day -- even the rainy ones, even the sore-kneed ones.

So now with two years of backpacking behind me I believe I'm hooked for all the years to come until my body fails me (I hope that's not for many years yet:D ).

Lellers
12-05-2007, 02:00
Wow, Hikers7, I started out in the Pine Barrens, too! And I'm only a couple of years older than you are, so maybe we were both out chasing the Jersey Devil along the Batsto at the same time!

Actually, I grew up in a little town on the edge of the Delaware River opposite Philly International Airport. I spent a lot of time choking on refinery fumes, but I liked standing at the edge of the river and just watching the rolling of the water. If I headed east out of our small town, I ran into all sorts of fields and woods. I also grew up in a family of boys in a neighborhood that was overrun by high-energy boys. In the summer, we'd go down to the woods at the end of our street and just sleep on the sand next to the creek. It was a different world back then, and our parents knew that we were safe down there. My parents took us camping in a Coleman camper in the 1960s, and I even enjoyed that experience. I just loved being out in the woods. My uncle was an Eagle Scout, and our family outings included all of his old-timey scout wisdom from the 1940s, stuff that isn't exactly LNT today!

The summer between high school and college, I told my parents that I was going to spend some time at the shore with a friend, but what I really did was gather up some old boy scout gear from the basement (including a canvas tent with wooden poles) and drove to Front Royal. I had camped in SNP as a kid with my parents and heard about the AT. From that time on, I was drawn to the trail. I left the car on some side street down there, not knowing what else to do, and walked into the park. I covered all of the AT in SNP, solo, at the age of 18. Looking the way I did when I was 18, I found it very easy to hitch a ride back from Rockfish with a local boy who didn't mind driving me all the way back to Front Royal. Today I cringe when I think about my inexperienced teenage self doing that!

A few years later, finished college and desperately in love, I married a non-camping CPA. He's an indoor kind of guy. The only thing he likes doing outdoors is running.. Serious running. He's still running Masters track and field and putting up respectable times, but I don't understand expending all that energy to run in circles, and he can't fathom taking all day to walk 10 miles. Hiking incompatables.

Then the kids came along... two boys. I had no time to camp and hike. But once they became boy scout age, off I went! I became the first female assistant scoutmasters in a 90 year old troop. That was some 12 years ago. It's a different world, scout camping, but it's fun watching the boys learn how capable they can be in tough situations. These novice guys teach me a thing or two, also! AND, they're much stronger than I am, so occasionally, they have pity on an old woman and carry some of my gear for me, too!

Now the really sad part of all of this is that I carry a considerable amount of weight on the trail. None of it is detachable! Oh for the good ole days when i was much, much thinner! So, in preparation for a 100-mile AT hike this summer with my scouts, the little darlings are helping me go lighter by losing 50 excess pounds of accumulated fat. I kid you not! They knock on my door after school and ask if I've been to the gym, and offer to go with me. They've been a real inspiration (nags), and I've actually lost 10 pounds this month!

So if you see a slightly gray, mildly stiff-jointed, but very happy woman hiking with a handful of boy scouts in 2008, stop and say hello!

warraghiyagey
12-05-2007, 02:05
I've never seen my biological mother. The trail feeds me and guides me. I don't wander so much as walk with anticipation toward tomorrow.

ScottP
12-05-2007, 02:44
travelling is life and life is travelling

Tennessee Viking
12-05-2007, 04:12
Growing up my parents always dragged me on little hiking trips, Roan Mountain, Smokies, and the BRP, where I end up screaming, "Are we there yet." Going to school, studying and learning about the Appalachian Trail, but never really caring where it ran.

Fall 2006, I just moved back from Iowa. I tell you what...that was one reason right there. After moving from a place of pure flat land where the highest elevation was 400 above sea level. Coming back to Tennessee, I fell back in love and had a better admiration with the mountains.

After moving back, I had a lot of free time waiting to for my job transfer to go through. So some of my friends and my dad suggested I start fishing. I started fishing Watauga River, Boone Lake, and Holston Rivers. Fishing sucked that year, water was too hot for fishing. So I started driving to the more mountainous and colder waters around Watuaga Lake. I ended up going around the lake and up up up Cross Mtn Road from the Doe Valley. And wouldn't you know it I found me the AT. I asked my dad about the AT, and finely started realizing that the AT runs through my backyard.

On another fishing trip to Watuaga, I decided to follow the forest service signs for fishing from Hampton up to something called Dennis Cove.

All of a sudden memories started flashing by, I remembered my parents dragging me on a hike down to Laurel Falls. I decided to check around for fishing spots, so I hiked down to the falls and back up the blue blaze. I started to get an itch.

I started to scratch that itch by looking for more waterfalls, Blue Hole on Holston Mtn was next. Then I found Elk River Falls.

