Wilderman, Bob Marshall … Tribute

Guys have gone before us, have been in the wilderness due to their calling, mountain creeks running through their veins mixed with their blood that drove them into the unknown.  I want to learn about them, learn from them, with hopes I will be able to teach others along my way, along my “wilderman’s journey”.

Alaska Wilderness: Exploring the Central Brooks Range

Mr. Marshall came around in 1901.  WOW!  ‘Turn of the century.  Not the one we are in now; but the century before this one.  A redemptive haunting came to Bob Marshall from Alaska.  File:Bob Marshall camping.jpg  It would make sense that his book came about from his years of immersion there, an unprecedented wild place.  As you can see, he kept everything he needed  in a small backpack.  I hope that you know I am kidding.  And here is a FYI: I have a volume entitled  Points Unknown: A Century of Great Exploration , a collection of stories published by OUTSIDE BOOKS,  includes  some of Marshall’s book, Alaska Wilderness: Exploring the Central Brooks Range.

Bob Marshall was a forester, a writer.  He climbed.  Mr. Marshall had a robust appreciation for the Brooks Range, Alaska … and a similar appetite for the Adirondacks.  There are 46 peaks in the Adirondacks realm, and Marshall climbed all of them.  Actually, he was one of the first to accomplish that feat, with his feet (I thought that might be a decent joke, but I now have my doubts).  Another book he wrote was Arctic  Village, a 1933 bestseller, which was before my time.  Two years later, Marshall became one of the principal founders of The Wilderness Society.  And that is about all I have to say now, in my effort to practice some brevity.

Here a  small excerpt from his book, found in the collection of stories I referred to above:

 

“At three in the morning I awoke from the noise of rushing water.  It was raining hard when I looked outside and, much to my surprise, I discovered that the water in the quiet slough next to camp had risen almost to the fire, and had become a strong churning current.  I moved the cooking pots back to what I though was a safe place, commented casually to Al on the phenomenal rise of the water, and hurried back to bed.  Moved by my report, Al took one sleepy look out of the tent and immediately was all consternation.  ‘Hurry up!’ he shouted, ‘we’ve got to get out of here quick.  The main river’s cutting back of our island and if we’re not damn fast we’ll be cut off from everything.”

And that is more than I meant to bring to this blog-table.  Hope you enjoyed this encounter with Mr. Robert (Bob) Marshall, an individual I would respectfully consider a wilderman.

The Duke: Up Ahead On the Trail

“Talk low, talk slow and don’t say much.” 

John Wayne

https://i1.wp.com/www.talktherapybiz.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/john-wayne-true-grit.jpg
John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn, “True Grit

An image emerges: John Wayne and a young buck ride on their horses into “an unknown”.  John Wayne, also known as “The Duke”, keeps his eyes on the trail looking for what is ahead, while speaking to the younger one, who … in The Duke’s thinking, he is responsible for.  John Wayne, the mentor, wants to prepare the mentee for what is ahead … both in the immediate scenario and the long term journey.

Now, another image comes to mind of a dad, or a mentor, or both, walking with a younger one … a son, a mentee, a student … both attentive to each other: one teaching / modeling, and the other paying attention to what the younger knows is important, what will be remembered for the trails ahead.

I am immeasurably thankful for good men (the kind that are rare, who will always be remembered) who passed on some wisdom … not because they had to, but because they believed that this what needed to happen, and because I clearly needed to receive what they had to offer, for my own benefit.  And, in the name of tension, I remember … as well … the times where I struggled along the way, encountering the unknown, seemingly alone with no one there at the time to teach me, to guide me.

“Tomorrow hopes we have learned

something from yesterday.”

John Wayne 

My “young buck” status no longer applies, and I continue to grapple with what I call “ambivalence”.  My own definition of ambivalence goes something like this:

“Ambivalence: the existence of two mutually exclusive emotions, thoughts, or concepts.”

I’ve made mistakes.  And “the right thing to do” means: learning from those mistakes; choosing to live not in the past, but in the present with one eye on the future; and releasing any self contempt or bitterness about what has happened behind me.  I want to take care of my horse.  I want to listen well.  I want to “Talk low, talk slow and don’t say much …”, in the words of The Duke.

