Getting back into this after many years.

6:54 a.m. on August 26, 2009 (EDT)
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Let me introduce myself, I am Trebek, a 46 year old man who recently moved from central Texas with no real mountains, no wilderness areas; no moose, lions, bears, wolves, ect.. (Snakes, wild hogs, gators, and scorpions I'm used to). I am a big dude 6'3" 280 lbs, and do not like to hike if I can avoid it. I do have wilderness experience at a young age, and learned basic camping skills from the Boy Scouts, and even hiked 50 miles at Philmont many years ago.

Needless to say, I now live close to the Wasatch mountain range in Northern Utah, which is a pretty nice large and little used wilderness area. I can be outside human contact in 20 minutes on my dirt-bike. But it's all foreign and a little scary to me after all these years, of being in the settled world for my entire life. I car camped a couple times in the past two years pretty close to the trail head, with other people, and enjoyed it a bit, but my fears of the wild animals (lots of lions in these parts), ruined it for me.

But I persisted, and was resolved to face these fears, so I decided to face them deep in the woods, and face them alone. So last weekend I drove my truck about 10 miles into the mountains solo, and decided to conquer my fears. I was armed with my Aussie Shepherd, my 30-30, and a bottle of Jim Beam: Since the canyon I drove up was fairly rough and lacked water, and fishing opps, I had 1000's of acres all to myself.

After a few minute at the camping spot, the silence and reality of being so far away of civilization hit me. My dog was having a blast, but I must admit that I was wary of every unfamiliar sound. So I started getting into the swing of things, setting up camp, sorting out the stuff I need for the night, hanging up the hammock, building the fire, which did help mellow things out. Then I just chilled out and read a few chapters of a good book (Lonesome Dove), and started to groove with the sounds of the wilderness and watching for mountain lions that were supposed to be all over the steep cliffs and mountaintops that were surrounding me. It was beautiful!

I pulled lightly on the Jim Beam bottle since I didn't want the drink to muddy the grand experience of just chillin' up in the Northern Rockies.

I still remembered my fire starting skills and quickly made a large fire as the paranoia of dusk set in. I remembered all the fire safety lessons taught back in the old scouting day, and settled down to a wonderful night hanging close to the protection of the campfire.

The stars were magnificent as I opened up a can of beans which slowly started bubbling at the edge of the stone fire ring I constructed. Then I realized the potential of getting an unwanted bear visit. After chugging down the beans and sterilizing the can in the fire, I waited near the fire with my lever action 30-30, cradled in my arms for the imagined bears to come try something. After a while, I started feeling silly for being fearful, and leaned the unchambered gun on a nearby tree and reached for the guitar and the whiskey then proceeded to give the wilderness and bears a concert under the stars which lasted for several hours. Once my fingers and voice got tired,I spent another hour watching the millions of stars (dark night/no moon) and started feeling a bit sleepy. So I crawled in the back of my tiny truck camper and slept soundly for the next 7 hours.

Overall the experience was a beautiful reaquaintence with the wilderness, and I fully plan to reaquaint myself every weekend before the snows hit. Camping solo with a dog is the way to go in my book!

1:29 p.m. on August 26, 2009 (EDT)
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I liked your story. Those are the kind of words I like to read in an true adventure novel. I think you might have a career in writting books I would be first in line to read.
Its good that after so many years you finally came back to the woods. They are a beautiful deeply spiritual place that make me sleep at night like a mother lullaby.
It is noce to be in true wildernes where you fear nature and dont know for certain you will make it home alive.
When I was in wild Alaska a couple summers ago, I bicycled across the entire state and had many wild encounter with animals. One that stays in my mind was along the Copper River area where a huge brown bear walked past my camp just before sunset and scared me so much I built a huge bonfire in hopes to keep him away. As I watched him walk within 50 yards of my camp and swim across the Copper like his own swimmin' hole, he made me realize I was now the invader of his wilderness home.I never saw him again that night but it made me really apprecate wilderness more and since.
Good luck on your new adventures!

6:17 p.m. on August 27, 2009 (EDT)
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Welcome trebek,

Nice story, thanks.