On the way back from Elk River Falls, I decided to go up Roan Mtn to look around. I hadn't been up there in about 10 years. That day had a heavy overcast and it cloud cover was down to below the balds. But I figured I would walk up a little ways. I walked up to Round Knob. Right then and there. I was stratching my itch. I was then hooked with hiking.

I started day hiking almost everyday, even on mornings before going to work. I was addict for hiking. Some of my friends still think I need to go to HA...Hikers Anonymous. And so crazy, I was so unskilled at hiking at the beginning. I ended up hiking to Watauga Lake Shelter one late afternoon, and almost didnt make it out because it got dark early.

I eventually joined up with the Eastman Hiking Club, just to join up on the hikes. But then I found out they also do AT maintenance. I got even itchier.

I ended up doing my first outing at Shook Branch on Watauga Lake, helping to revamp Shook Branch bridge. It was a cold and windy morning. We finished up by noon, and I decided to hike up to Pond Flats.

I started my first section hike Carvers Gap down to 19E. I hiked down to the Barn shelter with the main pack of NoBos, we all got pushed out by a enormous group of school kids invading the shelter. I ended up making a cheap tarp tent and sleeping outside. Going over Yellow and the Humps...WOW!!

I finished a second section Bitter End to 19E.

I have also completed a number of section day hikes with the Friday Hikers. Taylors Valley to Damascus, and Spivy Gap to Indian Grave Gap.

Tennessee Viking
12-05-2007, 04:14
i was born this way. i'm blue-blazing life
I rather yellow blaze life. Be lazy, and short cut around the hard things in life.

Crazy Larry #1
12-05-2007, 04:26
I started running away from home when I was seven and wandering all over the place, sometimes for days while worrying the tarnation out of my family.

Up until recently I had rabbit blood in my feet.............

Frolicking Dinosaurs
12-05-2007, 08:10
I started running away from home when I was seven and wandering all over the place, sometimes for days while worrying the tarnation out of my family.

Up until recently I had rabbit blood in my feet.............::: Dino seen arranging rabbit blood transfusion for TOW :::

kayak karl
12-05-2007, 08:13
started hiking when i was 4 (eisenhower was president) every sat morning my dad, with the dog (Inky) went for a hike in the Philly wilderness of Penny Pack Park. We would take a sterno stove. bake beans, spam, cambells soup. i remember it like it was yesterday :)
when we moved to jersey, the pine barrens became our stomping ground.

LIhikers
12-05-2007, 08:28
While I've always enjoyed the outdoors I didn't start hiking until well into adulthood. There is a trailhead that my wife and I drive past and we used to wonder where it went. Well, one day we decided to find out and headed southbound on Long Island's Nassua/Suffolk Trail. It wasn't long before we had wandered into a local school yard and realized we'd lost the trail. Once we found our way back to the car and were headed home we decided to try again another day. The second time we realized the trail was marked with paint on the trees and we could go on and on. We got the maps for trails on Long Island and started doing day hikes most weekends. After a while we decided to try out day hikes in NY's Harriman State Park. The maps showed the AT and we started day hiking the AT with a good friend of ours. Then one time when we went to visit friends in Charles Town, WV they took us to Harper's Ferry to show us around. When we saw the AT there the light bulb went off in our heads, we could walk home to NY if we wanted to. Well, the next summer we were back at Harper's Ferry and headed north to the PA line. Since then we've been heading north as time and life allow. Presently we're up to Manchester Center, VT and loving every step of the trip.

V8
12-05-2007, 08:53
A couple of distinct influences -

We Took to the Woods, by Louise Dickenson Rich - I dove into this when I was about 13, and reread it every year since. Moved to Maine as soon as I had a choice in the matter.

A backpacking trip out of summer camp when I was about 14, during which I struggled and whined and regretted my decision to join, until we got up to the ridge line, and all the White Mts. were spread around us...

Ever since, I have "euphoric recall" of every backpacking trip I ever took, no matter how awful it might have actually been!

NICKTHEGREEK
12-05-2007, 09:28
My mom and dad left me and my sister Gretel in the forest.

Hansel

Crazy Larry #1
12-05-2007, 09:46
::: Dino seen arranging rabbit blood transfusion for TOW :::
Give it to me baby...............this rat race I'm in is about to over take me.........aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrg gggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhh...........:eek:

Lyle
12-05-2007, 09:57
Hey Lellers Congratulations! Keep up the good work, let them nag away. You must be pretty special to them that they are taking such an interest.

tazie
12-06-2007, 12:38
..it wasn't so much wandering as escape with a purpose. Growing up in the sixties and seventies kids didn't stay inside anyway... outside all day (except for school, of course) and came home when momma called you for supper in the evening...there were adventures to be had. I left home and the outdoors still called to me. Worked and always ventured out when I had the chance. Got married and had kids, and the great outdoors was an escape from the drudgery of dishes, laundry, cooking and endless chores..From babies on we were outside every chance we got...we hiked, explored and walked every trail we could find...still do. The outdoors doesn't ask anything from you, yet gives so much...it's all there, truth, beauty, honesty..you can't hide anything in your heart when you're outside. I love it.

