Archive for October, 2008

My Side of the Mountain

We’ve been waxing nostalgic around the office today, recalling the book (and film) “My Side of the Mountain” by Jean Craighead George (the link is to Amazon, where, apparently, you can buy the book for as little as one penny). The tale follows the adventures of young Sam Gribley as he runs away from home to the Catskills, lives in a hollow tree, and ends up BFF’s with a falcon and a weasel.

We all read a lot of books and saw a lot of movies growing up, but this one really stuck with us for some reason. It’s really inspiring and empowering for one thing. The idea of running off and living in the wilderness with no bossy grownups around must be universally appealing to kids.

Anyway, it might be below most of your reading levels, but it’s worth a look. Maybe give it a quick read and pass it on to a younger sibling or something?


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South side approach to Mt Adams

South side approach to Mt Adams

Last week I thought a lot about the hiker who was lost on Mt. Adams. Search teams had been looking for him for five days without luck when a dog team finally discovered him alive on the Round the Mountain Trail.  When 27 year-old Derek Mamoyac’s car was found at the Cold Springs trailhead, local news outlets reported (probably after interviewing his family) that he often struck out alone because he didn’t know anyone who could keep up with him.

The romantic thrill of solo adventure has its precedent in heroes of my own. An image of John Muir comes to mind. He tosses a couple of bags of tea and some biscuits in a scarf, ties it around a stick, rests it across his shoulder and charges off into the Sierra. I think of my own foolish adventures hitch hiking through the American west, sighting distant mountains from the highway and letting wanderlust get the better of me as I sauntered off through high pastures until hitting treeline just before dark; the last thing I can make out on the trail is the paw print of a bit cat.

Age helps clarify youthful desire for solitude in the wild. The hardest thing to hear about when there’s a search on for a hiker is the predicament of the family and friends who are waiting for news. The anguished stress in their voices as they relate their hopes and fears is almost too much to hear. It was quite a surprise when the young man was found alive on Mt Adams. He reported that when he ran out of food, eating centipedes and drinking from streams kept him alive and impressed his rescuers with his strong spirit. His family might be impressed if he takes a few more precautions next time he heads out alone, which he probably will. I know I would–I still hike alone on occasion, but reel in my ambitions compared to hiking, climbing, skiing, adventuring with a team.

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Comical Camper Comments

According to lovetheoutdoors.com, these are actual comments left on U. S. Forest Service registration sheets and comment cards by backpackers completing wilderness camping trips:

“A small deer came into my camp and stole my bag of pickles. Is there a way I can get reimbursed? Please call.”

“Escalators would help on steep uphill sections.”

“Instead of a permit system or regulations, the Forest Service needs to reduce worldwide population growth to limit the number of visitors to wilderness.”

“Trails need to be wider so people can walk while holding hands.”

“Ban walking sticks in wilderness. Hikers that use walking sticks are more likely to chase animals.”

“Found a smoldering cigarette left by a horse.”

“Trails need to be reconstructed. Please avoid building trails that go uphill.”

“Too many bugs and leeches and spiders and spider webs. Please spray the wilderness to rid the area of these pests.”

“Please pave the trails so they can be plowed of snow in the winter.”

“Chair lifts need to be in some places so that we can get to wonderful views without having to hike to them.”

“The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals.”

“Reflectors need to be placed on trees every 50 feet so people can hike at night with flashlights.”

“Need more signs to keep area pristine.”

“A McDonald’s would be nice at the trailhead.”

“The places where trails do not exist are not well marked.”

“Too many rocks in the mountains.”

We’d like to think some of these people were joking, but you never know.

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Caldera People

I want to thank the expedition team from Mt Scott Learning Center for taking a chance on the weather (which turned out to be superb) and making the Central Oregon Expedition a memorable adventure.  Almost no one escaped without at least a mild cold, but there was so many high points to the weekend–clear skies filled with uncountable stars, otter sightings, solitude in the forest, exploring the ancient volcano of Fort Rock, one-chord songs on an out of tune guitar around the campfire–I could go on and on and on. We’re looking forward to another camping trip on the coast in the spring. A special thanks to Julie and Kyle who gave up their weekend to spend extra time with Mt Scott students. There are a ton of great photos on the gallery page of the GOA website (GreatOutdoorsAcademy.org), so have a look if you dare.

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Just wanted to share some of the writing we’ll be featuring in our upcoming third edition of The Expedition Journal, the nation’s only magazine featuring young people’s nature writing. Do you have a tale of adventure or reflection to tell? Drop us a line here and we’ll set you on the write track–ha, get it?

The river’s flowing melody, the rustle of the breeze through the leaves.
The churring, chirping, and singing of the birds.
All a part of nature’s hidden melody, unheard by the loud, the carefree, and the ignorant. Only in man’s utter silences does mother nature truly sing.

The sun’s shimmer on the water, the leaves dancing in the wind.
The ripples of the grass on the windswept plains.
The swooping of the birds and the bugs.
All the dust flowing in the gust.
All a step in nature’s dance.


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The KBOO Youth Collective invited me down to their studios for the presentation of a radio piece produced by Torren Taylor on an expedition on the Olympic Coast this past summer. I was really impressed with these young people and the energy they put into their radio work. Here’s a link to the interview:

Great Outdoors Academy on The Underground

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