I have been visiting the wilderness in one way or the other since I was old enough to go. It has enriched my life beyond measure, and given me a deep appreciation for the things that, many times, go unnoticed by a lot of people.

I often go on solo treks with my dog, mostly in winter. I have learned a lot by watching my dog operate in the wilderness, and that too, has enriched my life.

9:06 p.m. on August 27, 2009 (EDT)
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Thanks Gary, thats a hell of a complient coming from someone who camps as much as you. Your point about being in "their" homes is well taken. I've driven around Alaska with friends, camping twice and I understand how you must have felt with Mister Grizz, wandering by the campsite. We had one do a walk through at 3 in the morning, which caused us all to stay in lodges the rest of the trip. Heck, even up in the Tetons, camping has got to be almost as wild of an experience.

I must admit I have much admiration for the free life that you lead. After having taught school and raising three kids for the past 14 years (solo): Fulltime camping might just be the cards for me as well. I'm sure my blood pressure would appreciate the change of lifestyle... so would my overall sanity!

We're planning to go on a 2 nighter this weekend, where the dog "Freddy" and I want to do a bit of hiking, as well as reading, writing, and guitar playing. We hope to do it again every weekend until the snow gets too deep.

Troutman, where do you do your winter camping? Is it socked in snow like the mountains around here are during the winter? I might just have to give that a shot as well.

11:12 p.m. on August 27, 2009 (EDT)
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Maybe you could get a video camera and be the new Man vs Wild guy, recording your trips and making a website to show the world what its really like to be in the wilds with Mountain Lions peering over your shoulder?

Yes, I feel sorta lucky that I have been able lead the adventurers life, foot loose and care free!

Isn't Utah one of the best wild places we have in these states of ours. May the wind always be at your back and the Mountain Lion at your side.

12:59 a.m. on August 28, 2009 (EDT)
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Thanks Bro, except I have never seen a mountain lion up here. I just here all the stories, and after last weekend, I don't plan to give them another thought. My singing and breath should be enough to keep them away from me.

1:56 a.m. on August 28, 2009 (EDT)
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Yeah, and I used to put my smelly hiking boots outside my tent thinking they would keep the wild ones away, till one of them stole one of my boots in the middle of the night.

Its awfully hard to hike out of a wilderness area missing a boot! :(

And on my bike trip across Alaska, something stole my spare tire. Someone I told later said it may have been a Porcupine as they like chewing on rubber? :(


10:08 p.m. on August 28, 2009 (EDT)
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HaHa...reminds me of the time a newbie that was with me built a fire to dry out his boots, he didn't attend to the matter well enough and when the fire 'took hold' it burned the toes of his boots off. We fashioned a new toe out of material from a shirt and duct tape the best we could. Ohhh the jokes!

trebek, most all of my camping is done in the more remote areas of the Southern Appalachians....TN / NC. So we have to get lucky to get much snow, however at the higher elevations we can have blisteringly cold winds and a lot of freezing rain / sleet. Ice overs are quite common and catch hikers off guard.

Worst it gets usually is down to zero with wind chills, but our area receives 80 - 85 inches of precipitation a year, second only to the North West. So the combination of constant moisture, high winds, and winter temps can be challenging, but certainly do-able. Lots of times it is in the twenties and that's not bad. If you stay in the lower elevations it's usually above freezing. What fun is that?

A lot of my friends won't go in winter, but my furry dog loves to go, and so do I.

What are winter conditions for you?

12:36 a.m. on September 2, 2009 (EDT)
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Ski conditions, lots of dry powder between 36" and up" depending on your elevation, and the month. Temps between -20 and highs of 25F during the day. Snowshoeing and Cross-country skiing are are big around here. Many people build snow caves, but I'm too old and lazy to try that. Probably just snowshoe a couple miles and just pitch a tent on the leeward side of a big tree, which makes A natural snow break. Just do a little shoveling from there and a nice warm tent site can be made. We have a good area to go winter camping close to here, but I need to invest in a little more gear than I currently have.

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