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Greatest Outdoor experience you have ever had

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  • Greatest Outdoor experience you have ever had

    How about the best outdoor experience in your life. You know what I am talking about, that one moment that you understood why you were there, that that was something greater then humanity, when you could reach out and touch God, regardless of what He, She, It, was.

    I experienced it twice in my life, Once in South America living with a "primitive stone age" tribe, and once again on top of a small peak in South Dakota.

    You tell me yours, and later I'll share mine (I have to dig up my old journals)
    "If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it." Lyndon B. Johnson

  • #2
    Being homeless on the streets of Albany, penniless and hungry, in the dead of winter January 1999.

    Needless to say, if it wasn't for that, I wouldn't be half the adult child I am today .


    • #3
      Greatest, but not so great...

      It actually took a life-threatening experience to make me feel really alive. I was bushwhacking alone form Hunter's pass to Nippletop. I passed through a huge blow-down field, with rather large trees, (large for the altitude, I thought). It got to the point wher I would have to scale ten feet of logs, then drop down between that log and another that was three feet away. It took forever to cover 100 ft. My clothes were getting ripped and I was getting poked and jabbed by sticks, and was bleeding from some of the wounds. When I was smack in the middle of this and exhausted, i had a realization that i was not going to get out. To be sure, for a brief period, I though I was done for. As Ironic as it sounds, It was an exhiliarating feeling, I laughed uncontrollably, and screamed, not to be heard but for some other reason, as if to say "F)@k you, Fate, you can't bring this boy down, even if your going to kill me!". I found I was not really scared and was actually pleased that I would not be dying on a highway because someone crossed the lane while trying to figure out if there was mustard on his sandwich, instead of paying attantion to the road. Somehow dying there seemeed to make more sense, and some purpose to it; exactly what purpose, I don't know.

      Maybe I have issues, but I really felt alive when I though I was at the foot of deaths door. Only on 2 or 3 other occasions in my life have I felt so alive.

      Though we rush ahead
      To save our time
      We are only what we feel.

      Neil Young


      • #4
        Yellowstone National Park

        I must say that when I was in Yellowstone NAtional Park. I went out there to see a grizzly bear and I did just that. The encounter scared the hell out of me but when it was over I felt so alive. Kinda like Rondack's expierence. Here in the

        thread if you want to read it!



        • #5
          As a boy (11 years of age), a buddy and I wanted to spend a summer in the woods on the Tug Hill Plateau near Highmarket. I had been able to explore those woods extensively as my Grandparents lived there. My old man was cool enough to give me the thumbs up on the idea and so the stage was set for a summer of a lifetime. During the first week in the woods, my buddy and I made a pact to live off from the land for the rest of that summer...only eating the fish and small game that we could catch. We did very well by our pact for quite a while (what seemed to be weeks). We did many bushwhacks to scout out new food sources in the following week but things became scarce. We were bound and determined not to break the pact, so we forged on with empty stomachs. The old man would check up on us periodically but we would always avoid the food topic. The end of our journey was nearing. We had been without food for nearly a week! A mutual agreement was hashed out one evening around the campfire. We would break the pact that evening to feed our growling guts by heading to hunting camp and scrounging something up. After a long bushwhack through the woods, we finally arrived at hunting camp...tired, hungry and ready to get the hell out of the woods! We flipped on the lights and tried to ferret out some chow...TO NO AVAIL! There was nothing to eat or drink at all...except a case of Genesee Beer. We did what any starving boy of 11 would do...we drank the whole damn case! Hoping to get a little nourishment from it, we ended up getting a little more than that! We got damn drunk! During our drunken stupor, we stumbled back into the woods to find camp...
          The next morning we awoke at the foot of a beautiful waterfall near a large ridge, no where near our camp...hung over as all hell! Among the beauty of that place is where we stayed for the next few days. We fashioned a lean-to out of some branches and built a fire ring and a dam to catch more fish. We did end up coming out after those few last days enlightened in many ways...and ready to tackle life with a fresh new perspective


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          • #6
            Back in the summer of 1986......