Miss Janet
12-06-2007, 13:25
I am sorry it has taken me so long to read this thread! My wanderlust is deep in my

I was born in the Texas panhandle and spent my first couple of weeks of life camping on a tiny little fishing lake near Amarillo. For the first 13 years of my life we went back and forth between Texas and Tennessee a dozen times. When we would come back to these green beautiful mountains I was so happy to be here. I was always gone to the creek, off riding a horse somewhere or up on one of the old "Indian trails"... I met my first Thruhiker when I was about 13 up near the Beauty Spot. He scared the bejesus out of me!! I loved being in the mountains and planning how I could actually run away and LIVE up there. My family was slightly dysfunctional and I was always wanting to escape. Build me a little cabin or live in a cave! Ride a horse across the country. Canoe down a river as far as it would go. Ah, fantasy of children...

But I grew up. Kinda. I went to college, had 4 children, married and divorced and then I met THRUHIKERS again... Boy, has it all been down hill since then! The GROWING UP, that is. Here I am trying to be "normal" and I meet hundreds of people every year with wonderful stories of all the adventures I ever dreamed of as a child! I love my hiker business and it is a priority for me right now BUT... if it doesn't work out.... I may be joining the ranks of the terminally rootless. With friends like Baltimore Jack, Mala, Restless, Stumpknocker, Artful Dodger, Fox Trot and so many other wandering souls... what else would I want to do?? Be NORMAL? Nah!

dessertrat
12-06-2007, 13:29
My first "hike" through "unexplored and unknown" wilderness was when I was about eight or nine years old, and my friends Todd and Chuck and I were outside my house looking at the woods behind my house. The woods were owned mostly by my grandfather. We realized that four or five miles through those woods, somewhere in that general direction, was where Todd's house was. So we packed up some sandwiches and canteens (canteens were more common in those days when most soda bottles were glass-- almost every kid I knew had a canteen) and headed out on a logging road, which petered out after a half mile or so, and turned into a trail. The trail went about another half mile, and came to a brook with a beaver dam, but the beavers were long since gone. Then we bushwhacked the rest of the way, found another trail, and eventually dumped out on a road about half a mile from where we had meant to go. We had stayed on course pretty well for a bunch of kids with no map or compass! It took most of the day to do it, since we had to detour around some bogs, etc.

tazie
12-06-2007, 13:33
I was born in the Texas panhandle and spent my first couple of weeks of life camping on a tiny little fishing lake near Amarillo.

We lived in New Mexico for 5yrs and the kids and I hiked Palo Duro Canyon a lot...wild, rugged and windy, but beautiful country out there. I'll always great memories of Amarillo...

wandering souls... what else would I want to do?? Be NORMAL? Nah![/quote]

gal, if the rest of society is normal, no thanks...I'll take what we are just fine. :)

Tipi Walter
12-06-2007, 16:27
Nature hit me hard in the gut in 1959 when I was 9 years old. I spent a year in Lawrence, Kansas while my Dad was getting his degree at KU, and we lived at Stouffer Place, our front yard was 200 acres of open field with Allen Field House far off in the distance. Raised in Oklahoma, I was used to the wide open spaces(probably my current fascination with open balds and high ridge camping), but for some reason that year in Kansas made me a Nature Boy.

Long ago all of Kansas was an ocean floor, so I started collecting fossils and worked with files to separate them from rock. I found crinoid stems and stone sea shells, shale imprints of flowers and thousands of foraminiferae(sp). I had my own reptile garden back in Oklahoma before I moved to Kansas and would charge a nickel to neighbor kids to see my frogs, toads, bullfrog tadpoles, turtle, crawdads, and snakes.

My Mom at the time was into antique furniture, and if she found a 100 year old chair she would get pretty excited. I got her to take me to a local college archaeology professor to date my fossils and he looked at one and said, "That's about 280 million years old." I looked up at my Mom and thought of her antique chairs and had her by about 279.9999 million years.

My teachers called home often and complained about my fossil obsession and my loner nature. One teacher just called me nature boy and let me have extra time to work on my fossils which I kept in a lunch box. I loved that open field, we would build straw bale forts before the farmers knew . . .
When I moved back to Oklahoma I did the same thing after Christmas with all the old neighborhood xmas trees. Gathered them all up, hauled them to the backyard, and made a real good shelter with me inside. Later I joined the BSA but as a loner I didn't fit in, and they hazed me with the "belt line", a procedure for newbys to crawl under the other's legs while gettng whipped with belts. Arsehole scout leaders so I quit soon after.

In '63 we moved out of Oklahoma to Wichita Falls, Texas where I went canoeing and dug underground forts. I spent a lot of time with my Yucca pack hauling plaster of paris to record various animal footprints, forming molds and bringing back the plaster prints. I also had a "lab" complete with microscopes and slide making equipment. My computer screen back then was hours spent looking into a microscope.

