Good evening and welcome back to my fire! Tonight, we are going to chat about a really cool question asked by a new and awesome pal, Tina Clifford, whom I met at the beginning of the International Horseback Adventure ~ in a gas station parking lot of all places! (A really sweet story too!!)
Tina is also Valkyrie’s Hammer with the Boom Town Roller Derby Team based out of Wasilla, Alaska. (Now seriously, is THAT cool or what?!)
The question that Tina asked was “Being where you are and doing what you do, what has been your most profound and humbling moment in the wilderness?”
So, let’s chat!
Answering this question certainly wasn’t easy, there are so many profound and humbling moments, some in the extreme, that I could have shared. The two I did share, to answer Tina’s question with complete honesty, were the two that first came to mind.
Profound, as an adjective, is (of a state, quality or emotion) very great or intense. Some synonyms are: heartfelt, extreme, acute, sincere, deep, overpowering or overwhelming.
One of the most profound moments I have ever had was the day I found my “Ram-rock”. Looking at it, sitting in my hand, I knew as I had never known anything before that I was to be a Sheep Guide. I would be climbing the mountains (one of my deepest fears- not being able to climb) and guiding clients to the prized and magnificent Dall Sheep.
That moment, all of my reservations, all of my fears, all of my excuses seemed petty and childish. I had already proven to myself and my peers that I was a successful Big Game Hunting Guide. I was walking and riding again, as the most respected doctors had agreed would be impossible because of the pain for me. I had been given a gift, the gift of life and mobility; who was I to turn my back on it?
In August 1999 I guided my first Dall Sheep Hunter. Up mountains, across glaciers, walking the ridge of the sheer face of a three thousand foot cliff and shook our client’s hand as the tears ran down his face, after he harvested his first white ram.
Humbling, as a verb, is to curtail or destroy the pride of; to humiliate; to cause to be meek or modest in spirit; to give a lower station or condition to.
Ha! There are very few things in the world that will bring submission to bare quicker than a surprised, standing up on two legs Grizzly Bear.
Standing face to face, no more than five yards away, from a Grizzly Bear, who when standing towered over my small height, unarmed and much too close. Yes, instantly, I was humbled.
There was no plan, only two people, whose safety was my own responsibility. I did not think about what my next move was, I simply acted. Stepping forward, towards the standing Grizzly, I raised my arms out to my sides and yelled at him, “Hey!” to bring his full attention away from the Trainee and client with me and direct it fully on me. Now, standing even closer to his enormous and powerful presence, I accepted that this was all I could do for the two with me and I also knew, with no doubt that my Trainee would do everything to see our client safely back to camp.
Well, as you can obviously tell, I wasn’t a mid-day snack after all and the bear who was obviously as surprised at our appearance as we were his own, wheeled around and took off like only a Grizzly Bear can in a burst of speed. As we watched, us three, the bear left our vicinity and was soon out of sight.
THAT is when all the blood left my head and I suddenly found myself sitting on the wet ground, shaking.
Making a living and a life in the wilderness, humbling moments can become familiar if one allows arrogance to settle into habits. Nature, and all her critters, have a way to remind us that she alone, rules this world.
Remember!! Reminder! Please, leave YOUR question in the comments (Or anywhere you can reach us ~ Face Book, Twitter, Linked In, Google+ or by email!) to answer in one of our future chats by the fire.
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