I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve written – in the last couple weeks I’ve done hikes to Comet Falls and Snow Lake on my days off (the former with a friend, the latter was an epic backpacking trip with my friend, mother, and brother). 🙂 Last week I also went home for a job interview (Lord willing, I’ll have a job for when I finish here and head home!).

Anyhow, main topic: on the ride home (I hitched a ride on a tour bus, as us Rainier employees are allowed to do for free) I read “My Side of the Mountain” by Jean Craighead George, the 177-page, Newbery Honor book. For some reason I had acquired a desire to read that book while on Mount Rainier.

If you’re not familiar with the story, it’s about a 13 year old boy named Sam who lives in the Catskill Mountains of New York for 2 years (fiction), taking “only a penknife, a ball of cord, forty dollars, and some flint and steel”.

He burns out a shelter in a large tree, traps and fishes, makes his own deerskin clothes, and trains a falcon named Frightful to hunt for him.

Sam & Frightful

What 13 year old kid do you know that could do THAT? 🙂

As I was reading this book, I kept setting it down and staring out the window with a growing excitement. I want to do that! I want to catch fish and live in a tree and have a jolly good time doing it.

So one of my new dreams is to find a place in the woods that’s at least a mile walk away from any civilization, next to a stream or lake full of fish, and to live out there for at least 2 weeks. With friends. Sam might have been able to make it with just his falcon, Frightful, and the blue moon visitors, but I want to share this adventure with my mountain friends. I want to build a shelter and have a fire every night and catch fish and cook it… Oh I get excited again just thinking about it!

My pampered, spoiled self gets in the way when I start planning for this trip, however. When I think about what I should take and what I shouldn’t, the list of what I “need” could quickly reach to the floor if I let it. As a middle-class American, my idea of what I need is blown so out of proportion and ingrained in my very self, I don’t even know how to get down to the basics…

Common sense also worms its way in. When I think about how I don’t want to pack in any food (or very little), and just live on what I can glean and catch, my practical mind pipes in with “What if you don’t catch any fish?” “I doubt you could trap any animals…” and of course, images of eating the wrong plants and having to be carried out on a stretcher, green and sick.

Maybe that last image is a little drastic (I really should be a mom, I have such an overactive imagination of what could go wrong), but my American mind and “what if… and I die?” do hold me back a little. But my exuberance after reading this book will not be denied. I am determined at learn some wilderness survival and have at it… with company. 🙂

Let me know if you know of any land that would work!



P.S. The story ended rather sadly, as Sam was living happily on his own – but reporters showed up first, then his family. The latter built a home on his meadow and woods, disturbing his solitary wilderness. Rather a sad ending, I think, although I guess Jean Craighead George couldn’t have left the young boy out on his own. There would have been letters of complaint. If you haven’t read the book – or if the only time you’ve read it was when it was assigned in junior high – pick it up. 🙂 It’s a quick, inspiring read. Any suggestions for other wilderness survival novels?