When I got to high school I took a sabbatical from nature cuz there were just too many pretty girls! I became a troubador-poet-musician.

Wonder
12-06-2007, 17:22
started hiking when i was 4 (eisenhower was president) every sat morning my dad, with the dog (Inky) went for a hike in the Philly wilderness of Penny Pack Park. We would take a sterno stove. bake beans, spam, cambells soup. i remember it like it was yesterday :)
when we moved to jersey, the pine barrens became our stomping ground.

I don't think that I'd hike there anymore:eek: Scary......it saddens me that the city of my birth is now the murder capital of the nation. I started out hiking in Delaware county at Ridley Creek State park, the Valley Forge, the developed an obsession with the Southern Pocono, Jim Thorpe, area......now, I dig the Grayson Highlands.
The lust started for me early...hunting with dad gave me the wilderness, being a traveling musican in my youth gave me the urge to see all that I could......some where in between....when I was crippled or stuck in one place......the AT seemed to be the only thing that made sense

kayak karl
12-06-2007, 17:42
I don't think that I'd hike there anymore:eek: Scary......it saddens me that the city of my birth is now the murder capital of the nation. I started out hiking in Delaware county at Ridley Creek State park, the Valley Forge, the developed an obsession with the Southern Pocono, Jim Thorpe, area......now, I dig the Grayson Highlands.
The lust started for me early...hunting with dad gave me the wilderness, being a traveling musican in my youth gave me the urge to see all that I could......some where in between....when I was crippled or stuck in one place......the AT seemed to be the only thing that made sense
I Know. I've been back. Sad to look at it. I thought i was too short to see the houses on each side that I see now.
When we went to the Pine Barrens (My uncle owned acres of ground near the RIVERSIDE RIFLE AND PISTOL CLUB Tabernacle, NJ) My dad would take 12 of us to the woods. We had web belts with shovels, ax, canteen. Backpacks made of duffle bags or pillow cases. Shower curtian tents and cans and cans of food. We would hike in 2 miles ans set up camp., Ultralite we were not:) But it was a blast! We were 10-12 and in our glory. When we get together, even today it's what we talk about. THE GOOD OLD DAYS!

Summit
12-06-2007, 17:44
I started hunting/camping in my early teens (actually did backyard camping earlier than that), car camping style. Then after college I ran into an old high school friend who emphatically told me about his first hiking experience. I curiously mined him for all the details. Long story short, I borrowed most of what he used, including a boy scout pack (more like a book bag) with canvas shoulder straps and no waist belt and did a 35 mile hike from Dick's Creek Gap, GA to Betty's Creek and side trail out to my vehile.

The ironic thing is I don't believe my friend who got me interested and started ever hiked again, while 34 years later, I'm still going! ;) I've probably done 4-5 thousand miles altogether . . . used to keep a journal log but lost it and stopped keeping track. My longest hike was the JMT + PCT to Sonora Pass, about 300 miles. I've done a lot of 100+ mile hikes, which a week or more is ideal for me. I've done in sections from Springer to the middle of Virginia, hiked in the Alps (Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy), Rocky Mtns, Sierra Nevada, Salmon Trinity Alps (N. California), Canadian Rockies (Banff & Jasper), Denali and Kenai Peninsula (Alaska), Wonderland Trail / Olympic National Park (Washington), and probably some that escape my memory.

As Lee Marvin sang in "Paint Your Wagon," "I was born under a wandrin' star!"

Summit
12-06-2007, 17:46
Senior momment . . . knew I'd left an important hike out - 100 miles on the Long Trail in Vermont!

JAK
12-06-2007, 18:23
My first wander I was 18 months, out the back door in December as my mother was hanging out the laundry in Port Cartier on the Labrador Shore. Across the top of the snow, naked as a Jay Bird, with my mother postholing after me. In Kindergarten I decided once to take the long way home, got home just after dark. I remember even at 6 or 7 getting interested in maps and wondering how long it might take to walk to this town or that. I've taken many long way homes since. All very pleasant. Only had to be semi-rescued once. I still swear I'd have gotten out eventually. I don't travel all that far from home though really. Plenty of room to get lost around here, and I like the winter.

I read the other day that the reason the Canada Jay is sometimes called a Whiskey-Jack is because it is derived from the various native american names for it, such as Wisakedjak, which means fat eater, and also in native mythology a trickster god. It is is trusting and easily tamed, making it good company for people in lonely places. It does not migrate but during the fall and winter may cover quite extensive areas in search of adedoes not migrate but during the fall and winter may cover quite extensive areas in search of adequate support.

