My Journey into the Wilderness
Updated: Jul 30, 2021
It sounds cliché but I'm not sure how else to say it .... Nature was always in my DNA.
My older brother and I in a meadow on Mokelume Peak. Sierra Nevada.
As a youngster I could entertain myself outdoors for hours and hours. I was often barefoot getting muddy, imagining myself as an explorer and a wildman living in the jungle. When I was eleven, I went to scout camp in the Sierras. As I grabbed my gear to head home at the end of the week, I got smacked with a wave of emotion, realizing I felt at home out there and would be sad to leave my camp behind.
My dad and I on our way up Mount Shasta.
In my teenage years I wasn't sure what I wanted to do for a career. My thoughts were perhaps becoming a logger or a wildland firefighter, all I really knew was I wanted to be way out in the woods. In college I found a major called Recreation Management. Some of the classes were Backpacking, Mountain Biking, Canyoneering, Canoeing etc. I figured this was up my alley. College was not my favorite experience but I really enjoyed the hands-on learning parts of my degree. What got me through college was getting a part time job at a campus outdoor rental store. It was there that I made down to earth friends and got the perk of having access to free outdoor equipment.
In between semesters In 2012, I got a job as a “Trailwalker” for the Anasazi Foundation. We took “at risk youth” into the backcountry of Arizona and practiced survival skills. During my first week someone told me, “I heard you're killing it here”. My confidence grew as I realized my knowledge about the outdoors and abilities to relate with people had a purpose. It was a very hard job but I loved my experience. Anasazi helped narrow my focus from modern camping into more traditional outdoor living skills.
Anasazi crew near the Gila River 2017.
After college I was still searching for what I wanted to do for a living. I spent time working for the Utah Conservation Corps doing habitat restoration and various projects for public land agencies. I also spent a season at a ski resort, worked with youth at another program, and built rock climbing gyms. No matter what I was doing I just wanted to get back to the bushcraft skills. Eventually, I got a full time position as a Law Enforcement Park Ranger for the Utah State Parks. I hated it! On paper it looked cool, but day to day it was just a government job, boring and I wasn't interested in handing out citations. Disillusioned, I went back to the Anasazi Foundation. Slowing down, cooking on the fire, helping people and trekking in the Arizona wilderness. Again, it was life changing.
Left- Ranger Hunt and I, Utah State Parks. Center - UCC Chainsaw Crew, Southern Utah (notice the fires and wood chip photoshopped in - not my idea) Right- Checking in with bands, Anasazi Foundation 2017.
Also during this time, I started attending primitive skills gatherings where all sorts of people come together to share knowledge of the old ways. I felt like I was home with my tribe as soon as I got there. Later I was able to start teaching at some of these gatherings. Thanks to Patrick Farneman who invited me to teach at Between the Rivers Gathering. I also began teaching the teens program at Rabbitstick gathering with my friend Ford Erickson (thanks Wescott and Didi for bringing us in). Later Dan Baird from California Survival School invited me to help teach at his summer program for kids called Wilderskills. I wasn’t new to teaching skills, but now I I felt like I was finally a genuine instructor.
I’ve found that practicing bushcraft, primitive skills and wilderness survival can really connect you to nature and make your time camping more fun and meaningful, all while boosting your confidence. I love ditching modern gear and adding traditional camping gear from the golden days, or even better, building my gear from what I find, connecting me deeper to the land and my ancestors. Sharing these skills has fired me up! If ever i'm down, these skills brings me to my true self. The wilderness has become my foundation. My mission is to help others have similar experiences in the wild, gain confidence, and to understand humanity better by learning ancient skills! I am extremely grateful for my parents for getting me involved with camping, for those that helped introduce me to the primitive skills world, and for the creator for giving us this earth.
Fire Plow, Anasazi 2017.