Jess Teats wrote the best 2012 Essay at Troy High School.

Jess won a $250 scholarship for his entry into the FSPW 2012 High School Essay Competition by telling us about his “Most Memorable Wilderness Experience.” Read his essay in its entirety below.

A Most Memorable Wilderness Experience

I hold an immense appreciation for the outdoors and have had many memorable experiences in the wilderness. I have hiked in the Cabinet Mountains, berry picked on the mountains behind Bull Lake, and hunted in the forests near by. I have grown up outdoors and because of this I have collected a multitude of fond memories of my years outside. However, none have had a greater effect on me or have left such a long lasting impression as the simple trail walk at the Ross Creek Cedars.

Jess Teats and Lincoln County Coordinator Molly Kieran
Jess Teats and Lincoln County Coordinator Molly Kieran

When I first looked at the cedars I was in awe; the immensity of the old growth red cedars was nothing short of astounding. As I strolled through the course of the trail it seemed like I was walking backward in time to a different age. All around me were giant trees. Beneath the enormous trees was Devils Club with its big beautiful star shaped leaves and its razor sharp spines which made me feel like I was walking in some primal unforgiving jungle. The cedars stood ‘high above me their canopy smothering out most off the light that touched my face; I felt so small, so insignificant. The trees seemed almost ominous.

I touched the trunk of one of the ancient cedars and at that brief moment, I can’t explain why, but for some reason I was expecting this flow of wisdom or forgotten knowledge to come flooding into my mind filling me with memories that have long since been forgotten. Though this is not the most ‘wild’ place I have been, it filled me with such a deep tranquil peace that it was as if there was something spiritual there. The air was sweet with the smell of cedar branches and the aroma of wild ginger. I stopped just to take everything in. The silence was only disturbed by the faint gurgle of the creek nearby.

In my mind I tried to imagine what this area looked like in the past. I looked at the cedars; some showed signs of bum and some were fallen. I tried to gain some understanding of their history by continuing to explore the trail. The large ferns added to the forests exotic appearance. Flowers were scattered from place to place on the forest floor offering a hint of color to the green and brown background. There were a variety of natural features on the trail that enriched the experience for me;. I sat between three enormous cedars and stood in a hollowed out tree trunk. I took many pictures; but none of them were able to fully express the grandeur and magnificence of the cedars at Ross Creek. To me, the Ross Creek Cedars are special, unique, and possibly sacred. They gifted me with a most treasured memory of the wilderness and instilled in me a drive to advocate for the protection and preservation of all remarkable wilderness areas like that of the Ross Creek Cedars.

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Categories: Blog
About The Author:

Sandy Compton has been program coordinator for Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness since 2009. He is also a storyteller and author of both fiction and non-fiction books, and the publisher at

In addition to his other duties, he runs the FSPW All Star Trail Team (, which works on Forest Service trails in the Scotchman Peaks. He is a trail surveyor as well, and a C-Certified Crosscut Bucker/Feller and USFS National Saw Policy OHLEC instructor.

Sandy grew up on a small farm/woodlot at the south end of the proposed wilderness and lives there still. He is also board member of the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance and a planning team member for the Northern Rockies Wilderness Skills Institute.

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