            I was in the Army, stationed at a nuke site as an MP. We were in a pretty isolated and desolate section of the Rhine Valley.

            Me and several buddies had 3 days off and no money (must have been near the end of the month). We packed up all our gear, some food, and a sh*^load of beer and walked off into the woods. We spent 3 days away from everything. We only walked about 5-6 miles into the woods, but it was far enough.

            In a strange land, as a kid (of 18) with 5-6 of my best friends, living off the land and just enjoying each others company and the surroundings. It may not sound like much, but it had a great impact on me.

            It was a pretty stressful exsistance being in the army, having to jump when they said jump, working daily around nukes, but for 3 days, it was just me and my buds, enjoying nature and each other. We were on top of the world back then and invinsable. Life will never be that simple again and I treasure the memory of it.
            "I can feel your anger. It gives you focus. It makes you stronger. " Supreme Chancellor


            • #7
              Backpacking for a week in Kluane, Yukon. Four days backpacking the Long Range Mountain traverse in Gros Morne Park, Newfoundland.


              • #8
                If a tree falls in the forest ...

                I posted this on VFTT a little over a year ago in a similar thread. Since it happened in the Adirondacks, and because it is my most Zen like bit of enlightenment I have had in the wilderness I will repeat it here.

                Most people have heard the age-old riddle and imponderable that goes "If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make any sound?" On a 1976 Adirondack backpacking trip I learned the answer.

                I was hiking alone and returning to Elk Lake having completed climbing the 5 Dix mountains. It was a sunny and calm summer day. As I was hiking I heard a very unexpected, loud, and sustained whoosh. I turned to see an enormous tree falling in the deep woods about 30 yards off the trail. It certainly made a sound, but of course I was there. Proves nothing, right? But before the tumult of that great falling tree had subsided an even greater cacophony drowned out the sound of the falling tree. All manner of birds, squirrels, chipmunks, insects, and other critters within earshot were now raising their voices in response. They had all heard that tree fall and were now talking amongst themselves about it. It was then that I realized the answer to the riddle. There is never "no one there". The premise of the riddle is invalid and human-centric. All forests have wildlife that live there. They will hear any tree that falls in their forest.

                An interesting side note on the tree's fall. It did not fall to the side as most would envision. It looked like the fall of a high rise building that had been imploded for demolition. The trunk and branches literally fell straight down on its own roots. The trunk must have been hollow and rotted. For some reason it decided to give up the ghost on that calm day just as I was passing. I am glad it did.


                • #9
                  Walking with Gods Children

                  Many Years Ago, I was invited to stay with a traditional tribe of the Kayapo Indians living by a stream near the Japura River in Brazil. They were considered a "primitive" tribe by the non-indian people, probably because of their life style. Only two members of the tribe ever went into "civilization" to trade for goods. At the time I was being taught the traditional ways of my people (Lakota, often incorrectly called sioux) by one of the holy men of our nation. He had a connection with these people and went there every couple of years and I had the good fortune to accompany him. If I could, I would return there today.

                  The village of these Kayapo people is about 1/4 mile up a stream that flowed into the Japura River which flows into the Amazon. We arrived there by waterplane/canoe/hike. There were about 90 people in the village from the eldest, Mahani, in his 80's to infants. These were a very simple, innocent people. As long as there basic needs, food, water and shelter were provided for, they were happy and in tune with the earth that provided all of their needs. Everyone depended on each other for survival and comfort. There was no accumalation of possesions, no jealousy, no greed and no crime. Everyone shared in the chores that had to be done and in all the times I was there, I never heard a complaint. There was heat and insects, but with potions that were made from plants, the insects were kept pretty much at bay.