-Ghost-
12-06-2007, 19:38
For me it was the Boy Scouts. I actually had a good, knowledgeable scoutmaster who knew a lot about backpacking, camping, caving, etc. So our troop did a lot of trips and i learned to love the outdoors. Basically everything i love to do is outside, mountain biking, skiing, backpacking, hiking, caving, etc.

JAK
12-06-2007, 20:56
It would be good to see more scouting outdoors and less indoors.

Kirby
12-06-2007, 21:02
Hmmm... I owe credit to my middle school english teacher for getting me into hiking.

I owe credit to outward for backpacking, and inspiring me to attempt a thru hike in 08.

Kirby

Tinker
12-07-2007, 00:42
I had a childhood friend who went to Unity College in Unity, Me. He and his friends did a lot of hiking, mostly peak-bagging. He took me along once, and that was it. I "bagged" all of the 4,000 footers in N.H. then discovered that I loved distance hiking. In the course of completing the Long Trail (section hiking), I "bagged" all of the 4,000 footers in Vt. Continuing on the AT in Me. I just happened to hike over all the 4,000 footers there, too, except for the few in Baxter. Saving Katahdin until I do the 100 mi. wilderness (probably next fall).

I used to dream of bicycling across the USA, but blacktop doesn't have much allure.

Pennsylvania Rose
12-07-2007, 10:48
Not really sure where I got the wanderlust from. My brother has it even worse than me (or he's better managed to avoid growing up), although our parents' idea of the great outdoors is sitting on the porch in the summer. A few things come to mind: the only undeveloped land in our suburb was 5 acres of overgrown farm two houses down from ours - we played there dusk to dawn in the summer; sometimes when my dad would go on business trips to Clearfield, PA we'd go along...while dad was working mom would drive us up into the mountains, park the car and sit and read while we explored; my grandma walked miles every day until she got too frail at 93 - when we stayed with her we took long walks together; canoing on lakes at state parks with my brother (mom would rent the canoe, but would sit on shore and read); campfires out back of the lodge my Girl Scout troop stayed at - and sneaking away from the leaders just to sit by the creek or explore (it got to the point that they told me if I wouldn't stay where I was supposed to, I couldn't come back); whitewater rafting on the Yough with my church youth group starting at 12; the outdoors club at my high school clinched the deal for me - hiking, caving, white water canoing.

These things were just an outlet for my wanderlust, though. Some of my earliest memories are of laying in my bed, staring out the window at the hills and stars, and wondering what was "out there." It must be something you're born with.

whitefoot_hp
12-07-2007, 11:11
one day i went on a dayhike with a friend. we saw two packs sitting on the trail and their owners were getting water. we picked up the packs and ive loved it ever since!

just kidding. basically grew up in north georgia, my dad took me on a few hikes when i was young and then a friend later got me more into it.

dessertrat
12-07-2007, 11:17
It would be good to see more scouting outdoors and less indoors.

No kidding. I quit cub scouts because they wanted us to sit inside tying knots and doing crafts. Blech! I never tried it again.

Thoughtful Owl
12-07-2007, 11:55
It would be good to see more scouting outdoors and less indoors.


Scouting is supposed to be outing. If you take the "outing" out of scouting all you have left is sc.:)

Thoughtful Owl
12-07-2007, 12:07
No kidding. I quit cub scouts because they wanted us to sit inside tying knots and doing crafts. Blech! I never tried it again.

I know this is really of thread but... you oviously had either poorly trained leaders or not trained at all.

DAKS
12-07-2007, 12:12
i too would have to say that scouting was a major influence on my becoming a wanderer! if you can get past the indoor things such as crafts and knot tying yer' all set! i agree, that there should be more "outing" in scouting. i was fortunate enough to attend scout summer camps for many years and then serve on staff at scout camps as well. my past experience in scouting turned me into the wanderer that i now am! sure wish i was outdoors right now?

Roots
12-07-2007, 12:26
I loved tromping through the woods when I was young. Actually, Girl Scouts got me started on wood tromps. I wish my daughter could experience being able to go off with her friends wondering through woods, making forts, playing games, and just having fun from sun up to sun down. We played hard!! I can't trust society enough to let her experience that alone with friends, so we take off when ever possible and play in the woods with her. I know that she'll always have our experiences to take with her on her own 'tromping' adventures one day.:)

Thoughtful Owl
12-07-2007, 16:42
i too would have to say that scouting was a major influence on my becoming a wanderer! if you can get past the indoor things such as crafts and knot tying yer' all set! i agree, that there should be more "outing" in scouting. i was fortunate enough to attend scout summer camps for many years and then serve on staff at scout camps as well. my past experience in scouting turned me into the wanderer that i now am! sure wish i was outdoors right now?

Dak, that makes two of us that wish we outdoors right now. If only it wasn't for the other committments of life...

Have a great weekend.

