Thursday, April 18, 2013

wilderness confessions

I think we all need a silly post right about now. So here you go. Wilderness Confessions, Volume I.

1. Once at the end of a harrowing wilderness ranger trip, where I hiked many miles, cleaned up much trash, and answered endless questions ("How heavy is your pack? Aren't you afraid out here?") I was on my last half mile to the pickup. I saw two floppy hats approaching. I knew what it would mean! Hours of talking! I hid in the woods so I wouldn't have to talk to them.

2. I'm tired of reading about women helpless in the outdoors. No offense, there are some great writers out there who overcame some hurdles. But there are women out there who never got addicted to anything, didn't have a horrible childhood, and didn't need a man to move to Alaska. Let's hear more about them!

3. My friend and I almost started a forest fire in the Sierras years ago. It was windy. We were lucky. Enough said.

4. I told some people a cross country hike was easy without taking into consideration that I was a) younger than them and b) I  had been doing it all summer. They glared when they saw me again. Oops!

5. I once told my co-worker, Jim, that we had farther to run than we really did to see if I could beat him in the daily run. (We all did this on the firefighting crew to demoralize the others)

6. I was part of a plot to smuggle an alligator into a pickup once (nobody was harmed). Other plots included staging a crime scene, writing fake love letters to our crew boss from someone named Barbie, and mousetraps in Jack's slippers. Oh and painting our co-worker Gary's toenails pink while he slept on the couch.

7. I once broke up with somebody because he liked to sit on the couch all day instead of go outside. Also, I had bigger shoulders and could do more pull-ups. I broke up with someone else because he lived illegally on Forest Service land, bathing in the creeks. There just did not seem to be much hope for a sustainable future. Especially in winter.

8.  My various wilderness nicknames have been: Target, Darted Monkey, Wilderness Witch, Panther Babe and Marcher.

9. I wish I could still run marathons.

10.  I was supposed to burn down all the illegal cabins I found in the Alaska wilderness, but there was one, a secret and wonderful treehouse that I turned around and walked away from and never told a soul. I don't regret it.

Add to the list!


  1. Sometimes when I'm on a backpacking trip, I dig my cat hole too small. When that happens, I don't dig it bigger to accommodate things, I just pile some extra rocks or branches on top of the dirt.

  2. I should have known you are a fellow cabin killer. The difference is that I burned down all the ones I was supposed to.

  3. Not much to add to the list, except to say AMEN to #2 (this means you, WILD.) Good writing but enough of the angst and helplessness. There really are competent, adjusted women out in the wilderness.

  4. Fun idea!

    1. I once guzzled a bunch of water straight out of the Colorado River. It happened amid some nighttime debauchery on a river trip through Westwater Canyon, because of a joking dare. A big Nalgene full. I'm amazed I didn't end up getting really sick, but nothing became of it.

    2. I totes moved to Alaska for a dude. Or because a dude talked me into it. I'm not ashamed of that. The dude didn't work out but Alaska did. I will go back someday.

    3. I quietly hope I'll make it through life without ever attempting a road marathon. However, I know I'll eventually be talked into it someday and it will hurt a lot.

    4. I am also quietly jealous of a job that allows you to hike through the woods and set illegal cabins on fire. I told Jill M. as much last month.

  5. love love love this post, mary. chapters for a book, eh? and i TOTALLY agree with you about the women in the wild memoirs thing. it's making me nutso. i can't go anywhere without seeing stuff like that and i want to hurl. but your memoir, now that's one i'd be all over.
    phone date soon?

  6. I've been having fun for the past hour "getting to know you." Thanks for stopping by my blog today - I'd like to think that if I didn't have a husband and 4 kids, my life would look more like yours.

    I put myself through college working summers at a canoe outfitters in the BWCA. I miss waking up in nature every day...

  7. I will (occasionally) put rocks in my backpacking partner's packs, just ferscuz.

    I once bathed in a waterfall - with conventional shampoo and soap, lathering up like a Breck commercial. (I'm only comforted by the fact that I was 18 years old and it was in Maryland, not a pristine alpine wilderness.)

    I pitched my tent in human poo once.



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