Haunts from Antarctic Wilder Man

CLOSURE.  I need some closure!

For years I have carried a distinct heaviness from a British Antarctic explorer by the name of Robert Falcon Scott.  He led an expedition to the South Pole.  They spent the winter of 1911 on Cape Evans, part of Ross Island, in a structure they built known as “Scott’s Hut”.  From here, Captain Scott selected four men to continue on for the South Pole.  Scott intended to get there before anyone else.  There was a Norwegian, Roald Amundsen, taking an Antarctic expedition for the South Pole at the same time.  Thus, a race.  Robert Scott reached the South Pole (01/17/1912) and was unfathomably despaired to see a tent, left by Roald Amundsen.  Inside the tent a note addressed to Scott explained that Amundsen’s team had arrived on December 14th, five weeks before Scott’s five-man team reached the Pole.  Amundsen and his team made it back to Norway.  Scott and his five man team died on the Ice.

So, where do I come in?  I worked in an Antarctica field camp (there are quite a few of us Antarcticans) for five months, a breakfast cook.  One evening, I was told to grab my ECW gear (Extreme Cold Weather) and climb into a Hagglund (below, http://www.milmac.se/index.php?page=hagglunds-bv206-personell-carrier&hl=usa).

Hagglunds BV206 Personell CarrierWe were going to Scott’s Hut.  The place is remarkably preserved, due to cold temperatures / low humidity.  I stood by the long dining table, next to the chair where Scott sat at the head of the table.  I feel like I know this guy; impossible … as he died before I was born.  His story is haunting; his pictures are haunting.  Maybe its time for me to quit thinking about Scott and Amundsen.  Maybe not.  His mission was a tragedy, not very positive.  Here’s the rub: Scott’s story is a prolific example of courage / desire to take on dangerous adventures. Things get crazy, sometimes, in a harsh environment.  Scott’s diaries show that he went after this dream.

I think of Antarctica as a cold, merciless, jealous, mistress that refuses to let some men leave; such as the five men on Scott’s polar team, pictured below: (http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/18/jan-18-1912-robert-falcon-scott-discovers-tent-of-explorer-who-beat-him-to-south-pole/?_r=0)

http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/18/jan-18-1912-robert-falcon-scott-discovers-tent-of-explorer-who-beat-him-to-south-pole/?_r=0
Henry Bowers pulled the string for the camera. Robert F. Scott’s expedition team at the South Pole, Jan. 17, 1912. Left to right: Lawrence Oates, Henry Bowers, Scott, Edward Wilson, Edgar Evans.
scott-hut_dinner_spri
http://www.amusingplanet.com/2011/05/captain-robert-scotts-hut-in-antarctica.html

 Here is an image of his last diary entry.  The lines read:

“We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker, of course, and the end cannot be far. It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write more.

R. Scott

Last entry

For God’s sake look after our people.”

Winning Battles, Men

Don’t worry.  You are tougher than hell.  There is a substance within you that makes the demons tremble.  True, they mess with you.  They mess with me, too.  That is one reason conflict happens.  If the battle gets bloody, that’s okay.  You will listen to your heart, and the wisdom that belongs to you.  You may find yourself in a battlefield, no one in sight.  The ground’s ripped up, ugliness in the trenches.  You will wonder, “Where are the other guys?”  You may not see them.

(Image below: ecogentleman.com)

ecogentleman.com

They are out there, somewhere.  Regardless of where they are, you know where YOU are.  And you are a warrior.  What else are you going to do?  You press on!  You own up to your pain, you’re wounds, your fatigue.  You consider that you are afraid.  You feel it in your stomach, and your mind is racing.  And you consider your courage.  Its there, in your heart and soul.  If you come across some enemies, you might be out-numbered.  But, you are still you: a force to be reckoned with.  Better men than you and I have died in battle.  It is not a dishonorable thing to die with courage and nobility and honor, knowing that you went down fighting.  A smaller warrior said to his larger adversary, “You very well may get the best of me.  But by the time it is over, you will know that you have been hit.”  Beware of the wrath of a patient man, when his anger manifests in an honorable way.  You will see strength, then.  And you might want to stand back.  