WWW

-Ghost-
12-07-2007, 19:10
It sucks that some of you guys had bad scout leaders who turned the scouting experience sour with knot tying and what not. I learned my knots in the woods putting them to real uses. After becoming an Eagle Scout and becoming a leader now i really am thankful that i had such a good scoutmaster that really stressed the "outing" in scouting. Every summer we get a High Adventure trip planned, i think 2 summers from now we are trying to get out west to do some backpacking in the Rockys! :)

Pony
12-07-2007, 20:13
No kidding. I quit cub scouts because they wanted us to sit inside tying knots and doing crafts. Blech! I never tried it again.



Hey, I think we had the same scout leader. We went to the circus, Icecapades, the zoo, etc., etc. Not once did we go backpacking or even on a day hike. It didn't take too long for me to get sick of that. Anyhow, my Dad got me into fishing, and being outdoors in general. I spent most warm days as a child tromping through the woods and creeks behind our house, until my parents forced me to come inside or it got dark. My high school geometry teacher got me into birding, which led to being in the woods more. In college, my friend John started me hiking, going to New River Gorge and Spruce Knob W.V. (he had a real scout leader. He spent several years as camp counseler in Philmont NM. Now he is into ultra running and is even sponsored by Vasque) Now its mostly day hikes and overnighters, but I'm ready for that next step.

Lilred
12-08-2007, 23:11
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lCIHpFisdg

Don't know who those dancers are, but it's my cousin Pete and Rare EArth singing 'Born to Wander'. Maybe listening to him sing this growing up gave me the lust to wander in the woods.

Lellers
12-08-2007, 23:18
I just want to say.... I'm the coolest Assistant Scoutmaster in the whole world! (One of my first-years told me that a while ago.) :D

At summer camp two years ago, some kid from another troop sneered and commented to our SPL, "You guys bring a mom with you? You some kind of wusses?"

SPL responded, "That's not just a mom. That's the great and powerful Mrs. S!"

I love those kids! (Except for the one who hasn't returned the tent he borrowed from me.)

mkmangold
12-09-2007, 00:56
I bought a book called "The New Complete Walker" by Colin Fletcher. As I read it, by mind began to imagine, my legs began to twitch, and my heart began to yearn. All downhill from there, thank God!

arasjane
02-25-2008, 11:52
2004 was my first experience with the AT... Although I have hike a lot of the Mts. in NH & VT when I was 10-14. My best friends father has been on me about hitting the trail with him all through my high schools years, finally tens years after graduating I went. We did the Georgia section first Springer Mt to Bly Gap NC. About 80 miles in 7 days, we hiked it with support, his wife Mary could no longer hike so she followed us all the way through to NC, driving up forest roads in a van, meeting us a at different check points so we could re-fuel or eat a nice hot meal she would cook up for us. One day it was american chop suey! This way she didn't feel left out of the scenery, & ended up being a "Trail angel" for all that passed thru. Any body that has met her was so great for her help! She gave rides to some that had fallen Ill or got injured on there short Journey. At the end of each day we would head to a hostile or go to a gold mine & pan for gold, It was the best of both worlds for me. In 2006 I attempted to do the Tn\NC section but I was 3 months pregnant & got morning sickness along with a MAJOR sinus infection. So I had no energy to step foot on the trail, You know everything happens for a reason & this reason was One the second day there, A tornado watch came in & my partner was on a ledge & almost got blown off the Mt!! That night we decided it would be best for my to get home. Sooo a bus ride it was...23 hrs. later I was home in Ma. Uuugh! I plan on doing this again, & hopefully I will be taking my daughter with me!!

Almost There
02-25-2008, 13:14
Wolf says it best...blueblazin' life.

I have a problem with conformity after awhile, I wanna do what I wanna do, and I don't care what others think. Kinda like hikin' the trail. If that side trail is nicer, better view, whatever, and I wanna do it, I don't care what color blaze I'm looking at. You live your life for you, and I hike my hike for me. That's what it's all about.

As for the wandering, well it came about probably when we used to spend summers out in Colorado, I used to wander off as young as 4 or 5, always interested in seeing what was over the next hill or in the next gully. I'd lose it for awhile but come back to it. College saw me exploring the ravines of SW Indiana and W Michigan, much of it bushwacking. 2005 saw me rediscovering backpacking and the AT. I'll be around 500miles on the AT by 2nd week of April. Another 300+ this summer, and probably another 800 miles on other trails and hikes. Just feels right out there being beholden to no man.

Venture
02-26-2008, 10:46
Thanks to my Father for taking me on numerous wanderings into the Grand Canyon and the mountains of the southwest as a kid! Cant imagne life without regular trips into the great outdoors. He will be sending my maps to me along the way on my thru this year!

Foyt20
02-26-2008, 10:55
My father started me off canoeing and My first Hiking trip was at the AT section in Delaware water gap. I was about 7 (i think). Then Boy Scouts sealed the deal, and i was camping, hiking, cooking outdoors, sleeping outdoors, etc etc, every month for 8 years.

