I was communicating my journey and a bright fellow named Jake asked to go deeper into what made my adventures into the Wild so trans-formative. This made me think about what does transformation look like and how do you describe it in a post? These questions or feedback are why I enjoy sharing my work with a small group of people. Thunderous Moments has grown incrementally through these exchanges and I am curious to see where it leads as we continue down this path.
Here is my first attempt at describing Transformation on the trail:
Step 1 Question group think and Societal Norms
The Transformation starts before you ever hit the trail. First you have many people around you telling you “it’s crazy to go out into the wild alone”. Asking you “What will you do if something happens?” and just straight out telling you “You won’t survive”. if you persevere with this negative feedback you are learning to overcome group think and learning to question societal norms.
Step 1 Complete
Step 2 Total Digital Disconnect
The next transformation occurs for me as I approach the trail in my car, I loose cell service about 30 min to about 45 min before even stopping the car and beginning the hike. At this point you realize you are now disconnected anxiety kicks in at first but soon it subsides and a sense of peace descends. This still happens that sudden disconnect causes anxiety. For me I always call my wife and tell her I love her and that I will miss her, for me it’s a nice to be connected to her all the time even though in reality we are lucky if we send each other a text or phone each other more then once per day, never the less she is the first thing I think about when the Digital Disconnect occurs. I talk myself through it by reminding myself that only a short 25 years ago no such connection occurred and and the world was just find
Step 2 Complete
Step 3 You Are It
Then as I walk away from my car I realize that I am it. That means that I am totally reliant on my physical body to get me everywhere I am going from here on out. If I am 80 km from the road it is up to my body to get me back to the car there will be no assistance no bus or taxi will drive by and pick me up. Again Anxiety kicks in but then as you walk, you must keep walking, you realize that you walk everyday sure you take short cuts by using a car or a taxi or a plane. You were built for this exact purpose to walk long distances over long periods to be able to find food and hunt animals. Walking for long distances in the wild is how our ancestors survived and sure we lo longer need to do this to survive but if you know you can do it, it gives you a sense of Freedom and Independence.
Step 3 Complete
Step 4 Create Fire
If you have ever been car camping before you have likely made a fire, you went and bought some pre-dried firewood had some newspapers, and maybe even had some lighter fluid and started your fire. In the wild it’s a little different, if the wood is dry then their is likely a fire ban on so you won’t be allowed to have a fire anyway but if there is no fire ban the easiest wood to find will be wet. So you get to start a fire with perhaps damp wood and maybe even in the rain. The feeling of making my own fire all alone in the woods when it was starting too ran was indescribable, really I am not sure how to describe as a feeling of accomplishment does not do the feeling justice. The sitting there as the fire burned and the rain continued, in that moment I knew that I could stay warm and cook my food if nothing else.
Step 4 Complete
Step 5 Dark Night of the Soul
Once you have made camp and it starts to get dark, I realize that I am all alone. The closest other person is likely about 5km away at best if I screamed no would likely hear me. But yet there is this fear it’s almost instinctual I can only describe it as feeling of being very vulnerable and craving the safety of numbers. As I get into the tent I quickly realize that it offer no real protection compared to modern human structures. But then again when I think about it my house only seems safe in actuality it could also be broken into quite easily so this is not that different it’s just a story I tell myself to make me feel better. This explanation makes me feel better until I hear a twig snap in the forest and my heart stops, all my senses become hyper sensitive and so that I can her every leaf rustling in the wind, every small and no quite so small animal that is bounding around in the forest, I can hear and feel every beat of my heart. Then at some point during all this I fell asleep and because the next thing I remember is opening my eyes and seeing light outside. At that point I know I survived the night. That morning after feeling is perhaps best described as Euphoria but the strength of the feeling has a direct correlation to how intense the discomfort the night before was.
Step 5 Complete
Step 6 Experience Magic
I remember seeing my first moose, at first I just saw the head and a bit if the neck. The rest of the moose was in the lake. Then as the moose approached shore the giant animal breached the water and clambered onto land. I remember just thinking how magical that moment was, and how I would never experience something like that sitting behind a desk all day, sure I could YouTube it but that is not the same experience. I also remember seeing first Blue Heron take off from the lake with it’s long legs floating behind it’s body and thinking the same thing.
Step 6 Complete
Step 7 Knowing Deep Inside that You Can Be Free
When I stepped off the trail and arrived back at my car I knew I had made it out successfully and I knew that I could actually survive in the wild. That feeling of knowing that you can do this stays with you a long time after leaving. It’s best described as a new found feeling of being Free, that carries over into other parts of your life.
As I wrote this 2 things occurred to me I am not sure why I used steps but I liked so I have kept it for now, and each of these steps is what I would call a Thunderous Moment which is the name of our company but not something I spend enough time explaining or describing.