                  The men wore pouches and the women were bare breasted and their was no self consiousness or sexual hang ups. The children were for the most part naked until about 12 years old. People bathed in the stream without clothes and there were no problems. Although they were polygamous, with a couple of exceptions they practiced monogomy. Since the most important key to survival was children, the women would lay with a man if she were not "married" in order to bring children into the tribe.

                  What was amazing was the calmness that these people had, their faith in Creator to take care of their needs, and the unselfish devotion that they had for each other. They were respectful of all things, the forest which provide some of their food and their shelter, and the animals which were sacrificed to feed them. Much of my diet while there was parrot.

                  When I first got there, I noticed that the stream they swam in was filled with Piranha. Sensing my fear, I was told that the piranha did not harm humans (even if cut), it was a week before I mustered the courage to swim in the stream (had no choice, was being shamed by 6 year olds and women). Trust me, anything you hear about piranhas eating a human in minutes is pure fiction.

                  I realized that these people were very much like the people that Columbus had encountered when he landed in North America. It was he who named them "In Dios" which means "Of God".

                  I learned from them that if I take life, and strip it to its simplest parts, that nothing is too difficult "by the inch its a cinch, by the yard, it's hard". As long as my needs are taken care of, there is nothing to be stressed about, all the rest is frosting on the cake.

                  When I left those simple, spiritual, people, I wasuch humbler and a much happier young man then when we had arrived. I knew for sure that there was a God, and that he manifested himself all around me, in the trees, grass, rocks, animals, etc. I knew that I was just a member of another species, no better then any of the others but much more dangerous then any. I learned from those people that more important then the power to take and to destroy, was the power to be a caretaker and to be a part of the earth, rather then an intruder.

                  I arrived there as a boy and I left as a man.I went there with notions, and came away with truths. From that day to the present, I have felt the presence of the Creator whenever I have gone to the wilderness. I feel it more in some places then in others. The land sings the loudest for me in the Black Hills, the Badlands and the Adirondacks.

                  That was the most defining time in my life.

                  Mitikuye Oyasin (We are all related)
                  Last edited by redhawk; 01-30-2007, 04:33 PM.
                  "If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it." Lyndon B. Johnson


                  • #10
                    Many years later

                    As I said, there were two defining incidents in my life. This is the second, it began on a hill in SD in 1994 and ended in Sequoia National Park, CA a little over a year and a half later.

                    But first let me set the stage. In 1993, I was diagnosed with two forms of cancer and given a year to live if I took radiation AND chemotherapy. At that time in my life, I was tired, I was OK with death and I sure did not want to finish my years debilitated from alien chemicals and stuff in my body. I chose to return to South Dakota and spend my last few months among my people and on our sacred ground, the Paha Sapa, the Black Hills. For those who do not know, I am Lakota, Miniconjou Lakota. I was born Lakota, have lived Lakota and will die Lakota, proudly.

                    But, Creator was not finished with me yet. Evidently there was more work to be done, and I did not know yet when it will be finished, or for that matter what it was. At any rate, after some ceremony and Lakota Medicine, the cancer chose to leave my body and i am still cancer free to this day (tomorrow is not here so I will not worry about it today). So in 1994 I was up on a hill in Whitewood, Sd (it was a BIG hill, but not really big enough to be a mountain) in a place where I spent so much time, the local people began calling it Redhawk Canyon. I could hike up there from my house in about an hour and a half.

                    It was a wonderful place, a place where I could see our Sacred Mountain, Paha Mato (Bear Butte) far to the south, and with the exception of a ribbon that was interstate I90, there were no signs of civilization. It was a very sacred place where the land sang and my ancestors had walked, less then a century ago. After the diagnosis and the recovery, I was troubled in mind and in spirit and my introduction to mortality and subsquent reprieve had caused a lot of reflection and introspective examination.