My Wander lust kind of died down for a few years when i was a Volly Firefighter, because i had a reason to stay in town, but when i "retired" and moved about an hour away from there, its back STRONG.

Just trying to get my kit together properly, cant wait to get back on the trail.

Frau
02-26-2008, 14:33
My dad loved the water. We used to stay all summer on the Rhode River, off the Chesapeake Bay. Dad was close enough to work to commute. Mom watched my younger sibs and I was allowed to wander, go crabbin' with the old man who owned the house we rented, fish, sail, hunt softshell crabs, swim, row, dig for clams (no luck) find snake skins, dissect barnacles and mussels.....I could write paragraphs. We did this every summer from '58-'62.The biggy though, was the road trip I took with an aunt and uncle--DC to Jaspar-Lake Loiuse. Just imagine!! 13 years old and seeing the Badlands, Rushmore, Highway to the Sun, Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, Jackson Hole and HIKING in Glacier NP!!Changed my life forever. I have never chased wealth. I work 3 jobs (teach, coach and groom) to hike, paddle and travel. I am blessed. When I am low on cash I hike around here (Geo. Wahington and Jefferson NFs). When Nessmuk takes a notion, we go a little further, like the Cranberry, Otter Creek, Harper's Ferry, and our upcoming Swamp Tour.Life can't get any better.Frau

CowHead
10-30-2008, 11:52
I grew up in a small town in Ohio, the only thing we had to do as kids was hike the hills around us, during the summer we would built shelters, camp and fish for weeks at a time. This is where I got my name Cow-head I took off my cap and my hair was sticking up one of my friends yell cow-head when he meant to yelled cow-lick the way we get our names.

cowboy nichols
10-30-2008, 14:21
Mom left the door open when I was three---I havn't stopped yet.

Old Hillwalker
10-30-2008, 17:54
The following is likely the reason I have had three marriages and love to hike. So far I haven't found a woman that matches me, and I fear that time is running out.

Searching

Some people do not have to search, they find their niche early in life and rest there, seemingly contented and resigned. They do not seem to ask much of life, sometimes they do not seem to take it seriously. At times I envy them, but usually I do not understand them. Seldom do they understand me.
I am one of the searchers. There are, I believe, millions of us. We are not unhappy, but neither are we really content. We continue to explore ourselves, hoping to understand. We like to walk along the beach, we are drawn by the ocean, taken by its power, its unceasing motion, it mystery and unspeakable beauty. We like the forests and mountains, deserts and hidden rivers, and the lonely cities as well. Our sadness is as much a part of our lives as is our laughter. To share our sadness with one we love is perhaps as great a joy as we can know - unless it be to share our laughter.
We searchers are ambitious only for life itself, for everything beautiful it can provide. Most of all we want to love and be loved. We want to live in a relationship that does not impede our wandering, not prevent our search, not lock us in prison walls; that will take us for what little we have to give. We do not want to prove ourselves to another or to compete for love.

Dogwood
10-31-2008, 00:08
I have evolved into this person who believes "church" is "out there".
I can’t go a month without getting gone for a weekend or so. I believe that the peace that I (we?)find in these endeavors directly affects how we do life, how we view life. You look at the whole spectrum of the way people perceive us.

PREACH IT!

Did you ever get the comment “you’re crazy” doing this or that geared to being where we want to be “out there”.

YES! BUT AT LEAST I"M HAPPILY CRAZY!!!


There are people who we all know who will fuss about a meal or a guest bed done properly for the night or if their eggs are well done. The one’s who run from the car to the door in the light rain so they wont get wet for 5 seconds. How about the ones who speak of their doom in a thunderstorm or give you (the classic) the "your nuts" look when you say you've hiked 2100 miles in 6 months or have just kayaked a great length of some river. I love the way we look to some people simply because we represent (to them) an oddity because they can’t fathom why we do this and are so happy about it.

LOL LOL LOL! AT THIS POINT I QUIETLY SMILE AND PONDER WHAT I"VE BEEN FORTUNATE TO HAVE EXPERIENCED!!!

Hoop
10-31-2008, 21:29
Boy Scouts at first. Then in high school a few of us got into camping on Exchange Island in the St. Johns river. Pile into a little john boat, putt through the waves and pull into a little cove; country in the city. Fished, enjoyed the moment.

Lemni Skate
05-08-2009, 08:51
I have had it in me for a long time. Always looking in the atlas for the most remote spots. The fact is anytime I saw a trail or a railroad track I wondered where it went. I never acted on it as I have always let other people's expectations push me in directions I didn't want to go. Now I'm 46 and the call is overwhelming, but I'm still trapped by life. A mortgage that won't get paid if I don't work, two kids in school who will backpack with me, but really don't have the disposition to join me on a thru-hike and a wonderful wife who deserves more from me than I give her.

Still, I wander when I can and I'm making more and more time for myself to get out on the trail, but I think things have got to the point in my life that nothing short of making my life center around hiking will cure me.