Zeb’s Background

Zebulon.  Zebulon Pike, that is.  Also known as “Zeb” by his colleagues, his fellow officers.  What a name.  Zebulon Pike.

Zebulon PikeZeb Pike.  Pike was born in 1779, January 5th.   The American Revolutionary War had been going on for about four years; and there were four more years to go.  So there he was, right in the middle of the madness.  Maybe all that war made an impression on  Zeb: the passion and courage of men and women fighting as patriots, the underdogs, wielding sharpened swords and armed with vision.

revolutionary-war-battleFifteen years later, Zeb-Man joined the Army.  Fifteen years old!  The boy didn’t even have his driver’s license yet.  And five years after that, Zeb (20)  was ordered to get a group of guys together, and head out west for an exploration expedition.  Somehow he knew that there was a mountain out here (the West) that he was supposed to go to, and explore.  Zeb and his guys found the mountain, known as “Pike’s Peak”.  I suppose that you could say … if you wanted to say it … that Pike had a peak to seek.  Zeb’s next adventure was the War of 1812.  Unfortunately, this was his last adventure.  All of the information available states that Zeb Pike died in battle.

Fortunately, we have the lore of storytelling in our midst.  Some folks want to do what they can to keep legends alive.  I cannot really blame them, for their longings are honorable.  There motives are noble.  With Zeb, for example, there is a rumor … only a rumor … that Zeb did not die in the War of 1812.  Wounded?  Yes.  But, according to the rumor, Zeb did not die in the War of 1812.  In fact, the story goes that this was where Zeb Pike was last seen, and he would not surface until about 2009.  Zeb Pike is living … based on the rumor … somewhere in the Pike National Forest (also named for Pike).  He lives in a cabin at about 10,500 feet somewhere between Bailey, CO. and Shawnee, CO.  And, Zeb is still a wildman.  Zeb, according to the rumor, likes to chase mountain lions and wrestle with the black bears.  I am not suggesting that there is anything reliable to this … rumor.  But, it is something to think about, isn’t it?  Zebulon Pike?  Still living?  WOW.

Man Feels Weak: Let Him Speak …

Man, do you feel weak?  Speak.  You won’t be redirected, no solutions expected.
Wisdom released,
Men seeking peace,
“Find your voice!”
Yet, be cautious with your choice.”
‘Makes sense, “Negativity … nonsense.”
Positive: the way to go,  let your success show …
Show the world, show your friends … you are the one that shines and wins.
“So, please dear brother, keep your melancholy;
We are the winners, the strong and the jolly.”

Davis, T

FYI:  Usually I don’t mind poems that rhyme, as long as it’s not my poem.  But some things happen, beyond my control.

One definition of ambivalence, because it makes the word logical and digestible:

“Ambivalence . . . the existence of two mutually exclusive (any combination of) ideas, emotions, thoughts, realities.”

STEELY DAN lyrics, from the piece entitled “Deacon Blues”, come to mind:

“They got a name for the winners in the world
I want a name when I lose
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide
Call me Deacon Blues”

I am a firm believer in adages like:

  • “Don’t let people pull you down …”;
  • “Think negative things?  You will experience negative things …”
  • “You are responsible for your thoughts, your emotions, your actions …”

‘Got the picture?

Someone comes into your space, with heaviness, pain, anger, sadness.  It is your responsibility to set up and maintain your boundaries.  Reality: you may experience some tension:

  1. Compassion;
  2. Desire to empower;
  3. A murky mix of wanting to help, and unhealthy guilt for this person’s pain / obligation to “rescue”;
  4. Someone once said (I don’t know who) “It is what it is.”  It is of profound importance to find the “what” that “it” … “is”.

More about the tension that you may, or may not, feel.  St. John of the Cross wrote a piece

St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church.

(sixteenth century) entitled “Dark Night of the Soul“.  A great writer (passed away in 1997) named Dr. Gerald May

The Dark Night of the Soul

wrote a book based on the work by St. John of the Cross, Dark Night of the SoulTerrence Real wrote a book entitled I Don’t Want to Talk About It (one of the best books on male depression I have ever read).

Cover of "I Don't Want to Talk About It: ...