                    I was feeling much guilt. Guilt for the recovery for one thing, but also guilt for leaving the people many years ago. I was trained to be able to carry on and teach traditional and spiritual ways and yet I had spent most of my life living and working in the white world. I had lived and prayed as a Lakota, but had not stayed among the people. I had been up on this mountain for a couple of days, not on Hanbleecha (Vision Quest), just camping and trying to find direction and purpose.

                    I was leaning against a tree, just beginning to doze when I heard the cry of a Hawk, a red tailed hawk. I opened my eyes and saw him land on a branch a couple of trees away. This is the entry from my journal of what happened next.

                    "I saw my brother the hawk today
                    He chose not to fly away

                    I asked him what my duty was
                    “To Learn” he replied

                    “What am I to learn?”
                    “Respect and Understanding”

                    “What am I to respect and understand?”
                    “All creatures of this earth” he replied

                    “What am I to do with this knowledge?”

                    “Whom shall I teach?”
                    “All who are willing to learn and especially those who are not”

                    “Why me?”
                    “Because the Creator gave life to all that they might learn and pass on His Will,”

                    “When will I be finished?”
                    “Never. Each day we grow, we learn. If we do not learn, we do not grow”

                    “What will my reward be?”
                    “Wisdom, patience, understanding and compassion. These are the gifts of The Creator, the gifts that nurture us and keep us close to the Spirit World.”

                    “What is the greatest gift I can give?”
                    “Understanding, for with it lies the power to soften the heart and mind of the intolerant.”

                    “With whom should I begin?”
                    “With Yourself!”

                    I saw my brother the hawk today,
                    Those were his words before he flew away."

                    After the hawk flew away, I rubbed my eyes, wondering if i had been imagining it. I arose and walked to the tree and at the base of it were five feathers, along with a tuft of what turned out to be fur from a brown bear.

                    A cycle began that started by my taking the "medicine" that had been left for me and my story of the visit with the hawk to Fools Crow, a Lakota Holy Man. Visiting him when I went to see him was Urandi, a "Blackfella" which is what the Australian Aboriginal people call themselves. Fools Crow had me share my story with Urandi present as well as many of the feelings I was having. It was from Urandi that I learned about "Walk About". It is an abotiginal belief that when one is lost, they start walking until they meet themselves.

                    The following spring I embarked on what was to become the second most important trip I had ever made in my life. I left from Whitewood, SD and headed west for Sequoia National Park. I lived primarily off the land, Bishwhacked and followed old trails, seeing very few pwoplwe in the course of seven months. I had no place that I HAD to be and no time that I HAD to be there. It was the backpack of a lifetime. I am sure that I stood in places that no person had stood in a long time, maybe ever. I sipped from streams that were crystal clear and sweet tasting, I skinny dipped in lakes and streams in the shadows of great peaks. I humbled myself in many cathedrals whose walls were trees and ceilings were the stars. I saw elk and mule deer, otter and beaver, badger and mountain sheep, and yes I walked with bears!

                    Somewhere in Inyo National Forest (N36° 48' 15.12"
                    W117° 57' 38.61" to be exact) I met myself, face to face and spent a week walking in my own company.

                    I continued on and finally arrived at my destination, among the Grandfathers, the majestic Sequoias. Man can learn a lot from trees, if only he will stop and take the time to listen. We must learn to listen, and then we must listen to learn. That is the one great piece of wisdom that I have to pass on.

                    I have heard the whispering of the great trees, I have felt their breath on my cheek. I have seen the heart of a glacier, pulsing, hot icy blue. I have heard the voice of the Hawk, seen the birth of a dragonfly, and did I tell you? I have walked with bears!
                    "If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it." Lyndon B. Johnson