HIKER7s
05-08-2009, 08:57
Nice post, I couldnt o said it better. Its exactly my situation, including the mortgage, wife and kid part.

And I am constantly pulled to the trail, any trail so much so that the people most important to me cannot see why its so deep a devotion.

We are a culture in ourselves!:banana

Ladytrekker
05-08-2009, 09:08
My father was a hunter/fisherman and I spent the majority of my childhood in the woods. Most of my childhood baths were in a #2 washtub. I have a natural love for the outdoors and spend as much time as life and work will allow.

Ridge Rat
05-08-2009, 10:05
Now that I have read a bunch of stories that seem great mine seems a bit off. I got into it in the worst possible way. I day hiked all my life and one day my buddy asked me to go backpacking. We decided to go from DWG to wind gap in PA. I bought a cheap pack and a fleece "sleeping bag". Decided it would be a good idea to hike in chuck taylor all stars (bad idea all the way around).... It was painful, cold, miserable and I hated it. The next week I bought better gear and an actual pair of hiking shoes to prove the trail couldnt beat me... Been hooked ever since... Spend almost all my free time on the trail.

TrippinBTM
05-08-2009, 11:17
i was born this way. i'm blue-blazing life

I love the way you said that.

I was gonna say it's sort of an inborn thing. I just wasn't satisfied with this daily grind of civilization, even at a young age. Something always felt wrong, I didn't fit with it. So long distance hiking and all that, it just sorta fits... an alternative lifestyle.

Probably a lot stems from early camping trips and being read LOTR when I was a kid (thanks dad!). My parents always made us play outside (no video games, or too much TV, and all that). And I've always been a map junky, and now I'm finally going to all those places I've seen on maps that looked interesting.

JokerJersey
05-08-2009, 13:46
I attribute my love of it to one of my mothers many "father figures" that came around from the time my parents split when I was 4 until they remarried when I was 23.

His name was Ralph and he tried to raise me like a son. He is a part of the Seneca tribe of New York and he taught me almost everything I know about the outdoors. Introduced me to Tom Brown Jr. (The Tracker) and gave me my first wilderness surivial lessons. By 8 I knew how to build a debris hut and start a fire with a bow drill, by 12 I was instinctive bow shooting. He taught me how to tan hides with natural materials including brains taken from the animal. Basically showed me everything he could, from tracking to wild edibles. He taught me never to fear the outdoors but to ALWAYS respect them.

The real punch came when I was about 15 or 16. He invited me to come to the annual Sundance on the East Coast. I still have no words to describe that experience. I spent weeks ahead of time carving him a cedar staff to use while dancing and then, for one of the first times of my life, was treated like a man instead of a child. Camped under the stars for 10 days, helped to cut and carry the tree used in the ceremony, was invited to sweat one night with the dancers in the sweatlodge, was assigned shifts at gate duty to keep the "tourists" out (even though it was on private land), and then finally was given the opportunity to give my flesh offerings (tiny bits of skin cut from the upper arm usually, as a way to offer your pain so the prayers of the People can reach Grandfather Sky). Afterwards, we watched the dancers get pierced and raised up. That day I spotted 7 red tail hawks circling the area, which by all accounts, should never happen. I have never before or since felt such a feeling of oneness with everything around me, with the world, with those who were sharing it with me, and with life itself. It reshaped everything I thought I knew about life and the world.

Jump forward 2 years and I found myself in the military as a way to escape the cycle of bad decisions I had made as a teenager with drugs and continued to make. I hated the rigid structure of it, but I had made a commitment and kept it. I loved any time we would leave garrison to do field-ops. It felt like coming home. Those times would end too soon and it was back to a life in the military that was nothing like what I had pictured. I guess that is the case with most things in life, right?

Then I was deployed to Iraq and things changed yet again. I came home after 6 months a much different person. I was harder, more cruel, and carried scars that I'm still trying to rid myself of. I've been dealing with a slowly easing case of PTSD, mostly associated with loud noises, certain smells, and fire sirens. After that, I submersed myself in alternate realities instead of facing the ones that were threatening my life. I wound up divorced and alone, then tried to pick the pieces of my life back up and glue them back together. After that, I spent about 3 years mired down, still trying to hide from everything in life, until I made the honest decision to stop living like that and find myself again. First place I went...into the woods.

Almost instantly I found the sort of peace and serenity that I had been missing for the past decade that I had spent trying to play by the rules of a society when I never really fit in anyway. I'm tired of doing that. I need my own path and it seems I've found it again. Ever since that day, the trail and the wilderness has consumed my thoughts from the time I wake up until the time I go to sleep and often farther, into my dreams.

To all of us who search...may it never end until we find peace within ourselves.

Nina
05-09-2009, 11:30
I think..."Normal life" is twisted, people get tangeled-and then "I gotta get the %#@& outa here", turns into a gear list, and some of us are just weird