“The more you know, the less you carry” -Mors Kochanski.
These words really resonate for me in today’s gear crazy outdoor world. It was this gear heavy, low knowledge approach that got me into big trouble in my early 20’s. Lost and stranded, with gear but no real skills, I made a promise to myself to learn all I could about this beautiful place in which I’d found myself feeling so helpless. Luckily I made it out, but we will have to cover the rest of that story another time. Determined to fill the void, I chased down books on camping, plants, and survival skills. At every opportunity I practiced what I’d been reading.
Unfortunately, there was a lot of frustration to be found in attempting to master such a vast subject in this way. After years of trial and error I was gifted with an unforgettable experience; I was enrolled in a 7 day winter survival course with Mors Kochanski, a legendary wilderness living and survival instructor. Teaching alongside Mors was master instructor Kelly Harlton. During that week these two excellent and distinguished teachers basically wiped out and re-wrote everything I thought I knew. The “veil of green”, as Kelly would say, had been lifted and I now saw the forest for what it was: my hardware store, grocery store and medicine cabinet. Over the last 7 years I’ve taken part in many courses with these great men, beginning as a student and eventually being privileged enough to teach along side them, still learning all I can, and doing my best to pass that knowledge on to others.
It seems that whether I’m driving in a winter storm, enjoying a night sleeping under the stars, or heading out on a multi-week expedition, there is a real sense of calm that comes with this knowledge learned and endlessly practiced. It has created an environment within me, leaving me feeling confidant in natures presence but never underestimating her power. When I was young I spent all my time building forts and hunting gophers, and I’m happy to say I’m still at it and I do my best to provide that same opportunity; the freedom to run and explore the forest and discover what nature has to offer.