                    • #11
                      have a couple of stories but I’ll share this one now. A few years ago my son (then 23) and his friend Ron went camping/hiking with me in the High Peaks in early April. The first day we climbed Cascade and Porter with snowshoes on 4-5 feet of snow wearing t-shirts because of 50 degree weather. The following day we hiked into Rocky Falls lean to on the Indian Pass brook near Heart Lake. We crossed the brook, dropped our gear, and attempted to climb Marshall up the Iroquois Pass crossover. We snowshoed up the pass climbing frozen waterfalls in 50 degree weather. There were spots that you could look through the ice on the climbs and see water gushing underneath and it added to the adventure. The sky was crystal clear and the views were great as we bushwhacked over to Marshall, falling in many spruce traps. On the way back we slid for a thousand feet down the frozen stream bed.
                      Back at the brook we rock hopped over to the lean to, leaving our snowshoes high on the bank on the opposite shore. After we cooked dinner we lounged around listening to the sound of the falls nearby. All of a sudden I noticed that the sound of the falls had turned to more of a dull roar and the stones that we had hopped over on were now under water. It also started to rain lightly as darkness fell. Looking at the topo map I realized our only way out was across that brook and a dread fell on me. I tried to sleep that night and it was very difficult with the roaring of the falls, the sound of the rain and the knowledge that we had to somehow get across that torrent to get home. I wondered how I was going to explain to Ron’s parents that I had lost their son in an accident in the mountains.
                      At the first sign of light after a long sleepless night) I geared up and basically swam through waist deep slushy snow along the river bank to find a way out. About a ¼ of a mile downstream I found a wide section of the stream where the current looked less than anywhere else. I “swam” back to the lean to and woke the boys up and told them we had to get moving fast.
                      Looking across to the other shore we could see that, of the 3 pairs of snowshoes, only 2 shoes were left hanging over the rushing water. This really added to our sense of dread. I told the boys that if we got out of there with our lives we could forget the gear.

                      We packed quick as we could and followed my tracks down the bank and stopped at the place I had found. The stream at that point was now about 75-80 feet wide and waist deep in the middle with a very strong current. It was our only choice. I took every piece of rope that we had and tied them all together, attaching one end to a tree on the bank. I tied the other end onto my pack and undid my waist belt so the pack would swing back to shore if I had to slide out of it midstream.
                      As I got ready to enter the water we all stopped and joined together in prayer. I thanked God for all of His creation and especially the mountains and forests. I thanked Him for all of the beauty that we had experienced and for the power that was contained in the mountains. I thanked Him for allowing us to see the power that was all around us and asked for help and strength in getting across the great obstacle that was before us. It was a solemn time. Then I stepped into the water.

                      The current was so strong it tried to knock me off my feet every time I picked up my foot to take a step. In the middle it was up past my crotch making for some thrills. Ice chunks were floating by along with sticks and other debris. Step by careful step I made it to the other shore and attached the other end of the rope to a small tree on the shore, stretching it tight. I saw a large rock in the middle of the stream about 100 yards downstream from the rope and climbed out onto it so as to be able to help if someone was swept off their feet. With great care the boys made it across and after a long posthole trip up to the trail we made it out to the parking lot and home. That trip really changed the way I thought about the mountains.
                      I'm not a Hippie, just a well groomed Mountain Man.


                      • #12
                        more weird stuff...

                        .... I was camping at the Flowed Lands Landing (the Lake Colden side of FL) at an old lean-to site. Two kids from Ohio joined me. I was trying to sleep. I heard this funny sound, kind of like creeking wook but a crunching sound. Well, because I was sore or overheated or whatever I could not sleep and all I could hear was this sound. Of course, over time, it amplified. I laid there for nearly two hours, sleepless, listening to this thing. I was kind of scared and alarmed. It was instinctive I guess; an unidentified sound had to be identified.

                        It dawned on me, a grub or worm of somekind was burroughing its way through a tree. I have no way to confirm my conclusion, but I am certain that that is what it was. It was enough for me at the time in any event, and I soon fell sound asleep.

                        ( I guesss htis should be under wildlife experiences, but hey!)

                        Though we rush ahead
                        To save our time
                        We are only what we feel.

                        Neil Young


                        • #13
                          Mine was at band camp...